Apple TV is a radical rethinking of your relationship with the hardware and games you own

This week, for the first time since it debuted in 2007, the Apple TV will welcome native games. But games are far from the only first for Apple's new set-top box. Behind the scenes, apps will run on an aggressive, intelligent operating system called tvOS. In many ways, tvOS is a radical rethinking of the fundamental nature of operating systems and our relationship with them. And because of that, its rules and limitations look odd.

Listen to this story in the episode of Polygon Longform, our features podcast, below.

To pick one prominent example, developers — including game makers — must constrain their initial app downloads to 200 MB or less. That size seems paltry on a device that ships in 32 GB and 64 GB flavors. Even on smartphones, games can be much larger than 200 MB. On Apple TV, there's far more to the story.

Peer a little deeper, though, and you find more strange departures. tvOS is content to take some control away from app makers and Apple TV users, and it does so with purpose and philosophy. In this new operating system, you can see Apple's vision for a future where apps download quickly and transparently and nobody has to worry about managing storage space. tvOS will do that for you.

Crossy Road's Psy

There's a group of technologies at the core of the new Apple TV — and other Apple devices you may already own — that the Cupertino, California-based company created to ease technological burdens. It's called App Thinning, and Apple is already employing it to make apps more efficient and users less confused.

To do this, Apple is asserting control of the Apple TV's internal storage, adding and deleting data as it deems necessary without user input. But will consumers see the benefits or become annoyed when their devices automatically purge and re-download data?

All of this requires some work on a developer's behalf, but it doesn't seem onerous. It also requires Apple to manage and deliver a vast array of on-demand resources consistently and, by design, transparently. That's not trivial, and though Apple has improved since the days of MobileMe, it's not a company with a sterling cloud-services reputation.

In the weeks since Apple revealed its new set-top box, we've scoured the company's developer documentation and spoken with several game developers about the Apple TV's potential. Reactions are mixed. Some are bullish, others outright skeptical. Still others see potential but aren't ready to commit.

Indifferent to the excitement and the trepidation, the new Apple TV will begin shipping this week. Though few who plug in their set-top boxes will know it, they'll become test pilots for a series of technologies that could provide a new paradigm for distributing and managing storage on computers, whether they sit in your lap, rest in your hand or live tethered to your TV. And if it works, it might have a lot to teach gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U.

This shouldn't be surprising. After all, this is Apple. It's an opinionated company, confident in making controversial decisions that it believes will benefit its customers. Since its founding, Apple has been a company that loves nothing quite so much as creating small technological wonders that are drop-dead simple to use. Why would it be any different when Apple set its sights on TV?

But even though most Apple TV users will never understand what makes the box and its operating system, tvOS, tick, it remains fascinating — and far more complex than the shock of a 200 MB initial app download might lead you to believe.

Apple takes control of your storage

Shortly after Apple revealed the new Apple TV last month, the company released the nascent platform's developer documentation. Designed to help those who want to get their apps on the new hardware, it advises developers of a strange limitation built into the system.

In short, app makers cannot count on storing their entire apps on the device.

The iPhone 6S line

Apple addresses this in its developer documentation, in a section called Resource Limitations.

"There is no persistent local storage for apps on Apple TV," it reads. "This means that every app developed for the new Apple TV must be able to store data in iCloud and retrieve it in a way that provides a great customer experience."

In other words, do not assume you'll be installed, even if someone downloaded your software. But that'll be OK because of iCloud.

"Along with the lack of local storage," the section continues, "the maximum size of an Apple TV app is limited to 200MB. Anything beyond this size needs to be packaged and loaded using on-demand resources. Knowing how and when to load new assets while keeping your users engaged is critical to creating a successful app."

And there's the phrase — "lack of local storage" — that set the internet aflame. It seems odd, but there is a reasonable explanation. Also, although App Thinning technology is already live on iOS 9 devices, it's optional, and the internet is not filled with outcry. Its implementation will be more aggressive on Apple TV, though. Under your TV, it's not optional.

