News Column

Apple's Smart TV a Long Time Coming

Jan 7, 2013

One of the most interesting revelations in Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs was that the late Apple founder was working on a television and had just figured out how to make it great.

Yet the book came out a year and a half ago. Where's the Apple TV?

If rumors are to believed, it's still coming. Supposedly Apple is in the process of building prototypes and testing out various designs with Chinese manufacturers.

We're also overdue for another crazy new creation from Apple. The iPhone and iPad are now mature devices that will likely only get tweaked from now on. They're still great products, but they'll never recapture the excitement levels they generated when they came out.

Sure, they'll sell well, but tech companies need to keep creating and taking risks in order to stay relevant for the long term. No one can coast on past successes forever - look at Research in Motion and its BlackBerry.

Unless disaster strikes, the Apple TV is coming. But the bigger question is this - do we really need one?

TVs are getting online. All the major manufacturers have TVs that can stream video online, connect to the web and even download apps.

You don't even have to buy a new TV: Streaming boxes, Blu-ray players, audio receivers, video game systems and more will give you the same capabilities. I'm braced for the first toaster with streaming capabilities.

The problem is that none of the devices - with the possible exception of the Xbox 360 - does it all well. Most televisions make getting to all of these online extras a chore, and many of them are buggy to boot. Even Google TV was a complicated mess.

For smart TVs to really take off, they need to be made appealing and user-friendly so that even your grandmother will use it. We're still far from that point.

This is why people are excited about an Apple television. Not because it's yet another iProduct, but because Apple excels at appeal and user-friendliness. Televisions sorely need both.

On top of that, the competition will force everyone else to make their televisions better. Part of the reason Android has evolved into an appealing operating system is because Google knew it couldn't sit back and concede the market to Apple.

That's the hope, at least. Time will tell if Apple can deliver.

App of the week: Fitocracy (iOS)

It's one thing to make a New Year's resolution to be healthier, but it's quite another to actually stick with it. Fitocracy aims to help with that not just by offering tips and motivation but also by making workouts fun.

Fitocracy is a social network that allows you to follow individuals and specific groups dedicated to specific forms of exercise, and you can see posts and leave comments. But the personal fitness tracker makes things really interesting because working out gives you points.

You can try challenges, earn achievements and even undertake "quests." Can you slay the laziness dragon?

Fitocracy Inc., free

Suggest an app for App of the Week at

Gear up for Consumer Electronics Show

By the time you're reading this, I'll be on my way to Las Vegas to cover the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show - the biggest tech show in the world. It fills up every inch of the million square feet inside the Las Vegas Convention Center and overflows into hotels all over the Strip.

Most major companies will be there to show off their latest and upcoming gadgets. During past CES events I've seen everything from new smart TVs and computers to hovering drones, devices that can be controlled with your eyes and other oddities.

Source: (C) 2013 Tulsa World. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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