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Apple to open Apple TV universal search API to third-party developers

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently confirmed that developers will indeed be granted access to a universal search API set to debut with the fourth-generation Apple TV, meaning third-party apps have the opportunity to get screen time alongside big name services like HBO and Hulu.

In a follow-up to its interview with Cook published in September, Buzzfeed reports the Apple chief as saying universal search on the next-generation Apple TV will support iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO at launch, but current plans are to open the search API to developers in the near future.

"I think that many, many people will want to be in that search," Cook said. "And that's great for users. Think about your experience today. Even if you're fortunate enough to have the content you want to watch in an app, you sometimes don't remember exactly where that show is, so you're going to Netflix or Hulu or Showtime. You shouldn't have to do that. It should be very simple."

Universal search is being touted as a tentpole feature for Apple's upcoming set-top streamer. Users can type in — or in some regions query Siri with the included Siri Remote — search terms to surface content from a variety of sources. Being tied into a powerful search tool could be a boon for third-party developers.

Describing how universal search works, Cook said multiple results will appear if a certain show is offered on more than one service. As Buzzfeed explains, searching for a TV series or particular episode will return a rundown of all apps in which that content is available, based on a user's subscriptions. Users who pay for HBO GO and Netflix will see those two platforms show up if content is available on both.

Apple's fourth-generation Apple TV is set to debut later this month starting at $149 for a model with 32GB of onboard storage, and $199 for a 64GB version.