I subscribe to both Lynda.com and Pluralsight (formerly Digital-Tutors) and love both of their iOS apps. What I would do is airplay a video tutorial from their apps on my iPad to the Apple TV to watch on a bigger screen. It was not ideal but it did work. Now both have released tvOS apps for the Apple TV and they are both great. Now I can eliminate the middleman that was the iPad and don't have to use Airplay. I just start up the app for either Lynda.com or Pluralsight and use the Siri remote to control things, much simpler. The tvOS apps for both are synced up so whatever playlists, history I have with either the iOS app or desktop apps is all coordinated. Just a great job by both companies in bringing their services to the Apple TV.
I love driving games and while I have played Asphalt 8 Airborne on both my iPhone and iPad I couldn't wait to try it on the Apple TV with a game controller. The Nimbus controller makes me a much better driver that is for sure. I was intrigued to see how the game would play on the Apple TV what with the way developers have to work within the confines of tvOS. I know that the game for iOS was a download of over 1.3 GB and yet the Apple TV has an initial limit of 200 MB, and then it can get 2 GB of on demand resources and go all the way up to 20 GB.
It is a new way of dealing with games for me, the idea of app thinning, slicing, on demand resources and such. I was really worried about Asphalt 8 not being the same experience that I had come to know on the iPhone/iPad. So far I have no complaints, from time to time I do have to wait while resources are downloading and also, I have had the occasional hiccup in the game where the frame rates were lower than I wanted. All in all though I greatly enjoy playing this mobile game on a much bigger screen with a nice game controller.
I know people want to compare this to a Playstation or Xbox but I know the specs of the Apple TV and honestly it is fine for the mobile, casual gamer, which is what I am in this point of my life. Still, Asphalt 8 Airborne is a good example of the games that the Apple TV can handle right now. I do think that Apple is going to have to make some concessions eventually, like the requirement that games have be able to use the Siri Remote if no game controller is present. That won't fly. Some games are more complex and need extra buttons, joysticks, etc to function properly, hopefully they drop that Siri requirement soon.
I wanted to wait a couple months or so before giving my review of the 4th gen AppleTV. Full disclosure here, I have owned every single generation of the device. My favorite one was the 2nd gen because I was able to jailbreak it and install third party software. I installed Plex that way and it was great for a good long time but the specs of that 2nd gen Apple TV eventually caught up to it. Father time is of course undefeated and catches up to everyone. Unfortunately, the 3rd gen Apple TV was never able to be jailbroken so I relied on Roku's to watch Plex. I eagerly waited for Apple to release a new version that had an App Store, that had more CPU/GPU power and it seemed like it would never happen. Well the long wait is now over!
In looking over the specs, the new Apple TV has the same specs as my iPhone 6 but improved a little. A dual A8 but clocked to 1.5 GHz, a quad-core Power VR 6450, 2 GB of RAM, and a choice of 32 or 64 GB of storage. It has an HDMI port, Infrared receiver, Bluetooth 4, a USB-C port for diagnostics, Ethernet port, Siri remote, but the Optical Audio got eliminated. The overall outer case has gotten taller to probably accommodate a heatsink and larger power supply. This is a product that has the specs of a mobile device but since it can be plugged in all the time Apple was able to increase the A8 clock speed a little.
I have read that people are upset that they can't use the USB-C port but with Plex and other apps being able to stream content, that to me is a non-issue. And this time around Apple has made sideloading content relatively easy. You can download the free X-code and use a USB-C to USB cable to sideload apps on to the Apple TV. There is an app named Provenance that is an emulator and allows you to play old NES, Sega Genesis games. In the past you would have had to jailbreak your Apple TV but now we can sideload. Progress.
