October 30, 2015 Last Updated 11:17 am

New Apple TV gets raves for the hardware, while some developers complain about app store design

Pre-orders begin arriving to buyers, Best Buy stores will offer new model starting today, and developers can update software to start accessing the app store

The Apple TV app store went live yesterday and for those who have pre-ordered the new device, or received on as part of the developer program, there was a bit more excitement than one might have expected. After all, Apple releases new models of its hardware all the time.

But it has been a long time since the Apple TV was updated, and this update is absolutely the most important in the device’s history for along with new and better hardware comes the launch of the Apple TV app store.


For a lot of young people, the excitement revolves around the fact that the Apple TV will now be a gaming device, and the just launched app store quickly filled with new game apps. Pangea Software, for instance, announced yesterday that all its new Apple TV app games will support 3D.

“We have been waiting for this for many years,” Brian Greenstone, President of Pangea Software, said in a press release. “When Apple announced that the Apple TV 4 would support 3rd-party apps we jumped right on it. This is a watershed moment for the video game industry because I think it represents Apple’s first step into conquering the console market. It may not look like it now, but given time the Apple TV will almost certainly cause major disruptions in the console gaming market. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo should be very worried.”

Consumers who buy a new Apple TV, especially those who upgrade their old model, will be impressed. The unit is lightning fast compared to previous models, connectivity is far better, and the remote now includes a touchpad that makes all the difference.

AppleTV-games-610As usual, game developers are way ahead of others when it comes to developing and launching apps for the new app store. Apple made sure that its current line-up of content providers – HBO, Netflix and others – had early access to tvOS so that they would be ready at launch, but publishers are lagging behind (which is not a criticism, I think they should properly think through any new TV app launch).

But many of those game developers are not terribly happy right now, not after seeing what the Apple TV app store looks like. In short, it is just like the iOS app store, the place where apps disappear and are hard to find.

Currently, there are no categories for apps. The home page of the new Apple TV app store features apps selected by Apple for promotion, but there is no way to browse to find apps. If a developer has launched a new app, and Apple does not feature in on the app store’s home page, the only to find the app will be if the Apple TV owner knows the exact name of the app they want, then they can use the search mechanism (and Siri currently cannot search the app store).

“I worked my ass off for the last 2 months getting 5 games ready for launch day, and now I see that there’s absolutely no way to discover the apps unless a user explicitly searches for it. This is such a slap in the face to all of the developers who have been working so hard,” one developer wrote.

The developer has launched five games, each featuring 3D TV support, “so I’m shocked that Apple didn’t feature a single one of them.”

(Developers who received test units will need to restore their units using the latest version of tvOS posted to the developer site late yesterday. Once installed, the app store will be visible.)

Not being featured wouldn’t be such a disappointment were the Apple app stores easily navigated. But as publishers have known for two years, once Apple decides to let a portion of its app store go unmaintained there appears no way to get the massive company to respond to cries for help. The Newsstand has been broken since 2013, and now the Apple TV app store has launched without categories. This hurts.

What it means, of course, is that the success of any app is solely the responsibility of the company or individual behind the app. For publishers, this means that if they are contemplating launching something for the Apple TV they better have included a sufficient marketing budget into their cost projections.

For me, it means it only makes sense to launch an Apple TV channel/app if one also has financial backing for the venture. (Anybody want to talk ideas?)

Apple has fallen behind its competitors, losing market share in the TV streaming market. But the new hardware, combined with its new app store, should reverse this. There appears to be a lot of enthusiasm among young buyers if forums on the web are any indication.

The power of the brand name, combined with its retail might will certainly help. Best Buy said it that its stores will carry the new device starting today (previously they had said it would be available late next week).

While Apple’s app store team has been busy reviewing and releasing new apps for the Apple TV – it must have been crazy there the past few days – only a few iOS app updates have made it through the system.

TestFlight-icon-175One important one for developers was released last night. TestFlight, the app used to beta test apps, has had its iOS app updated.

Version 1.3.1 includes a fix for an accessibility issue, as well as stability and performance improvements.

Adobe has issued an update for its new iOS app Adobe Photoshop Fix, launched just this month.

What’s New in Version 1.1
Support iOS 9 split view multitasking.

For iPad Pro we will support editing larger images.

Provide basic pencil support.


And maybe the most important iOS app update of all is from Starbucks. Their update now allows users to adjust the amount of whipped cream on their drinks when ordering via their mobile device. We now can sleep better at night.

Also Apple related: the company yesterday filed their appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court ruling that found that the company conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices. If the court upholds the ruling, Apple would be forced into distributing $400 million in consumer rebates.

The government has 30 to respond, then the court will decide if it wants to take up the case or let the lower court finding stand.

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