Apple's bold new rules are already a reality on iOS and watchOS. Developers have known about them for months. And we know why, despite their bizarre first appearance, there are practical explanations for their existence that are often every bit as interesting as a cursory glance at the 200 MB limitation.

How Apple TV storage works

Apple TV apps — games, social networks, video services, whatever — downloaded from the App Store have an initial 200 MB size limit. So while it's technically true that apps are constrained, that refers only to the size of the initial download. There's more to the story — and far more storage available, even if it's not guaranteed.

This is possible because of two Apple technologies — tagging and on-demand resources — both of which are components of Apple's larger App Thinning initiative. It's designed to divvy up apps into little pieces — think Lego blocks — that get downloaded only when they're needed. This, the theory goes, saves storage space by installing only what an app needs — and by deleting what it doesn't need.

Developers will do this with tags, which are effectively labels for groups of related resources. Used with on-demand resources, tags allow a developer to label groups of assets and store them in the cloud, where they're ready to download whenever an app needs them.

Think of a tutorial level, an important but transient part of any game. You'll play it shortly after launching a game for the first time. But once you're done, you're unlikely to play it again. Normally, it'd live in your internal storage, consuming space regardless of whether you ever play it again.

A screenshot of Guitar Hero Live's iPad version Guitar Hero Live's iPad version, which lets those who download it play a song packaged as part of the download

tvOS was designed with situations like this in mind.

An Apple TV developer with a tutorial level could keep the initial 200 MB app bundle small, tagging everything necessary to start the game as "initial install tags." The data users download would include the first things you'd do in the game — like, say, the tutorial.

After you download and install the 200 MB initial app bundle, the app can immediately request additional items from the cloud. In fact, developers can designate up to 2 GB of resources to be downloaded automatically after installation. In Apple's parlance, those are known as "prefetched" tags. You can still launch the app, but prefetched tags are also downloading in the background, ready to add more functionality to the app.

The final category of assets lives in the cloud — iCloud, in Apple's parlance — and only gets downloaded from the App Store's servers when the app requests it. Developers have access to 20 GB of hosted, on-demand resources.

Of course, Apple's servers will have to work as expected, delivering those on-demand resources quickly and transparently, for this to work. If there's an error or an outage, Apple TV users could find themselves in a situation where they can launch an app but can't play it because its required resources aren't available to download. Still, assuming Apple's servers are functional, as an Apple TV user, all you'd typically know is that you downloaded an app. You launched it and you started playing. Apple's new operating system paradigm is designed to take care of the rest.

Using this architecture, all of the bits and bytes that, together, make up the whole of every Apple TV app live in some combination two places: Apple's servers and on your Apple TV. Here's how it breaks down:

  • The app bundle, accessible through the App Store, limited to 200 MB
  • Initial install tags, which are on-demand resources limited to a total of 2 GB (in addition to the 200 MB initial app bundle)
  • Prefetched data, which is prioritized for automatic download after the initial app bundle's installation
  • Data hosted by the App Store, available on demand, limited to a total pre-sliced size of 20 GB (in addition to the app bundle's size limit)

On your Apple TV, these slices combine into an app, the local storage state of which tvOS manages, adding and deleting data as it deems necessary. For example, if you're running out of internal storage, tvOS reserves the right to delete data. Further, on-demand resources also carry the benefit of being less likely to be purged than data stored elsewhere, like in temporary directories or in caches. Developers can even set the priority of the assets, telling tvOS that some assets should be purged before others.

Typical users may never know about any of this. In fact, that's the point. Apple created the software to make this happen, and as long as developers follow Apple's rules, they'll be able to prepare for the way this system runs — automatically, transparently and without a user's input. To do this, Apple is claiming ultimate ownership over the file management on its hardware. It's not like a Mac or a Windows PC, where the user has access to the file system and can manage storage at will. In the new Apple TV, Apple asserts control.

