The new TV is here…
One of the best things about being part of the Learning Technologies department at HCT is that we as a team get to try some of the latest gadgets, software and hardware out there in the market. Our focus remains how well we can help our teachers integrate the best learning technologies in the curriculum, classrooms and beyond. We believe in trying out the product extensively before it is recommended to our teachers. In fact, we are always trying to explore various ways a new piece of hardware/software can be used in making teaching and learning a rewarding experience for both our teachers and students.
That’s the story about pretty much all Ed Tech products. Whether it’s from Apple, Microsoft, Google or even a startup, we believe in trying it out as much as possible before we begin using it in the context of teaching and learning. It helps get our minds thinking about all the potential issues before the technology is deployed across the system.
Since early 2012, we have seen the remarkably successful initiative of iPads in classrooms. One of the key outcomes of this initiative was ensuring an Apple TV in most classrooms/conference & boardrooms at HCT to make presentations and classroom engagement more dynamic and fluid.
Now with the next generation of Apple TV released (30 Oct 2015), there are a lot of questions that are going to be asked – none more so than ‘whether or not we should move to replacing the current devices – the 2nd/3rd generation ones with the new models. To help make the decision process a lot easier, we have put together some important information about the new Apple TV models.
Apple is marketing the device with a very bold tagline ‘The future of TV is here”. We’ll let the TV pundits judge how bold a statement that is but from an educational perspective – what does it offer? Is it still the same in terms of the experience it provides? What is the value proposition of this upgrade? What’s in it for me (i.e. teachers and students)? Hopefully the snippets of information curated below would help you make up your mind about whether or not the new generation Apple TV is for you.
1. The Setup
This has usually been a painful experience (ask the IT folks!) which required entering Wi-Fi passwords and iCloud credentials among other things. Setting up the new Apple TV though is a breeze. Particularly if you have an iPhone with iOS 9.1 installed and Bluetooth on near the device. The new Apple TV grabs everything it needs to get online based on the iPhone setting and before you know it, the device is configured to get you started.
(Here’s a caveat: There is no way to restore from an old Apple TV if you’re upgrading, which means you have to reinstall every app you want it to use)
2. The new Siri remote
There is a big difference between the old Apple TV remote and the new one. It’s been completely redesigned from ground-up. And it uses Siri! Apple has released Siri functionality to 8 countries so far with plans to ‘bless’ other nations with Siri in the near future (unfortunately UAE is not one of the 8 countries). The remote shipped with the new Apple TV in the UAE is identical in functionality and looks. The only difference is that it does not support Siri – well not yet anyway. So for now you are going to have to search for content by entering text (as opposed to getting ‘Siri’ to do the job for you by giving it voice commands). Siri however (when released in UAE) will be doing a lot more (and has limitations as well) as reviewed by Walt Mossberg for The Verge
The smooth touchpad on one side of the remote can be used to navigate in all sorts of ways. For example, swiping across a movie timeline to select the preferred choice is surprisingly accurate and easy. It gives you the feeling of ‘gestures’ that you are all too familiar with when you use the Macbook Pro trackpad or the iPhone touch screen.
3. The new Apple TV has its own Apps
Apple has introduced a new App Store for Apple TV similar to that of it’s iPhone/Mac OS X and Watch OS offerings. This is where transforming the education experience comes in with some serious potential. Presenting an idea via a ‘native’ app or getting students involved in an ‘immersive’ learning experience right off the device (using the new Siri remote which has a built in accelerometer and gyroscope) can change the way interaction takes place between content and learners in a classroom. Developers are already pushing out some apps for the Apple TV and I suspect we are going to see some great educational apps coming in the immediate future. It is early days (Apple released the tvOS developers kit to its developers just a couple of months ago). Understandably, there is a dearth of quality apps right now but that will change and quickly (just as the iOS ecosystem of apps changed after the release of the first iPhone).
4. How much will the new Apple TV cost?
The new Apple TV comes in two models with different storage options:
1. 32GB (AED599)
2. 64GB (AED799) – you may want to consider this option as the new Apps coming will likely provide/cater to high-definition content which can easily take up storage space on your device.
Learn more about the new Apple TV here.
Something for the tech-geek in you. Let’s compare the specifications of the old model with that of the new one.
(Image courtesy: Engadget)
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