Mario called the meeting to order at 7:07pm. Attendees were Lonnie, Ed, Wes, Jenny, Mario, Bob, Dayle, Bev, Richard, Fred, Bill, John, Terry and Marv. The yearly dues ($20 per member) were collected by Ed.
It was told that the December meeting’s attempt at demoing Apple TV hadn’t gone very well, so Mario brought his Apple TV, connected it to a small television he also brought in, and used his phone as a mobile hotspot to get the Apple TV online. Apple TV allows music, television shows and movies that you have purchased to stream through iTunes and play on your television, and even purchase them directly through the Apple TV. You can also play movies or shows that you have on iTunes on your computer that were not purchased through the iTunes Store. Both the Apple TV and computer must be on the same network and logged in with the same Apple ID, and the computer must be running iTunes with Home Sharing turned on. Home Sharing is what allows the iTunes media library to be visible on your local wifi network.
The core of this version of Apple TV is its operating system, tvOS. The system is now open to App Developers to submit apps to work on the Apple TV. (It’s up to the iOS developers to update their apps for tvOS compatibility.) The game Crossy Road was demoed, as was a recipes app. Items that were previously “channels” on the Apple TV are now apps, such as Netflix and Hulu, where you can log in to their subscription services to watch movies and shows on your tv. But there is no web browser app for tvOS – this is not trying to be WebTV! There’s still no on-screen clock, but there’s a “Magic Fireplace” app ($1) that does display a clock.
The biggest change in the new Apple TV was the addition of Siri. The new Siri Remote has a touch pad for navigating the screen with scrolling, and a “main tv” home button (instead of pressing Menu five or six times to get back to the main screen). Siri itself has a dedicated button on the remote, which includes a microphone for speaking into. Siri can search for a movie or a show across multiple apps, such as iTunes, Netflix and Hulu. (It cannot search your local computers.) You can use contextual clues to filter down your search results by using the words “just” and “only”, for example, by saying “Just movies with Sean Connery” after your initial search. Siri can also be used to jump backward or forward during a show by saying something like “What did he just say?” or “Go back 10 seconds.” Siri is now how you turn on closed captioning for the show you’re watching.
The keyboard on the new Apple TV is still horrible; instead of a grid of alphanumeric characters, it’s now one row of characters. If you need to search, use Siri! Apple recently re-enabled the Remote app on the iPhone, which makes typing easier, but it still doesn’t support bluetooth keyboards.
The Apple TV costs $149 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model. Only the apps you download are locally stored, even movies and tv shows only use the hard drive for temporary storage as it is streamed. Just as in iOS, going to Settings > Usage shows what’s locally stored on your device.
There was a brief discussion about the current happenings at CES (the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas). The consensus was that the products at CES were, in general, well ahead of the actual consumer level. Apple fans should more look forward to WWDC in June.
Mario then went over Apple’s iPhone Upgrade program. When the iPhone 6S came out, Apple announced a new way to buy the phones – on a payment plan to Apple instead of to your carrier. You buy an unlocked iPhone and choose your carrier at time of purchase, like normal, but instead of paying a large sum up front or instead of paying your cell phone company, you pay a monthly fee to Apple. This works for any latest model phone, which is currently the 6S or 6S+. The phones come with AppleCare Plus, and you get the ability to upgrade your phone after one year – you return your phone and pick up the newest “current” phone.
When you compare prices, you aren’t necessarily saving a lot of money by using Apple’s program, but you certainly aren’t getting gouged, either. Most carriers no longer offer the two-year contract with subsidies, the monthly prices are usually higher (although Terry got Verizon to price-match), and to upgrade your phone early requires you to buy out the rest of the phone, not just trade it in. Local carriers (such Boost and Metro PCS) also offer good rates but sometimes have less coverage.
The next meeting will be held on February 11th, the second Thursday of the month, instead of February 4th.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30pm, after which several members reconvened at the local Denny’s.