I love the 4th generation Apple TV but using the Siri remote to play games with is not very enjoyable. Besides if you are playing a multiple player game it is good to have other controllers anyway, so I looked at what SteelSeries had to offer. This Nimbus game controller was hyped for the Apple TV and it seemed to be priced right and so I bought one. I was not disappointed. It is a great controller, the battery life is very good and it recharges by the use of the same Lightning cable that you use for your iPhone or iPad. They claim over 40+ hours on a single charge and that seems to be accurate. It is wireless and uses Bluetooth. They have an iOS app for the Nimbus so that you can install the latest updates. It is very solid, has good weight to it, nice construction and is very similar to what you would find in an Xbox or Playstation controller.
After my success at jailbreaking my 2nd Gen Apple TV and installing Plex and other software, I wasn't looking to buy another one. When I found a great deal on this 3rd gen I couldn't help myself, always a sucker for a great deal. I use it primarily to watch Netflix on the living room TV. Can't help but feel Apple is really missing out with this little device. I can use Airplay with my iPad and iPhone to stream music, movies and such to the Apple TV and even play games that way too, but it could do so much more. If they opened up the SDK and had an App Store, I think games would really take off in a big way. What with the Roku and others entering the smart TV market, Apple needs to step up their game.
I have been using Stratospherix FileBrowser for a couple of years now and feel many iPad users miss the boat with this app. In my opinion it is like having the Mac OS Finder for iOS. This is the main complaint people have with iOS, they want to be able to access files, copy files, move files where and when they wish to and not have to email files, or save to the Camera Roll, or use iTunes, etc.
The first app that should be bought for an iPhone/iPad user is the $5.99 FileBrowser. No, strike that, the first app paid or otherwise, has to be FileBrowser. Not a game, not Facebook, but FileBrowser.
I have this app installed on both my iPhone and iPad Pro and with FileBrowser I am able to access my Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, both Mac Pros and any hard drives connected to them, as well as a WiFi RAVPower device that has 64 GB of storage. I can move and copy files from anywhere to anywhere. Select something from Dropbox and copy it to a hard drive on my workstation Mac Pro, or select a file from Google Drive and copy it to the WiFi RavPower. I can select multiple files to move, rename files, make folders, organize, pretty much all the things that people are asking Apple to do within iOS.
FileBrowser lets you view images, stream videos and music. You can use the iOS Share and Open In commands within FileBrowser to choose an app to open a particular file or to pass a video file to another app like Infuse. I can make Bookmarks to save favorite locations that I am always navigating to, no need to waste time going from folder to folder to folder. If you are reading a document within FileBrowser you can even create a Bookmark and it will open that document to that specific page.
Too lazy to open FB and then click on a bookmark? Stratospherix has you covered! The HomeScreen links allow you to create an icon that will be added to your Home Screen on your iPad/iPhone. Say you are having to use a certain location over and over, why not make a HomeScreen link for it? FB has a Toolbar actions menu and you can 'Create a Folder Link' and then 'Add to Home Screen'. Click on the icon and it will open FB and go to that designated location.
I find it to be a very robust app and covers all my needs. Need to download a file from a URL? Check. Paste from the iOS clipboard into a new file? Check. Supports Airplay? Check. Does it have great documentation and how-to videos to learn the app quickly? Check. Even if Apple eventually gave us a Mac OS-type Finder for iOS it may never be as good as FileBrowser is right now.
I quickly bought this game after seeing it on iTunes and also the great reviews of it on iMore.com and MacBreak Weekly. My biggest pet peeve of late is this widespread movement of freemium games and IAPs (in app purchasing). It is so refreshing to see that some developers like Sirvo are steering away from that business model. The developers of Threes! put a lot of work and love into this game and the $1.99 that I spent for it was probably too low. Of course now there are clones coming out like a 1024 or 2048 and they are in most cases free, which in turn feeds this vicious cycle. There just seems to be a vast majority of people that think games should be free or at most 99 cents. How are unique, quality games going to be born in that environment?
I find this game to be a perfect mobile game and works equally as well on the iPhone as it does on the iPad. The music and sounds complement the gameplay and you do have the option to turn both of them off if you find it annoying. I confess I did turn both off after a week or two but then found myself turning them both on when I was getting higher scores. I wanted to hear what the new, higher tiles might say. Like I wanted to hear what tile 192 "ThreeJay" had to say. When he busted into an old 80s song, "You're the Best" from the Karate Kid soundtrack, it had me laughing out loud!