Users shouldn't need to manage their local data, if the system works as intended. It is a new paradigm, built with trade-offs at its core. Users will sacrifice control for simplicity. And while it is different from many of its contemporaries, it is not a surprise. Had you been paying attention, you could have seen this coming last summer.

The new Apple TV

How it came to this: App Thinning, slicing and on-demand resources

At its Worldwide Developer's Conference in 2015, Apple's annual gathering of developers, the company revealed a new technology called App Thinning, which introduces two related concepts: slicing and on-demand resources. At WWDC, the company spoke about these in the context of iOS, the operating system that powers iPads and iPhones.

What do these have to do with the new Apple TV, given that WWDC took place in June and the Apple TV was just revealed and isn't yet out? App Thinning, slicing and on-demand resources lie at the core of Apple TV apps and the device's storage management.

Apple began with the belief that the way everything works now is grossly inefficient.

Historically, developers who created their apps in Xcode, Apple's Mac software for creating apps, wrote the code, gathered the assets, tested it and compiled the app when it was ready to be released. Compiling simply means that Xcode corralled the executable code plus associated assets like artwork and sounds and combined them all into a single file, or bundle. Developers uploaded that bundle to Apple for testing and approval. After Apple approved the app, the company set it live in the App Store.

The new Apple TV

iPad and iPhone users with devices of all sizes — both in terms of physical space and local storage — then downloaded the compiled app from the App Store. The app users downloaded was, in fact, the exact same Apple-approved bundle that the developer submitted to Apple. The bundle originated on the developer's hardware and traveled through Apple, who distributed it through the App Store — the only place that non-jailbroken iPhones and iPads can get native apps.

Pretty simple: code, test, compile, submit, receive approval, go live in the App Store.

But that simplicity also came with a cost: inefficiency.

iOS apps can run on multiple devices. Think of the various sizes of iPhones and iPads in circulation. Some apps need big icons for the iPhone 6 line. Some need small ones for the iPhone 4 line. Older devices might even need artwork that predates the high-resolution retina displays. And that doesn't even take into consideration iPads.

Because iPhones and iPads share the same operating system, universal apps enabled developers to include assets like artwork customized for every device within a single bundle. If a developer chose to make their app work on iPhones and iPads (and many do), they only needed to compile and upload a single app bundle, and it'd work everywhere. It makes life simpler, at the cost of complexities not readily apparent.

If developers made a universal app that scaled to run on smartphones and tablets, all of the assets for all of the variations lived inside that big, compiled bundle. Downloading a universal app on your iPhone meant that you received assets for all possible variations, including, say, iPad-specific artwork that you didn't need on your iPhone and would never use there. Bloated bundles were the price Apple, developers and iOS users paid for universal apps, as they were originally designed.

But Apple got fed up with inefficiency and implemented a few technologies that it believes will make its ecosystem better.

App thinning and tags: the bitcode revolution

Apple's solution to this inefficiency is broadly referred to as App Thinning. It's designed to trim app fat.

Now, developers don't upload their finished app bundles from Xcode to Apple. Instead, they upload bitcode, which is basically an uncompiled version of an app — not a working version, in other words, but a mess of code and assets that, stitched together, create an app you can run.

Per Apple's guidelines, developers should fill their code with tags, which serve as all-important markers for specific parts of an app. Apple then takes that bitcode and creates versions custom-compiled for your specific phone or tablet hardware. This is possible, in part, because tags carry meaning.

In an asset-rich game, for example, developers can tag certain images as appropriate for an iPhone 6, while tagging others as designed for an iPad 2. Apple receives the bitcode and slices it into versions, app bundles appropriate for various devices — one for the iPhone 5S, one for the iPad Air 2, one for the iPad mini and so on. The app arrives on your device full of the things you need and lacking the things you don't.

Also pretty simple: code, tag, test, upload bitcode, receive approval, go live in the App Store, with apps that Apple compiled.

