writing about tech

Tag: tv

Early impressions of the new Apple TV

7/10, with the potential to be a 9/10 once Apple actually finishes it. There are some glaring omissions:

  • The iPhone/Watch remote app not working.
  • The way Photos works. Why can’t I share use my Favorites as a screensaver?! It seems like the most obvious thing.
  • The fact the Universal Search API isn’t ready for third-parties.
  • Random bugs. I somehow reached a point where none of the buttons on the remote other than Siri would do anything, so I had to unplug it and plug it back in. ¯\(ツ)

It’ll still be my default way of watching stuff, though, because the core functionality is pretty great. Not having to dig around Hulu’s shitty UI to find the next episode of something is glorious, as is using voice to jump around a YouTube video. “What did he say?” even works on YouTube, though I don’t think it turns on subtitles yet.

Biggest surprise: holy shit, Alto’s Adventure on the Apple TV is actually really fun. The graphics and sound are pretty great on a home media setup, and there’s something relaxing/meditative about that game in particular – likely a combination of the game’s fantastic art direction and the simplicity of the controls.

Most of the games I downloaded to play around with I’ve already deleted, but this one is definitely sticking around, and as a result I’m slightly more bullish on the Apple TV as a gaming thing than I was a day ago. I don’t see it as a hardcore gamer’s paradise, but for “sit back and relax” stuff with simple controls? This thing has definite potential.

I could see it being especially great with stuff like Telltale’s games. Heck, it’s not hard to imagine a future where you’re watching Game of Thrones and a recommendation engine suggests you download the games – it could be great for discovery if Apple allows third-parties to glue pieces like that together.

Current recommendation: if you want a new streaming box, and live in Apple’s ecosystem already, get the $150 model – but maybe wait a few weeks/months unless you’ve had it with your current setup.

Breaking news: Hulu takes shitty interface, makes it shittier

The Verge reports:

Today the company announced Watchlist, a new section that combines three existing Hulu items (Queue, Favorites, and Shows You Watch) into a single feature.

My first thought: great! Hulu is finally fixing their shitty interface. My most common complaint is that it’s difficult to order episodes by expiration date – you can only do it on the computer, and it’s incredibly slow to sort.  Unfortunately, if I haven’t watched TV in a couple of weeks, my viewing priority will be determined by what expires next, and Hulu  makes that unnecessarily difficult.

So, how do I sort by expiration date in the new system?  Let me dig into the FAQ and…

It’s important to note that your Watchlist cannot be manually ordered. We’re working on perfecting this feature so that you never need to re-order your list. If the order of your shows doesn’t seem right, we want to hear from you.

Oh for fuck’s sake, Hulu. It’s fine for you to pretend to understand my viewing habits, but at least give me the option to override your choices if those choices happen to be terrible.

The only way this works for me is if Hulu prioritizes episode that are soon-to-expire, but they don’t seem to have that in their list of considerations:

The ordering of your Watchlist is personalized to how you watch your shows and movies. For example:

Shows with newly-aired episodes or that you’re bingeing on will be toward the front
Shows you don’t watch as often tend to be further back
A show that you’ve saved for later, but aren’t actively watching will be toward the back of your list
However, once you start watching the show, it will move toward the front or your Watchlist
Shows you’ve completed will be at the end of your Watchlist
After you’ve finished watching an individual video, it will drop out of your Watchlist

What about ordering it by whether or not I have to watch it this week or not at all, because it’s gone forever? Wouldn’t that be a useful factor?

I get that the future is all about “personal assistants” that tell you what you want before you want it, but until we get that right, we need a fucking override switch.

God dammit, Hulu.

Community renewed for sixth season on…Yahoo?! Also, apparently Yahoo has a streaming video service

The Verge writes:

Community is getting its sixth season. This fall, it’ll head to Yahoo Screen for a 13-episode run, saving the show after it was canceled by NBC in May. “I am very pleased that Community will be returning for its predestined sixth season on Yahoo,” series creator Dan Harmon says in a statement. “I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online.” It appears as though the show will retain its half-hour format, and stars Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Jim Rash will all return.

I’m not sure what’s more unbelievable; that this is happening, or that Yahoo has a streaming video service that I’ve never heard of.

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