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Authors note. This is Gonzo journalism complete with my own bias and ignorance.
I didn’t expect the Apple TV to be so small. In fact, I thought that it was going to be as big as my PS4 but I’ve been wrong on numerous occasions, including the time I’ve tried to cash a check using an Android phone but I thought that my deductions over the years would have sharpened with the amount of times I’ve been wrong. I guess I am not so lucky.
I was amazed at how lite the TV was. I could fit it in my pocket if I wanted to and it would even have enough room for a cord or two. Hooking it up was a bit weird because I thought that Apple would include an HDMI cable in the box. None appeared. No matter, though, because I had enough HDMI cords to strangle an elephant so it took me five minutes to get the Apple TV up and running.
I will be the first to tell you that I am a huge idiot in two areas. Math and working Apple products. There are way smarter people out there who can do what I try to do with Apple devices and they do it with gusto. Setting up the Apple TV with VoiceOver, however, was so simple I couldn’t believe it. After choosing to synch my data with my iPod Touch by setting it within cuddling distance to the device I was off to the races. The only laborious process was entering all of my non Apple login information such as Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and others. What made this so cumbersome was the fact I used a password generator for each account so I had all sorts of fun swiping the remote to enter passwords like *&^&%UYGUYG!
After 24 hours of entering a few non Apple passwords I was really having fun. I played with a few apps on the Apple TV, a bit dismayed that high contrast did not seem to work for me on my TV, but still, having all sorts of fun lying in bed browsing my Netflix with just a single thumb. It’s not as tiresome as many would imagine and I don’t even have to do any complicated gestures except for when I want to close an application. After downloading all the apps I wanted I decided to check for updates. Sure enough, there was an OS TV update that would allow me to use a Bluetooth keyboard. Since I really liked the idea of using my Zag Limitless keyboard with the TV I downloaded the update straight away and waited for my often buggy internet service to heave the update to the device. I could just hear the bytes cramming to make it to the device.
After the update, I hooked up the keyboard with no problem. I browsed the Hulu TV shows with no sweat at all, and I even played a few Pandora songs while holding the keyboard in my lap on my toilet. I was really liking the ease of the keyboard even though I had to enable keyboard help more times than I would have liked to.
Operating the TV is a lot simpler via keyboard than operating anything else Apple, in my opinion, mainly because in this operating system you can use the enter key to make a selection. Trust me, it seems like a small thing but it really makes a world of difference when you want to do something quickly and have cerebral palsy such as I. my Zag keyboard was great at navigating areas and going into apps and otherwise. The only problem is that; I couldn’t close an application with my keyboard.
I dealt with it at first, with my keyboard on my lap and the remote by my side, I would navigate to the application selection screen and the close application router selection with the keyboard then close the application with my remote. Still, this became really weird over time, especially once I lost my Apple TV remote. I figured that there would have to be a way to close a background application on the TV with this keyboard, Right?
I found it a little weird that every time I wanted to start out with no applications open, that I would need to go into settings and restart the Apple TV with the keyboard. Apple was always the company that were very much into creating better user experiences so, I thought there was something I was missing. To be sure, I tried everything I knew. After selecting close application from the router options, I hit VoiceOver plus space. I was taken back into the application. I tried selecting close application with the enter key. That didn’t work. I tried VoiceOver plus M and that didn’t work either. I tried double tapping the VoiceOver plus space bar command after selecting the router option. That didn’t work. On the remote, all I did was push in on the remote to do the selected, close application, action, so why wasn’t the same thing happening on my keyboard? Did this keyboard hate me because I slept with great looking guys rather than its sleek design? I stroked it and promised I’d get it a case because of my negligence, but the previous commands still took me back into the application rather than closing it.
I tried listening to some of David Woodbridge’s podcasts on the Apple TV that I thought would have a Bluetooth keyboard tutorial in them. Even though I liked his podcasts because of various gay and straight reasons, I couldn’t find a tutorial he did on the Apple TV and Bluetooth keyboards.
I decided to tweet him. To this date, he has not replied to my questions but I decided to call Apple’s accessibility team and see if they could help me. I called them using the sprint relay website so below is just part of the conversation I had, about the act of closing an application.
Me: hi I am trying to close a background application with VoiceOver on the Apple TV and a Bluetooth keyboard. Could you help me with this? GO AHEAD.
AGENT: yes, sir! I certainly can. You hit escape, sir. Did you try that? GO AHEAD.
ME: but that doesn’t close the application that just puts it in the background. I am trying to close an application that is open in the background. After I select the close router option from the router then what keyboard commands do I press in order to close the background application? GO AHEAD.
AGENT: could you hold for a few minutes please? GO AHEAD.
ME: YES. GO AHEAD.
45 MINUTES LATER. AGENT. HI SIR! I am back! Can I please take down your email address and phone number and call you back? Relaying your email. Relaying your fax number as requested. Relaying your phone number as requested. Confirming spelling of email. Still confirming. Still confirming. Still confirming. Still confirming. OKAY great! I am going to call you back okay? GO AHEAD SKSK.
She never called me back nor emailed me back. The second rep could not help me out either. After an hour of us trying commands and looking things up he asked to email me and open up a case. I won’t lie, I felt really special. I was the only blind man on the planet who couldn’t figure out how to close an application with a keyboard on the Apple TV.
Two days later, this email arrived in my inbox. I tried the commands listed in the resource he gave but they didn’t work, either.
I am still researching the resolution for the keyboard command to remove apps from the background on your Apple TV, in the meantime, I wanted to share this link I came across for keyboard commands with VoiceOver.
I tried asking the blind groups on Facebook. I even tried pressing Alt F4. I tried pressing VoiceOver plus the alt key plus space bar. Sadly, this issue has not been resolved at the time of this writing. There’s still a case number opened at Apple about closing background apps on the Apple TV. I wonder if there’s an award for the weirdest incidents in life or any odd happenings, because I am sure the team are perplexed by this case number, just as I am.
To this day, I happily still use the keyboard with my Apple TV but the Apple remote always rests by my side. I’m thinking about getting my case number engraved on the back of it to prove to people that, yes, I am that Bluetooth background application guy.
Who knows, maybe Apple will need to fix this with an update. Maybe my case number will be noted in the bug fixes. I sure hope so.
Just as an afterthought, I tried looking for the remote application on my iPod Touch and can’t seem to find the Apple remote application. There’s a bunch of other remote applications, but I seem to have failed at finding it.
Sometimes, I am amazed at how much I amaze myself. Can you hear the Apple remote laughing at its owner?