Last year we purchased an Apple TV. My original reason for purchasing it was to eliminate all the CDs from our family room and to fiddle with putting videos on it to see how far we could get toward eliminating all the DVDs too. Little did I know that one of the features that I least cared about would be the one that made me fall in love, photos.
Shortly after bringing the Apple TV home and hooking it up I had achieved my goal. I packed up all the CDs, got rid of all the old and broken jewel cases, packed them in sleeves and relegated them to a storage box. My next order of business was to demonstrate the Apple TV for the boys. They thought it was cool to flip through the music and see the album covers, but I was stunned to see what happened next. I chose one of their favorite albums and started it up. After about a half minute of listening to a favorite song the album art faded to black to be replaced by our family photos floating upward across the screen.
To my surprise the boys were mesmerized. They were still listening to the music but they were also transfixed by the photos and started commenting on them: “I remember that”, “That’s when we …”, “Look it’s me and grandpa”, etc. I thought their reaction was cool but probably just a passing fancy with the photo screen saver.
I was wrong. Nearly a year later they still watch and comment on the photos every time we turn on some music. It was no passing fancy. It has become the way that we experience the family photo album, and I think it is better than the way I experienced family photos when I was a kid.
There are two reasons that I think it’s better, the first is frequency. Because we always use the Apple TV to listen to music the boys view and discuss our family photos far more than I ever did when I was little. I think this helps them build memories of their childhood that are far more rich and visual than mine.
The second reason is the randomness of the experience. When I was leafing through a family photo album with my parents it was always a sequential, page-by-page experience. In contrast, the photo screen saver on Apple TV selects photos randomly and displays them in larger and smaller sizes as they stream across the tv screen. I’ve seen the boys make connections between people and events of their childhood that I think were a result of seeing photos from different times and places streaming by at the same time.
I was definitely convinced that consolidating my CD collection on the Apple TV would be a great reason to buy it. Little did I know that the photo screen saver would provide such value for my family. It is our digital equivalent to sitting on the couch flipping through family albums, but even better. For us, making memories is the killer app on the Apple TV and we are tremendously pleased with the purchase a year later.