John Siracusa wrote up this great post listing out what he thinks are the very basic functionalities every streaming app should have:
Obviously, a list of even the most rudimentary features can’t help but also be opinionated. Though my tastes have surely influenced this list, I really do think that any streaming app that fails to implement nearly all of these features is failing its users. Again, these are not frills. These are the bare-bones basics.
He also pointed out this little feature with Siri on Apple TV which blew my mind:
I can ask “What did he say?” and the Apple TV will skip backwards, enable subtitles, play for a short duration, and then disable subtitles again, all on its own. Surprise and delight!
Surprise and delight, indeed! My ears are not as well-tuned to English dialogues as compared to native speakers so I often miss lines when watching movies. But I also don’t want subtitles on all the time either. This trick is going to be life-changing.
There is one Apple TV-specific thing I would like to add to this list. When a video is paused with a UI overlay with some informational text and/or scrubber, and I hit play to resume playback, I would like to be able to then hit the back button on my remote to dismiss that overlay. Having to continue watching with that overlay still obstructing or dimming the video, even for a few seconds, is a terrible experience. Or better yet, the app should just dismiss the overlay the instant the playback resumes.
The worst part is that this behaves differently on different apps which drives me up the wall. In YouTube and TV app, you can hit back and it will dismiss the overlay while still playing the video. In apps that use the native player you have to tap (not click) on the touchpad on the remote to do so. In apps like Netflix and Disney+ when you hit back it just exits out of the video player entirely! They’re all so inconsistent and it’s just pure maddening!
I don’t know what the solution should be here. It would be great if all these apps use the same native video player so the experience would be consistent across the board, but that’s never going to happen.