The benefits of slicing

Apple calls the process of breaking an app into device-optimized versions "slicing," as in, it slices bitcode into app bundles for different devices.

If it's invisible to the user, why is Apple doing it? In part to save space. During a WWDC session explaining app slicing, Apple used an app called DemoBots to show its potential.

The original app was 77 MB, whether you were downloading it on an iPhone 4S or an iPad Air 2. By parsing and slicing DemoBots' bitcode, Apple created 19 variants of the app, each appropriate for a different device. Doing so shrunk DemoBots from a 77 MB file everyone needed to download to a series of device-specific bundles that averaged about 22 MB each.

Thus, by using App Thinning and slicing, Apple provides a clear efficiency benefit, as measured by a given app's required footprint.

But that's not the whole story. There's one more technology that Apple is using to make things even more efficient, and it's all about the cloud.

App Thinning, on-demand resources and Apple taking control

The easiest way to explain App Thinning and slicing in practice is with a game.

Like all apps, games are some combination of executable code and resources like artwork. Gmail and Infinity Blade 3 are both iOS apps, but their app bundles differ significantly. Games are, by their nature, multimedia-rich. Gmail, on the other hand, is mostly a web view of content that lives on Google's servers. In a game's app bundle, the weight distribution between executable code and resources is much more likely to tip in favor of the latter. At least in terms of storage space, games have more images and movies and sound than executable code.

Imagine an iOS game called Barbie: War. It has 10 levels. This imaginary app works like most games, where you can't get to level 10 without completing the nine levels that precede it. Because of App Thinning, you can download only the code and resources you need for your device.

Apple can't know how much of the game any downloader will play. But it does know that even the players who will eventually make it to level 10 and defeat the treacherous Dark Lord of the Horses do not need access to the final level when they first launch Barbie: War. And if they don't need it now, then why make them download it right now?

What if there were a way to give downloaders what they need only when they need it? Well, there is, and it's called on-demand resources. Because the files that make up apps are tagged from their inception, it's possible to correlate tags with levels and slice games into bite-sized chunks.

In our example, Barbie: War's initial download consists of assets like the executable code, splash screen artwork and the first three levels. As you play through the game and approach level four, the app begins to download the resources it knows you'll need, like audio files and images that are specific to levels four and five — the levels you'll soon be playing.

Thus, the thinking goes, Apple and developers can further increase efficiency not only by slicing apps into their device-appropriate components, but by giving app users only the parts of the apps they need when they need them — or even before they need them, through prediction — and enabling sliced apps to download additional resources at will from the 20 GB of storage space that Apple provides in iCloud.

Consider the potential difference between the way it used to work and the way it will work.

Before app slicing, Apple treated apps as all-or-nothing bundles. That meant that you couldn't start playing Barbie: War until the multi-gigabyte file that included levels one to 10 (and all of the resources created for other devices, resources you didn't need and would never use) finished downloading. But with a combination of App Thinning, slicing and on-demand resources, users can get the essential components of a game — things like the executable code, the splash screen that loads when you launch the app, the title screen artwork — in the initial download and reserve downloading for, say, levels eight to 10 until players approach them by completing the prerequisite levels. Levels four to 10 live in the cloud, tagged, and Barbie: War's developers can say when the game should start downloading the assets tagged for specific levels.

This is possible because Apple provides developers with cloud-based storage accessible at any time — or on demand.

Where tvOS apps live

Because of Apple's technology, apps can live in four places:

To further increase efficiency, on-demand resources do not become part of an app's core bundle, the initial app download. Instead, they live in a separate space in a device's internal storage. One benefit to that approach is that always-available, on-demand resources won't get backed up to iCloud, and therefore won't count against your total cloud storage.

The other side of efficiency

App Thinning and its associated technologies aren't just about putting things onto your devices. There's another aspect of this efficiency equation that isn't about adding but removing content: Apple reserves the right to reclaim space on its devices, and on-demand resources are ripe for the picking.

Apple will purge on-demand resources to free up space, under the assumption that they will always remain available to download again.

