Apple TV Gets In The Virtual Reality Game

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

Apple TV has been around in some iteration since 2007, with estimates putting sales at around $25 million. Now, with the recent boom of virtual reality and headsets like Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, and PlayStation’s Project Morpheus, the possibilities are more exciting than ever.

virtual reality


Apple made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed that the company has hired a team to explore the virtual reality landscape, and acquired VR brands like Metaio, Faceshift, and Emotient, and Flyby Media. While it’s unknown whether Apple will release their own headset, it makes sense that advancements in this arena would filter over to Apple TV

Last December, it was announced that Apple TV would be able to play 360-degree video content. Using the free app Littlestar, users have access to thousands of immersive videos, no headset required. Companies like Walt Disney and Mountain Dew have already gotten in on the action, and after debuting on Apple TV the app is available for Samsung Gear VR Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony PlayStation.

According to a survey by Virtual Reality specialists Greenlight VR, 75% of consumers are interested in more 360 content on connected TV devices. Littlestar started as a mobile app on Android before the iOS version was released, signaling a need and desire for both Android and iOS mobile app development to make use of this emerging technology. With much of the technology surrounding VR (both hardware and software) being so new, the best products will come from the companies who stay agile.

Reviewers have noted that the latest generation of Apple TV is the best suited for gaming, which is a huge market in the virtual reality world. In GizMag, Chris Wood wrote that “Despite Android’s gaming improvements in the last few years, it’s hard to deny that iOS gaming still has a leg up.” However, Google is rapidly developing competitive Android games as well, meaning that any company that wants to stay competitive in 2016 must have some level of flexibility to accommodate both. Since most users will likely commit to only one device, it’s smart of Apple to continue to foster mobile apps that exist on both platforms.

Apple continues to dominate the streaming TV market, but it’s still early in the game – and it’s an exciting time to watch what users will be able to do with the devices as virtual reality goes mainstream.

This is a guest post written by Laura Bolt, one of our friends at

Our thanks to and the UT Knight Center for the photo