Alas another season of smartphone launches has come and gone. Once again this year we have seen a lack of any significant innovation. Regardless of whether Apple or Android are your preferred ecosystems you will have pretty much the same new toys to look forward to; a new phone, a new bigger phone, an operating system update, an enterprise focused tablet and a TV set top box. Oh and a new Apple pencil.
To the casual observer like myself it would seem that we’ve reached something of a stalemate in smartphone innovation. For the last couple of years we have seen a host of new phones which can be summed up as modest improvements on their predecessors lacking any significant innovation or anything to give cause for real excitement. Hopefully we have just entered a temporary lull in the evolution of the smartphone. The next truly exciting launch will no doubt feature a foldable, flexible, handset or displays packed with a pixel density full enough to create a 3D effect, or maybe we will even see a Star Wars style holographic display. Until then we are likely to see a continuation of slightly better than last years line-up presented with lots of exciting adjectives. Persistently describing something as incredible doesn’t make it incredible.
Thankfully it wasn’t a totally dull season of launches. Both Apple and Google are lining up to do battle for our living rooms via our TV’s. To date both companies have delivered decent smart boxes that turn your TV into an ‘internet TV’. The latest Android and Apple TV announcements have the potential to transform our viewing habits not to mention casual gaming and music.
The new Apple TV has me very excited. I’ve been a fan of Apple TV since first cutting the chord 2 years ago. It’s not without it’s flaws but like all things Apple it is reliable and works well. The new Apple TVOS and Siri enabled remote seems to be finally unlocking the full potential of Apple TV allowing us to download apps via a dedicated app store, use Apple Music, search for content simultaneously within multiple apps. The improvements to the remote are significant. Siri should remove the hassle of having to rapidly bash the menu button to backtrack out of apps to get to the main menu. Being able to double up as a Wii style game controller and pointer is pretty cool too.
Google are opting for a two strand approach with Chromecast and Android TV. Believing that the future of content consuming will revolve around the phone, Chromecast is a remarkably cheap way of mirroring content from your phone to your TV. It’s probably more accurate to describe Android TV as Android powered TV. It comes in many shapes and sizes from a range of Smart TV and set top box manufacturers. Google has announced developments to the Androit TV platform including the addition of Showtime, HBO Now, Disney Movies, Epix, WWE, UFC to their platform as well as more manufacturing partners including Sony, Sharp, Nvidia, Razer, Hisense, TLC and ‘several other’ smart TV manufacturers. Despite the rumours a new Nexus Player wasn’t announced alongside the new Chromecast. On paper the improvements to the latest Chromecast seem slight but the improved 2.4/5Ghz Wi-Fi antenna that supports 802.11ac, should see massive improvements to higher resolution screening.
As phone’s lose their gloss and with tablet sales on the slide, the next year is going to sure to be an exciting one as both Android and Apple battle it out for dominance in our living rooms. Hopefully both tech giants will maintain the pressure on each other to improve and perfect their platforms and hardware . This can only benefit us as the consumer and TV fans.
Check out Apple TV http://www.apple.com/tv/
Check out Android TV https://www.android.com/tv/