By the time you get to Barbie: War level seven, tagging and on-demand resources even allow Apple's software to begin deleting previously downloaded data. Assuming you won't want to replay level two at that moment, Apple's operating systems could purge that data as it downloads levels eight and nine.

The new Apple TV's Siri remote

This could also be helpful in a scenario where an iPhone user wants to download a new app but is running out of local storage space. The operating system can delete some portion of locally stored on-demand resources. It will attempt to do this intelligently, because iOS will know which apps you use and how often you use them.

The benefit is that Apple will manage your device's storage, transparently, so that you don't have to. And it's easy to see the upside. Anyone who understands a computer's file system knows how many people remain baffled by the concept of nested folders, even in 2015.

A potential downside, however, is that the next time you launch Barbie: War, you may have to download levels from on-demand storage again.

Imagine that several months have passed since Barbie: War's release, and your brief but intense infatuation has subsided. The app sits buried in a folder, gathering digital dust, and Apple's software knows this.

Today, without even thinking about storage space or Barbie: War, you want to download Star Wars: Battle Chess. But you don't have room. Apple's operating system knows this, and it deletes Barbie: War's on-demand resources to make room for Star Wars: Battle Chess.

The same thing could happen as you play through your new game and it requires more on-demand resources. Unbeknownst to you, Apple's software secretly purges the resources of another game you haven't played in months, Imagine: Steelworking, secure in the knowledge that you aren't playing it much these days and that, if you ever decide to again, it can begin downloading the purged resources as soon as you need them.

Apple's solution assumes that its devices are covered in a warm blanket of internet connectivity. This makes sense for the Apple TV, which will live in a home, or iPhones, which have cellular connectivity built in. It makes less sense for devices like the iPod Touch and some iPads, which don't always have internet connections.

It could also present a data cost problem. If an Apple device user's storage space is in a constant state of being nearly full, downloading and re-downloading data could increase data usage and out-of-pocket expenses. But Apple's focus on bite-sized tags, which are relatively small (Apple calls 64 MB the "ideal size" for tags, but allows tags for resources up to 512 MB) and relatively quick to download, could help mitigate that potential problem.

Cranking it up to 11 on Apple TV

On the new Apple TV, Apple is taking these ideas and technologies to their logical conclusions.

It's not just that Apple might purge on-demand resources. Apple explicitly warns that developers shouldn't even assume they're entitled to the minimum amount of storage that their initial app bundle occupies on the device. Apple reserves the right to purge that, too.

This, ultimately, explains Apple's strict rules about Apple TV apps. The company is asserting full control over the available space on the device and will delete an app without warning or notice if need be.

The saving grace, assuming the technology works as intended, is that re-downloading could be nothing more than a momentary inconvenience. For those who cover their Apple TV in a blanket of broadband, downloading 200 MB should be nearly instantaneous.

But nearly isn't the same as instantaneous, and that's bound to cause some frustration.

Just as with its requirement to use the included Siri remote to control all Apple TV games, Apple seems to be solving for the greatest number of use cases. Initial downloads will all be paltry, which means the time between downloading and playing a game should be lightning-fast. And if Apple TV users get used to quickly downloading apps, that might mitigate the pain of re-downloading them, too.

And, under normal circumstances, this shouldn't even be something that Apple TV users confront unless and until they begin running low on internal storage space, at which point tvOS will begin purging data behind the scenes.

That's the technology and the theory behind it. But what about game developers, a group that Apple is actively courting? What do they think of Apple's unique rules?

Apple's iOS devices

Developers react

In our conversations, game developer reactions fell into two categories. Some talked about the potential of the Apple TV's App Store. Others were more focused on creating games within Apple's ruleset.

Rami Ismail of Vlambeer, developer of Ridiculous Fishing and Super Crate Box, doesn't see Apple's rules as particularly burdensome.

