November 9, 2015

448 words 3 mins read

Thoughts on use of the Apple TV (2015) in the Enterprise

Last week, as I was spending quality time with the 4th generation Apple TV, I was brainstorming about potential corporate uses for the unit. It might seem like a strange activity, but the Apple TV already has a number of non-media apps on the tvOS App store. An app like Zillow or Airbnb might be a little strange at first, but when you think about sharing your research with your family/SO, it makes a fairly nice display. On a similar vein to that, it’s very common to have TVs in conference rooms these days to hook up computers. Many businesses opt to use Apple TV’s and airplay for the hookup. However, what apps could be used?

Something I spent a lot of time working on in the old days was the concept of an “Information Radiator” (IR). It was a TV (or 6) mounted in the common areas of the office with a MacMini connected to it. These Macs were then programmed to boot up directly into Chrome (full screen) and load the webpage for a KPI Dashboard service, like

Geckoboard or Domo. It’s a fun project and looked really nice around the office (especially impressive to visitors). However it wasn’t super easy (dealing with Apple scripting and notifications and etc) and it’s a bit time consuming. Most problematic was that having a half dozen machines (or more) that needed to be pulled down and updated periodically (which might break your tools).

So where does the Apple TV come in? It’d be awesome if one could replace the MacMini concept with, say a Geckoboard app on the Apple TV. The price alone would be a huge help, dropping from $500 a TV to $150 a TV. Beyond that the Apple TVs are less likely to fail (flash memory vs spinning disk on mac mini) and much easier to keep up to date (though it’s much less required).

What else could we use the Apple TV for in business? Well I presume the Enterprise app store will eventually make it to Apple TV, so then you’d have an entire fleet of private applications one could potentially install. Some random ideas I had:

  • Streaming video from “All Hands” (town hall) meetings
  • Pre-recorded training videos & classroom material
  • Corporate “TV” channel
  • Intranet like dashboards (think ‘whats for lunch today’ and ‘where do I go for x’)
None of these uses are particularly groundbreaking, but the low cost of Apple TV combined with the ease of tvOS development could mean a lot of private enterprise apps are headed our way. Even for those without access to an enterprise app store, a lot of more corporate apps will probably be appearing for tvOS.