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One of the coolest Apple TV features won’t work with Netflix or HBO

September 11th, 2015 at 5:40 PM
Apple TV Siri Feature

The Apple TV demo we saw earlier this week was unbelievably slick. In particular, some of the Siri tricks Apple showed off were especially impressive.

Tell Siri to “Show me that Modern Family episode with Edward Norton” and, boom, just like that the correct episode shows up. In another example, an Apple employee was able to use Siri to search just for the James Bond movies featuring Sean Connery.

Some of the other Apple TV features that had TV fans excited included the ability to tell a program to “skip ahead 8 minutes” or even go back 15-seconds in time if a user asks “What did he/she just say?”

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These are all great features, but there’s just one problem: they only work with TV shows and movies housed within the iTunes Store. In other words, if you’re hoping to use Siri to do some crafty searching across HBO and Netflix, you’re out of luck. Sure, you can still search for programming based on titles and stars, but all of the awesome Siri functionality Apple showed off on Wednesday is currently an iTunes only affair.

The disappointing news comes courtesy of Variety who was able to spend some time playing with Apple’s new set-top box.

Siri on Apple TV is also capable of handling multiple connected search queries, making it possible to search for Adam Sandler movies, and then follow up with a second query for “just the good ones” — something Siri determines based on their Rotten Tomatoes scores. (Results included “Punch Drunk Love” and “The Comedians.”)

Siri even offers some limited functionality while a movie is playing, and is for example able to fast forward any amount of time, or rewind a few seconds and display subtitles when asked “what did he just say?” However, so far, most of that functionality is restricted to iTunes Movies, and not available within apps like HBO Now.

Well that’s certainly a bummer, but hopefully that may change in the future if it’s at all possible for Apple to sort through all of the metadata and deliver a seamless experience for drilled-down searches across multiple content providers.

As a final point, it’s worth noting that the Siri functionality Apple showed off will only be available in eight countries at first, with Australia, France, Spain, Japan, Germany, Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. getting the favorable Apple TV treatment.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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