To call the new Apple TV a step up from its predecessor would be an understatement. The look and feel of the whole interface is completely different, Siri’s there to sort through content and find specific titles for you, the remote has been redesigned, and for the first time ever you can download apps onto the device.
While all of those developments are welcome additions, there’s one Apple TV feature that truly makes the viewing experience a lot easier and more convenient. If you’ve missed a piece of dialogue, you can hold down the Siri button on the remote control and ask, “What did he/she say?”
Siri will then rewind your TV show or movie by 15 seconds, turning on closed captioning until the show or film has reached the point where you initially asked the question.
It’s a clever and useful feature. It also provides an excellent example of how voice controls can be used to enhance the TV viewing experience beyond simply retrieving search results. The Apple TV is far from being the only set-top box to support voice input, but Apple applies voice controls in a way its competitors haven’t.
You can also fast-forward and rewind by speaking into the remote and saying “Skip ahead by 10 minutes” or something similar. This can be much easier than trying to pinpoint the exact moment you’re trying to find by scrolling with the remote.
Siri on the Apple TV isn’t perfect — there were some instances in which it couldn’t pull up results I requested, and at the moment it’s not very good at suggesting related content. But Siri’s playback features are compelling and useful enough to make me think voice controls on the TV aren’t just a gimmick.