Another new feature coming with the revamped Apple TV is universal search. This, usefully, will allow owners of the next-generation set-top box to perform a search, using either text or voice input, and see results sourced from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime. However, it now seems additional content providers will be able to add their TV shows and movies into the Apple TV’s universal search, thanks to a new API.
The news, which reached us from MacRumors, came in a story concerning BuzzFeed’s interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook. In the interview, Cook explained that developers will indeed be able to call on an incoming API in order to add their content into the Apple TV’s universal search.
At launch we’ll have iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, and HBO — so we’ll have five major inputs into universal search initially. But we’re also opening an API, so that others can join in.
This is a big deal, especially for folks like me who live outside of the United States. The API Cook describes will allow international content providers to indeed "join in" universal search, providing a better, more refined Apple TV experience for all owners of the device.
I think that many, many people will want to be in that search. And that’s great for users. Think about your experience today. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have the content you want to watch in an app, you sometimes don’t remember exactly where that show is, so you’re going to Netflix or Hulu or Showtime. You shouldn’t have to do that. It should be very simple.
Given the potentially clunkier user interface (UI) which features with the Apple TV, universal search has the power to save users’ time and patience. You don’t want to re-search between countless content providers in order to find the TV show or movie you’re looking for, and with universal search (along with the aforementioned API), you won’t have to.
I’ve got to say, the more I read about Apple’s new TV, the more I’m interested in picking up the device once it launches. I’ve never owned an Apple TV in the past (despite coming close), and at present, I access Prime Instant Video using an old PS3 which is connected to my HDTV. The experience isn’t great, though it works. With support for voice input (in certain countries), and even gaming, the new Apple TV is shaping up to be a welcome addition to the growing market of HDTV devices and dongles. Here’s hoping it launches sooner rather than later.