So far I have only been able to get up to the 768 tile, "Triferatu" and a high score of 21,000. There is a surprising amount of strategy and intuition involved in getting those higher scores. I highly recommend this game and hope Sirvo has many more to come.
This past week Monument Valley finally was made available for the Android platform. On iOS it had sold more than 500,000 downloads in the first month and was priced at $3.99. There was the typical outcry from people on iOS that the game was too short or perhaps too expensive. It is interesting to me that I see much the same thing with the Android crowd, maybe more so. Just as with my earlier blog post about Threes!, I applaud developer ustwo for not going the IAP (in app purchasing) route.
In interviews the developers said that they wanted this game to be more of an experience, more akin to watching a film. This is what makes it a real jewel of a game for me. They could have gone the freemium route, could have had way more than 10 levels, could have made you spend money along the way to unlock levels through IAPs. But I would argue that might have been a much different experience and not necessarily a better game.
For me the gameplay, the sound, the music and the story are all interwoven perfectly. This game was really meant to be experienced on the iPad and that is how I first played it. In my comfy chair, with my iPad Air, to which I had a bluetooth speaker paired! I took almost 2 hours to finish Monument Valley. I was in no rush and in fact took advantage of how easy ustwo had made it to take screen captures of the game. There were details, backgrounds, lush landscapes that I wanted to view after I had finished the game.
I heard so many people talking, bragging really, of how they beat the game in less than an hour. I feel sorry for those people because in my opinion they totally missed the point.
I feel like the 2 hours enjoyment, the experience that I had for only $3.99 was worth it. I saw a movie recently, Captain America the Winter Soldier and spent $8 for the ticket and another $12 for a drink and popcorn. I finished my popcorn in the 20 minutes of previews and the movie was over 2 hours long. Now, being a comic book geek I did enjoy the movie no doubt but was the experience better than Monument Valley? Quite frankly, no, I enjoyed myself more in the 2 hours of playing the game and then the 30 minutes after viewing the art (screen captures). So, while I spent the same amount of time, roughly 2 and a half hours, one cost me $4 and the other $20. That is a great bargain.
With the success of Monument Valley, the developers are now planning to introduce "lost scenes", additional levels which should help appease some of those who feel cheated. I will enjoy more content but it really isn't necessary for me. I would rather that ustwo concentrate on their next great game.
Firecore is a company that I had turned to when I was looking to put additional software on my Apple TV. I used the Sea3on Pass to jailbreak my 2nd Gen AppleTV and installed Firecore's aTV Flash. Then it was easy to install software like Plex. They have now developed their own iOS app called Infuse.
Infuse is a video player app that handles nearly any video file you could think of and supports subtitles. While I predominantly use Plex at home there are many times when I am out and don't have access to WIFI (my iPad doesn't have a Cellular plan). Also, I have a limited data plan with my iPhone so streaming with Plex could get expensive. This is where Infuse shines for me in that I download the videos to the iPad/iPhone and I am able to watch anytime without the need for streaming.
The user interface is first rate and it is a well thought out application. I love the control over subtitles, being able to control the color, size, and the vertical positioning of the text. Infuse automatically gathers artwork and metadata for the videos you add. It supports AirPlay so you are able to use it in conjunction with the Apple TV. If you took the time to convert your DVD movies in Handbrake and set up things like Chapters, they will show up with Infuse. The best video player application of any platform, iOS or Android.
Update Dec 5th: Infuse has been refreshed with the new iOS 7 aesthetic. I paid for Infuse 1 and was able to upgrade for free to version 2 but now Infuse 2 is free for everybody. The catch is that to get the Pro features, new users have to do an in app purchase. Still worth the money to do so but now everybody can try the free version and see how great it is. Smart move by Firecore.