New Apple TV: What it Means to the Enterprise

September 21st, 2015Mobility

The reinvented Apple TV was the most ground-breaking product announcement of Apple’s “Hey Siri” event on September 8. The tvOS ribbon cutting advanced Apple’s “hobby” to a full-fledged foundation for multi-industry converged services.

Tim Cook proclaimed that, “The future of TV is… apps” and spent a lot of time proving it. First, he used Siri voice commands, such as, “What did she say?” to replay the last 15 seconds of a movie with subtitles. Then he used Siri to search for movies across providers and actors, followed by swiping the touch pad to provide more details about the resulting content. The game demos were also quite impressive. And this is just the beginning. Although the launch focused on how the new Apple TV will reshape how you watch TV, the prospect of many new apps that integrate with our surroundings will drive user engagement experiences never before possible. The device’s new hardware includes the powerful 64-bit A8 chip as its processor (the same chip used for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus), but with more RAM. So, it is capable of doing many more things – like being the central hub that manages equipment and information in your home (or Office).

Homekit extended capability has already been available with the previously released (3rd Generation) Apple TV. You can control HomeKit-enabled devices from anywhere using your iOS device and iCloud. Some accessories are also now available. However, Apple’s strict security requirements for Bluetooth LE are causing the roll out of accessories to be slow. Relief is on its way with new chips that can handle the heavy-duty encryption demands. Focusing on security first with efficiency following is certainly the right working model. Apple is imposing additional restrictions that make it more difficult for developers but result in greater security and customer experience. For example, the Apple TV will not allow web views. This greatly reduces web exploits and eliminates poor rendering on large screens. Another example is the interaction with games on the Apple TV, which will require the use of the Apple Remote.

Today, each family of accessories still needs its own app. However, the HomeKit standard communication protocols will allow accessory bundling of different apps and services (similar to searching for movies across multiple providers). Events such as the setting of the sun or giving commands like “Good night, Siri” will activate programmed actions on devices managed by Apple TV. With HomeKit, the administrator can also delegate rights to shared users.

Remote management of Apple TV is not new and has been available for some time by MDM providers like AirWatch. A typical use case for this technology is teachers managing rights on a classroom projector via an Apple TV. To enroll, you need a micro USB cable and Mac running Apple Configurator to install the MDM profile on the Apple TV.   Then configuration profiles can be added over the air, including advanced wireless and proxy settings. Users associated with the Apple TV can be enabled via a Self-Service portal. Savvy enterprises are already thinking about how the Apple TV could be used and administered in a similar way to deliver corporate information.

Apple TV Developer Kit is now being made available along with the first wave of devices in 11 countries. With tvOS being a very close cousin to iOS, the number of Apple TV apps will ramp up quite quickly. Then enterprise apps and management will soon follow.

The new Apple TV will be a major force in the consumerization of IT and will open many new possibilities. Let’s just review the power of this $150 device that fits in the palm of your hand: a 64 bit processor that has 2 billion transistors, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB of storage, high speed wireless, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI H.264 (supporting video up to 1080p and 60 frames per second), Siri Remote with advanced touch pad designed to be viewable from a distance, IR transmitter (for TV volume), accelerometer, gyroscope, lightning connector for charging and the ability to connect with iOS devices and many new Bluetooth controllers like Guitar Hero Live. The new tvOS app store will build off the explosive growth of Apple’s existing app store that has over 1.5 million apps available for iOS devices, along with Homekit and HealthKit protocols to pair apps with an ecosystem of accessories managed through Apple TV and iCloud.

The thing to keep in mind is that apps are going to be in everything, not just TVs. Tomorrow’s mundane office content itself will be delivered in the form of apps, not just an electronic representation of paper as is true today. Content has always been king, but with technology the content will be increasingly dynamic, adaptive, interactive and aware. We can get a glimpse into this leap in content functionality with Apple’s iOS 9 introduction of Live Photos. We think of a photo as an instant frozen in time. However when you touch a Live Photo, it becomes alive and plays 1.5 seconds before and after the photo was taken.

As with any benefit there are risks. And certainly opening up enterprise data to this level of functionality will not be easy. The implications of passive listening are just starting to attract attention as shown in this video of Siri interrupting a White House press briefing. Soon Siri will be able to recognize our individual voices without the press of a button. For enterprises, the Internet of Things (IoT) is not a choice – it is a necessity for survival. Without a strategy that leverages powerful instrumentation and model-based predictive workflows, they will lose relevance in the minds of their employees and customers. Consumers will want the best possible experience regardless of where they are and how they are connected – and the bar will dramatically be lifted with the rapidly growing number of apps and connected accessories coming to the Apple TV.

Rethinking product development, marketing and engagement service models that leverage the surroundings and user intent will be key. This level of innovation will first occur in the home and then the office. In the not too far distant future, rollable OLED Displays will be everywhere and we will interact with them via an endless number of controllers and apps that gather information from sensors and accessories. Soon our work days will not center on keyboards and monitors on our desks or mobile devices held in our hands. The new level of apps that integrate with a large ecosystem of accessories is near. It will fundamentally change the way we watch TV, play games, learn, shop, manage our homes, consult with our Doctor, conduct social activities – and, let’s not forget, the way enterprises function!

Tags-   AirWatch Apple Apple TV Apps Homekit iOS Mobility