Should you have an Apple TV brand strategy?

Apple announced a completely new line up of devices at their latest September keynote (2015), including the iPad Pro (with Apple Pencil), the iPhone 6s, and the eagerly anticipated update to Apple TV

The launch of an all-new app store will give users (or should we call them viewers?) access to an all-new type of branded app and will make brand owners all over the world wonder if they should have their own Apple TV brand strategy.

As a creative agency specialising in helping our brands to make the most of emerging technology, the fact that we can now create apps for the new Apple TV App Store that will be enjoyed and shared by a whole new type of audience is a game-changer.

The all-new Apple TV also features an improved hard drive space (up to 64gb), a redesigned remote, Siri integration, and a completely re-imagined operating system, tvOS.

Brand building on Apple TV

The opportunity for brands (our clients) to build brand participation through the Apple TV offering is huge and, aside from the obvious use of Apple TV as a place to consume TV shows and movies, Apple’s announcement demonstrated that the device can be used for so much more, including but not limited to:

  • Games: Users can controller games with their Apple TV remote or a custom game controller, putting Apple in direct competition with the likes of Nintendo in the casual game market.
  • Shopping and retail: Luxury online shopping website Gilt demonstrated their use of the Apple TV as a whole new avenue for consumers to purchase clothes. With a swipe and a click users can add clothes to their basket, peruse sale items and make purchases from the comfort of their sofa.
  • Real estate: Property website Zillow demonstrated their app offering, allowing users to house hunt from the comfort of their own home. Users can also explore images of properties in high definition on a big screen and view key data, address, floorplans, and contact information at the click of a remote.
  • Sports: Major League Baseball introduced their At Bat App for Apple TV where users can click on a grid of games and stream any to their TV instantly at 60fps.


Developing branded apps for Apple TV

So, let’s take a quick look at the technology and how we can take our existing design and development skills from the small screen to the much bigger screen for our clients.

The new controller comes with a touch surface, built-in accelerometer, and gyroscope, presenting new opportunities for designers and developers to take advantage of a new user input device which serves to bring the user closer to their content in new ways.

Many of the new gestures will be instantly familiar to users migrating from existing iOS devices, building on swipe and tap gestures. The user is also provided with a click action, which will be the primary method of triggering actions.

Importantly, the Apple TV is the first Apple device that truly creates a shared experience; the very concept of watching TV is often enjoyed in a communal environment.

Designers are faced with new challenges such as retaining user focus, taking into account the viewers distance from the screen, and differentiating between accidental and intentional user actions.

In terms of development, Apple has provided two key avenues for creating applications for tvOS. The first is through the use of templates (which leverage traditional web languages, XML and JavaScript) and the second is through custom apps (written in Objective-C or Swift), which utilise many of the key frameworks that makes iOS development so popular including UIKit, CloudKit, and Game Center.

This gives developers the flexibility to create both quick-to-launch content-based apps building upon Apple’s design vision for tvOS, or dig deeper and create a fully customised experiences.

The future of TV is apps

As Tim Cook introduced the new opportunities for brands on Apple TV, he was typically confident / arrogant in his future prediction that TV is changing forever: “We believe that the future of TV is apps.”

Whilst we’re used to big tech brands making bold statements about the future, this one seems to be a fair assessment of the changes that will define the future of TV. Apple backed this up with the announcement of a universal purchase scheme which will allow users to enjoy their apps on both their iOS devices and the new Apple TV with a single purchase.

This approach will give many brands a completely new way of interacting with their users, without the additional cost penalty for their end consumer at the same time as providing brands with a great new opportunity to connect with their target audiences on a screen we’ve grown up with and been in love with for years.

If you’re interested in finding out how you can start to develop your own Apple TV brand strategy and you’d like some help to get your head around the opportunities then get in touch right now.