"For us the thinning and slicing aren't really relevant issues — our titles are usually way within the 200 MB limit," Ismail tells Polygon. "Even Nuclear Throne, which is an enormous Vlambeer game in terms of weaponry, characters and locations, has not reached 200 MB yet."

"App size will be, and no pun intended, a huge issue for some developers."

Another developer who preferred to remain anonymous, out of concern for damaging their relationship with Apple, looks at it differently.

"The 200 MB app size is also pretty limiting, and dividing up a large game to use 'Apple Slicing (tm)' would most likely not be a trivial effort," the developer says. "I expect it would result in a lot of 'waiting for level download' for the end user. I don't even think slicing would be feasible for most larger AAA games, as the base engine + a single level probably would not fit into 200 MB."

To this developer, Apple's two most controversial decisions — the 200 MB limit and making controllers an optional third-party add-on — are the most worrisome aspects of the new Apple TV.

"If they were to ship with an actual game controller," the developer says, "and were to increase the 200 MB limit, I think we'd be more interested, especially if they were to build a reasonably sized gamer install base. As it stands, I don't think it would be a good fit for us."

Tyrone Rodriguez, the development director and producer at Nicalis, developer of The Binding of Isaac, shares several of the same concerns.

"App size will be, and no pun intended, a huge issue for some developers," Rodriguez tells Polygon. "This means The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth won't meet Apple's requirements without serious reworking. This device is intended for in-home wi-fi/wired Internet, but it's clear that Apple [wants] to reduce the file size so that more apps can fit on the device. It's a bit disingenuous and not ideal for the game developer."

Rodriguez compares Apple's plan to Nintendo's WiiWare experiment, saying that "many games just weren't released on the service due to file size limitations."

"The iOS market is a pretty scary place to make a buck, and I don't really see this changing if the same practices are carried over to the Apple TV."

There are many unknowns about optimizing games for different Apple products, and the onus is on "the developer to figure out what works best," Rodriguez notes.

Thinking about making games for the new Apple TV, another developer who preferred to remain anonymous wonders if the same problems that appear in mobile app stores will transfer to the new device.

"For me it comes down to how curation/pricing works," the developer says. "We're all aware of the current challenges facing indies on the App Store: How do you get noticed, and is it possible to charge more than a $1 for your game? Are we going to get the same problem on the TV?

"The iOS market is a pretty scary place to make a buck, and I don't really see this changing if the same practices are carried over to the Apple TV. It would be more encouraging if I started to see a more console-like curation. Who is the user base going to be, and will they even buy non-casual games? There are a lot of unknowns that just weren't answered, and I'd prefer to be on the sidelines for a little while."

Nicalis' Rodriguez shares several of the same marketplace concerns.

"As an iOS-replacement for the living [room], it seems great, but, like many developers, I'm incredibly concerned about price erosion caused by Apple," Rodriguez tells Polygon. "This concern stems both from premium and 'free' games and the perception and expectation it creates. Most of our recent games average between $10 to $15, and that would probably be a very tough sell on Apple TV."

Where some developers see trouble, Vlambeer's Ismail sees opportunity — or at least reason to think that opportunity will exist.

"Any additional market that can relieve some of the pressure of the pretty saturated markets already in place is a great thing."

"I think my perspective on this isn't too surprising: Any additional market that can relieve some of the pressure of the pretty saturated markets already in place is a great thing," Ismail says. "If the porting proves to be relatively simple, we definitely anticipate releasing our titles for [Apple TV]. After all, with the wide controller support, it should be relatively easy to get pretty much any game going. Ironically, the game we made that seems least likely to hit tvOS is Ridiculous Fishing, because that was really made for iOS devices that tilt with the screen on the device itself."

Apple's relationship, at least with Vlambeer, is also a contributing factor.

"Our experiences with Apple have always been positive, so it's exciting to us that they're moving into a space where our earlier works are playable," Ismail says.

