During its “Spring Loaded” event this afternoon, Apple revealed an updated version of its Apple TV set-top box with features new and old, but most notably with a remote that’s finally an actual remote. During the event, though, Apple listed off a bunch of features that it claims “smart TVs just don’t do” or, rather, that they don’t have the power to do because they’re not running on a powerful Apple Silicon chip. But they conveniently left out that smart TVs running on top of Google TV or even Android TV actually do just about everything mentioned.
‘Access to the world’s leading video services’
Tim Cook was quick to point out that Apple TV devices give you access to the “world’s leading video services,” and it’s an argument that really no one loses at this point in time. Google TV is just as capable here as Apple TV, offering access to Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock, and countless others. Chromecast with Google TV even supports Apple TV+.
‘Get in your morning workout’
Always the opportunist when it comes to pushing its services, Apple mentioned that the Apple TV can stream workouts through Apple Fitness+. While it’s true that Apple has a leg up on most competitors here thanks to tight integration with the Apple Watch, those on a Google TV device aren’t left out. There are many fitness and workout apps on Google TV, including the Peloton app, which can even integrate with some heart rate monitor devices.
‘Show off your school project’
While Google TV doesn’t natively support AirPlay, that doesn’t mean you can’t “show off your school” project by mirroring content from another device. In fact, the Chromecast standard that Google TV and Android TV have always supported can easily mirror content from an Android smartphone or tablet, a Chromebook, or any computer with the Chrome browser, Windows and Mac included. There are even apps that enable this functionality on iPhone and iPad.
‘Battle it out on Apple Arcade’
Gaming is a big deal for the big screen, and it’s something Android TV has always supported. You can play games downloaded from the Play Store on any Android or Google TV device, even using Google Play Pass to get a huge library for a low monthly cost while pairing virtually any controller over Bluetooth.
An added point in Google’s favor, though, is that Android TV doesn’t block game streaming services. Nvidia GeForce Now and Shadow both natively support Android TV, and Stadia is coming very soon as well. If anything, you’ll have far more choices for playing games on an Android/Google TV device than on an Apple TV and likely for a lower cost, too.
‘Sneak in a late-night movie with AirPods’
With a busy lifestyle, the evening might be the only time to catch up with your favorite TV shows, but loud sound systems can wake those who’ve already gone to sleep. Apple pushes AirPods as a reason to go for the Apple TV over competitors, but it’s not really something unique to that device.
While you’ll lose automatically pairing, you can easily connect any pair of Bluetooth headphones, AirPods included, to any Android or Google TV and watch a movie up on the big screen while keeping the sound all to yourself.
‘The only remote you need’
The redesigned remote is a huge improvement from previous Apple TV models, but it’s a bit hilarious that the new design is so remarkably similar to what Google shipped with its latest Chromecast. While Google’s design is made from recycled plastic instead, it has a similar physical button layout and the same ability to turn off your TV, as well as adjusting and muting the volume. As an added bonus, the Chromecast remote will let you switch inputs in case you need to switch over to a game console or other HDMI device.
Apple’s intentions were clear, and really, they’re not totally wrong. A set-top box or dongle is usually a better purchase than a traditional smart TV, but when we’re talking about Google TV or even Android TV, the conversation changes just a bit. After all, something like TCL’s $300 55-inch 4K TV with Android TV built-in looks mighty tempting compared to the cost of a TV and a $179 box from Apple, all to get essentially the same functionality.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.