Apple’s new iMacs are great, but can we get an iTV already?

Apple TV ipad iphoneRunning his hand along the slender 5-millimeter-thick edge, Apple’s Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, debuted the company’s newest iMac. “It’s hard to believe there’s even a display in there,” Schiller said, highlighting how outlandishly thin it is.  

Though Schiller said the new iMac “epitomizes something Apple does so well, to create an innovative, breakthrough product,” the last time an iMac was a breakthrough product was when it was introduced in 1998. Yes, everything on display at the October 23 launch featured top-of-the-line specs and dazzling improvements, but nothing felt truly new. Where are the disruptive technologies of launches past? The one area that many of us have prayed Apple would dive into is the HDTV market. So where is the iTV?

There’s a market for computers large enough and thin enough to double as televisions, and Apple has all the key ingredients to build one. Creating an Apple-branded flat-screen HDTV that doubles as a powerful computer would surely make an impact on the television market. And though it’s a good start, Apple has only inched into the arena with its current Apple TV set-top box.

Computers are far more versatile than TVs. Not only can people watch televised content through a myriad of sources, including Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, and iTunes, but they can also enjoy full Internet browsing and productive capabilities native to a computer. That being said, today’s Smart TVs are already doing a pretty good job at blurring the lines between computer and TV. Most Smart TVs offer streaming from the above sources, and many of them offer Internet browsers with support for Flash; what they don’t offer is the kind of clean, simple user interface that Apple has leveraged through the years to turn customers into obsessives.  

As TV manufacturers struggle to integrate the increasing functionality of their products, Apple could easily leapfrog ahead of them. But don’t take our word for it. Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs’ authorized biographer, quotes the late Apple founder on the subject in Steve Jobs:

“‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.'”

Although we know Apple can do it, the company has not yet made large displays with competitive pixel resolution. The new iMacs lack Retina Display, but come packing a 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution on the 21.5-inch model, and a 2560-by-1440-pixel resolution on the 27-inch model. Coupled with the laminated screen and 300-nit brightness, it is almost ready to wrangle with some of the HDTVs already on the market. No, it’s not Plasma or LCD/ LED technology, but it’s very good, and it leaves us with no doubt that Apple’s talented staff could (and perhaps do) already have a prototype capable of making current purveyors like Sony tremble.

Perhaps more important than the hardware, though, is the need for a content ecosystem robust enough to convince the average consumer to cut their cable cords. The Apple TV is a good start, since it marries iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo, and other streaming services, but Apple would have to up its ante to compete with traditional cable companies.

Jobs knew this, as evidenced by his efforts to reach out to content partners in a possible attempt to create a streaming media service. Reported back in March by Engadget, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves disclosed Jobs’ advances towards establishing a partnership. Moonves chose to decline the partnership due to concerns about the impact it would have on existing revenue streams.

One way of working around the challenges of quickly establishing a content system as comprehensive as those of cable companies is to shift the emphasis away from the convenience of browsing channels over to the convenience of having a mounted computer. As more television networks have recognized the importance of streaming content, more shows have become available online. In an ideal world, the TV industry would have the future of computers built into TVs, but we think the future of TV is actually on computers. Because of that, it makes sense that an iTV would do more to blur the lines between computers and TVs than any other product so far. It also makes sense for Apple to stop trying to fit the outmoded concept of network time slots into its usually forward-thinking vision, and champion streaming.

What Jobs claimed to have “cracked” remains out of his company’s reach for the time being. Apple’s recent launch introduced some attractive devices, but none of them shifted paradigms in the same way as the iPod, iPhone, or iPad have done in the past. And though the company isn’t quite there yet, it won’t have another watershed moment until it introduces something as legitimately game-changing as an iTV – or something equally novel.


Tumblr for iOS vanishes from App Store, possibly due to inappropriate content

Tumblr for iOS is currently only allowing searches in Safe Mode, and it is not available on the App Store. The speculation is that the app's disappearance had something to do with inappropriate content.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.

The best iPhone deals for November 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for November 2018.

Apple applies for a patent on a wrap-around iPhone display

Previously, Apple was awarded a patent for a foldable phone, and the company has been rumored to be working on one. But it's not at all similar to other concepts. Here's everything we know about a folding iPhone.

The best Apple Watch deals for November 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.

Save up to $850 with the best smartphone deals for November 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $850.

The best iPad deals for November 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for November 2018.

How does fast charging work? Here’s every single standard compared

Modern smartphones can charge in mere minutes instead of hours. How does fast charging work? Here's a guide to the most popular standards, including Qualcomm Quick Charge, Apple fast charging, OnePlus Dash Charge, and more.

The Google Photos iOS app gets a bit better, now has depth control

Google updated the iOS version of the Google Photos app to now take advantage of the depth data that can be captured by the iPhone's camera in Portrait Mode. The new feature is already available in the Android app.

All the best Apple MacBook deals for Black Friday 2018

Shoppers looking for a new Apple laptop could find huge savings on a new MacBook come Black Friday. Retailers are offering discounts as much as $650 on select MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models this holiday season.

Apple confirms it’s collecting data on foot to improve its Maps app

Apple has been using cars and satellites to improve its Maps app, and it's now confirmed it's also using tech-laden pedestrians to collect data from the streets in a bid to provide better walking directions.