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CES: Apple surrenders to Smart TVs

Apple made waves at CES as big TV brands announced built-in software, writes BRYAN TURNER.

Every year at the CES expo, the biggest brands in TV technology showcase what they think the latest hardware and software will be in consumers’ living rooms.

Samsung revealed the concept of the modular TV, which is made up of square display panels that can be clipped and unclipped to any shape. LG unveiled a rollable TV, which rolls up like a poster when it’s not being used.

Apart from the physical upgrades, embedded smart TV software is also getting better. These upgrades pose a threat to smart TV boxes, like Roku and Apple TV, as they will become redundant. 

In a strategic move, Apple has opened up its revenue-generating movie service, iTunes Movies, to Samsung as a smart TV app. This will allow consumers to rent or buy movies through Apple’s service without the need for an Apple device.

Apple’s AirPlay 2 streaming platform has also come to major TV brands like Samsung, VIZIO, Sony, and LG. This will allow iOS and macOS users to mirror their devices’ screens on their smart TVs, as well as stream music to their TV speakers without the need for an Apple TV. A select few existing smart TV models from 2018 will receive an update to support AirPlay 2, although no models have been confirmed. 

HomeKit, Apple’s smart home device software, will also feature on VIZIO, Sony, and LG TVs. This will allow users to control their TVs with the Home app on iOS or with Apple’s voice assistant, Siri.

“By adding support for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, users can play content from their iPhone, iPad and Mac directly to our TVs,” said Bill Baxter, CTO at Vizio, “This will enable controlling the TV through the Home app and Siri.” 

These moves aren’t unusual for Apple, as the company has licensed software on other platforms to expand the audience of its product line. For example, releasing iTunes on Windows didn’t suggest that the company was in trouble and, instead, boosted iPod sales in the early 2000s. 

It does, however, suggest that the company is feeling pressure to keep its services relevant in an ever-changing market.

Click here to see which TV models will support Apple’s software.

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