Paul Morse, an independent developer who co-created Risk of Rain, isn't sure that the well-received, retro-styled platformer would be a good fit for the new Apple TV. And his trepidation comes, in part, from his dealing with Ouya, the Android-based set-top box that became a superstar on Kickstarter but a commercial failure that Razer purchased earlier this year.

"As far as porting goes, when the Ouya first came out we were waiting to see if it was going to live past the hype of its massive [Kickstarter], and from the past couple months we can see that didn't happen," Morse tells Polygon. "Apple being a much larger, already existing brand with the potential to have a huge influx of gamers using their [TVs] might be a completely different story.

Darth Vader from Disney Infinity 3.0 Darth Vader from Disney Infinity 3.0

"There is a lot to consider when thinking about ports as far as how much work it will be to get the code base converted over, if we have the manpower to do it ourselves, if we have to hire a third party to do the port for us, initial porting costs, and then optimizing for the new controller / screen sizes and any new features that the port would require to be considered a full port. With all of these costs and timelines figured out compared to the return and increase in potential new fans seeing the game you [think about it] and then decide if it's worth it."

Rodriguez feels similarly.

"I'll keep track of Apple TV, I'm glad there's an updated version because the one I have now is terrible and needs to [be] replaced. As far as game development goes, I'd like to have our games in the hands of as many players as possible, but Apple TV might not be the right fit for what we're doing. Ask me again in a year."

Morse says that Risk of Rain is about 130 MB in all, so it would circumvent the storage limitations entirely.

There are also huge games like Disney Infinity 3.0 headed to Apple TV. On Xbox One, it requires 14.42 GB of free space. On PlayStation 4, 13.2 GB. Its Apple TV version will have to be much more efficient, given Apple's 200 MB limit on initial downloads and total footprint of 2 GB of non-guaranteed storage.

The Apple TV version surely won't have the same graphical fidelity as its relatives on Microsoft's and Sony's more powerful systems, so the developers will be able to economize with assets like image files. Still, it seems like bringing Disney Infinity 3.0 to this new system will require a significant investment to shrink the game, which is launching for Apple TV with its own controller and starter pack. It's not unprecedented, though. Disney Infinity has also been released on iOS and handhelds — though features on those versions have been scaled back when compared to their console cousins.

We contacted Activision to see how games like Guitar Hero Live and Skylanders: SuperChargers will be modified to conform to Apple's rules, but we did not receive a response.

"We think there's huge potential to introduce new types of games that take advantage of the Apple TV's unique input … designed to provide an optimal experience for that specific platform and audience, as well as its other features."

But what about larger games that have found homes on other Apple devices? What about games like Infinity Blade, Chair Entertainment's breakout mobile series, which was among the first to blur the line between console and mobile fidelity?

Do Apple's new rules about slicing and tagging have an effect on Chair's games, which are large, in terms of storage space? The download for the original Infinity Blade is 624 MB, the smallest of the trilogy. Infinity Blade 2 has a 1.13 GB footprint, while Infinity Blade 3 weighs in at 1.93 GB.

Apps not optimized for App Thinning will continue to work on Apple devices, but there is no doubt that Apple is moving aggressively toward its new paradigm. If developers don't update, their products will work only as long as Apple is willing to support the old way of doing things.

"We've already done the work to have the current IB games able to support iOS 9 on their current platforms," Chair's director, Donald Mustard, tells Polygon of the iPad and iPhone versions.

Mustard doesn't have anything to announce about bringing Infinity Blade to the new Apple TV — though he doesn't discount the possibility, either. Instead, he seems more excited about seeing what games other developers would make, built to the platform like Chair did.

"While we have no IB announcements to make at this time, we are excited about and encouraged by Apple's new hardware lineup," Mustard says. "Specific to the new Apple TV, we think there's huge potential to introduce new types of games that take advantage of the Apple TV's unique input (the controller), designed to provide an optimal experience for that specific platform and audience, as well as its other features."

For more on the Apple TV, you can listen to an in-depth discussion in the episode of Polygon Minimap: Worldmap Edition below.