Okay, so here’s a bold statement - Apple TV OS is far superior to Fire TV OS.
Now you will be, like, how can we compare the $179 Apple TV to the $49 FireStick 4K?
We’ll answer that by the end, but as of now, we won’t be comparing the hardware – we’ll take a look at the software. And just for the software, the tvOS experience is far better than what we get with Fire TV Sticks. Let me show you how.
Also, for this video, we’ll use the latest version of both systems i.e. FireOS's latest version is FireOS 7 and for Apple TV - tvOS 14.
Okay, the first reason why tvOS is better than Fire TV stick is the interface. Let’s start with the interface of both systems.
Here’s my Fire TV stick, if I go to Netflix, I can see the subtitles options at the bottom, Prime Video options pops in the middle of the screen and Hotstar on the top left. Similarly, there’s no universal voice search in-app like Prime Video or Netflix.
Now, let’s take a look at tvOS. No matter which streaming service you use on Apple TV, Apple forces them to use consistent video options on the top, as you can see, Netflix has it on the top, which you can bring from the swipe down, similarly, the same UI is present for Prime Video, Disney+, etc. And not just in most streaming apps on tvOS there is a voice search feature as well, which was missing in the Fire TV OS.
Now, the second reason, why tvOS is better than Fire TV stick is the ads.
While you can get a Fire TV stick for a 50% discount on the Prime days, you end up paying for that with ads. Okay, so Fire TV doesn’t have Ads as in your face ads, but it does have the ads are mixed in with your menu items.
Let me show you, so, the moment you launch your Fire TV, you’re met with large banners for Amazon Prime content. When your navigation hovers over the banners, they automatically play trailers that you can’t disable. Also, I’m not sure if I can show you right now, but a lot of time when you play Amazon content, you are greeted with 5-10 seconds of unskipable ads for Amazon original content.
Apple TV, on the other hand, doesn’t feature any advertisements, not even of their Apple TV originals. For example, the top of the menu features banners with Apple TV+ content. When you hover over the banners, the content’s trailer starts playing automatically. However, this feature wasn’t well-received by many users. As such, Apple released a tvOS 13.3 update, introducing a disable option in the settings, allowing you to turn off the auto-play feature.
The third reason I like tvOS is the remote.
The Fire TV remote comes with a simple yet functional remote, it includes a microphone button, allowing you to navigate the menu through Alexa voice commands.
While, I don’t have any complains with Fire TV stick remote, the new Apple TV remote is at whole different level. The new improved remote, comes with a touchpad with which you can navigate through swiping gestures. It also got a new scrub feature while lets you scrub the show you were watching like you did with old iPods. I found the touchpad could be a little tricky in the beginning, but you get used to it in some time. The Siri remote also includes a microphone button now at the side and the new Mute button is a long-overdue addition.
And finally, the smartphone app for both is drastically different.
Fire TV has done a pretty terrible job with its smartphone app. The app’s features are pretty basic, making it act like just another remote. You can navigate through the menu using the app’s trackpad, access different apps, use the microphone button for voice controls, and control the volume — basically all the same features as the remote.
The Fire TV app only has one useful feature — the smartphone keypad. When you need to search for something, you can use the phone’s keypad rather than entering the text on the TV, which can be cumbersome. However, the app is so prone to glitching and disconnecting from the Fire TV device that I stopped using it after a few days.
On the other hand, your iPhone automatically becomes a remote control for your Apple TV device. You get extra options that you don’t get in Fire TV OS, such as Activate Screen Mirroring to mirror your phone’s screen on your TV.
Apple TV has the most brilliant screen mirroring and casting features. You can simply swipe up from your phone and tap Screen Mirroring or AirPlay to either mirror your phone’s screen or cast content from your phone to your Apple TV. If you want to do to this on Fire TV stick, you will need a third-party app.
You can Activate Private Listening by tapping the Bluetooth icon and connecting your headphones and you can Control Apple TV playback from your Apple TV app or lock screen.
However, the Apple TV app and smartphone integration are only available for iOS users. If you’re an Android user, you’ll have to download third-party apps to access a fraction of the features available, by default, to all iOS users
Overall, Fire TV and Apple TV are meant for completely different sets of people. Fire TV is largely meant for budget-conscious buyers while Apple TV is meant for those who are willing to pay more for advanced non-essential features. Fire TV is largely meant for Android/Amazon users. Apple TV is largely meant for Apple purists, i.e., those with various iOS devices.
Okay, back to the question we asked at the beginning? How can we compare the $179 of Apple TV versus the $49 FireStick 4K?
Well, this is one of those scenarios where, objectively, the extra $130 is not worth it for two devices that do functionally the same thing. But in terms of everyday usability, that additional outlay has already been worth it.
I like the tvOS better and I think, it’s worth paying $130 for the software experience, I’m not even counting the powerful hardware you get with it.
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