Apple may be looking in a new direction in efforts to get its television streaming service off the ground. A new report from The Street reveals that the company has been in talks with Hollywood’s creative community since late last year about producing original TV shows that could be offered exclusively to iTunes customers. While Apple has yet to sign any agreements, two people with knowledge of the matter have suggested that Apple is ideally trying to get deals in place for September so it can announce exclusive content with the unveiling of the iPhone 7. The discussions are reportedly being led by Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue, who is effectively the force behind Apple’s entertainment initiatives, with Robert Kondrk, VP of iTunes content, also involved in the talks, according to sources. An Apple spokesperson naturally declined to comment on the matter. It was first reported in September that Apple had interest in creating original programming.
Apple has released a software update to Apple TV with tvOS 9.1.1. The update includes Apple’s Podcasts app for Apple TV, which is placed up top and center once tvOS 9.1.1 has been installed. Other changes within the update likely include minor improvements and bug fixes. While the upcoming tvOS 9.2 update will be a more substantial update, the Podcasts app featured in the 9.2 beta has already made its debut, perhaps earlier than expected. tvOS 9.1.1 is available for download now in Apple TV’s Settings > System > Software Updates.
It’s still very unclear when Apple’s much-discussed TV service will make its debut on Apple TV, and ESPN president John Skipper mentioned the company’s frustrations in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Skipper said ESPN has “had discussions with Apple” about a streaming TV service. When asked if Apple had a “path to being a player in the TV industry,” Skipper was relatively upbeat, saying the company is “creating a significantly advantageous operating system and a great television experience,” but he also noted that Apple has “been frustrated by their ability to construct something which works for them with programmers.”
While Apple has long been working on its own TV subscription service, the company wasn’t able to ready the service for the debut of the fourth-generation Apple TV last year, and it’s unclear at this point just when such a service may debut. Judging by Skipper’s recent comments — and bolstered by past reports and whispers — it doesn’t appear the service will be ready anytime soon. Apple has recently been linked to both the NFL and Time Warner, but it’s unknown how much interest — if any — Apple has in getting involved with either entity as related to its TV service.
Apple has simultaneously released new betas for iOS, Apple TV and Apple Watch — iOS 9.3 beta 1, tvOS 9.2 beta 1, and watchOS 2.2 beta 1 are all now available to developers. The new iOS beta is available from the developer center. A public beta will likely be made available in the near future. Apple’s tvOS 9.2 includes the long-awaited addition of Bluetooth keyboard support to Apple TV, while the new iOS and watchOS betas enable the pairing of multiple Apple Watches to one iPhone.
BBC has launched its iPlayer app for Apple TV in the U.K. According to the BBC, the app features Siri voice search, along with typical playback and search functions. At this point, though, the app doesn’t support subtitles, as Apple doesn’t support the same format used by the BBC. The BBC also notes that it’s working with Apple on making BBC iPlayer shows available via the Apple TV’s search — that may arrive sometime next year.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News discussing the success of the new fourth-generation Apple TV, Apple SVP Eddy Cue revealed that the addition of Apple Remote app support in yesterday’s tvOS update may actually just be a stop-gap measure while the company produces an enhanced Remote app for iOS devices. Cue noted that a new Apple TV remote app is in development that will provide “the full functionality of the Siri Remote on your iPhone,” and he expects Apple to release the new updated app in the first half of 2016.
Apple has released its picks for best apps of 2015. The company picked Periscope (our runner up for App of the Year) as its iPhone App of the Year — calling it a game-changer that “made sharing and watching live videos an instant obsession” — and selected photo editor Enlight and stock-trading app Robinhood as its runners-up. Workflow won Most Innovative app for iPhone, and Instagram’s 3D Touch enhancements won it Best App on iPhone 6s. Lara Croft GO won Best Game of the Year for iPhone for its “beauty and clever design,” with Fallout Shelter and Mr Jump earning runner-up honors. Dark Echo was listed as the Most Innovative iPhone game and “immersive 3D Touch controls” won Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade honors as Best Game on iPhone 6s.
After months of unsuccessful negotiations, Apple has suspended its plans to offer a subscription TV service and is refocusing on being a platform for other media companies through the App Store, Bloomberg reports. During a press conference on Tuesday, CBS CEO Les Moonves said Apple has put its live TV plans “on hold,” and sources with knowledge of the negotiations said Apple’s plan to offer a package of around 14 channels for $30 to $40 a month has stalled over networks’ demands for more money. While Moonves went on to say he’s confident Apple’s TV service “will happen” at some point, the company’s negotiations with TV executives have proven much more difficult than those with music companies, which have been mostly willing to partner with Apple. With cable providers already starting to offer smaller bundles and networks selling their own individual subscriptions through apps available on Apple TV, Apple is facing the prospect of charging more for its service unless it can convince media companies to accept less. Without those agreements in place, Apple is turning to software developers to create new entertainment content in the hopes of setting the latest Apple TV’s App Store apart from similar offerings from Roku, Amazon and Google.
Apple has released tvOS 9.1, the first major update to the company’s new fourth-generation set-top box. While no release notes are yet available, the new update adds support for using Siri voice control with Apple Music, as promised earlier this fall, and the ability to use Apple’s Remote app with the new box, albeit it in a more limited fashion — the Remote app will pair through Home Sharing as with prior-generation Apple TVs, but it is limited to providing touchpad control of the Apple TV user interface and keyboard input into text fields; the ability to browse or navigate content found on prior-generation Apple TVs is not supported in the new model. Even with the tvOS 9.1 update, the new set-top box also still lacks support for external Bluetooth keyboards, although the ability to at least now enter text from an iPhone or iPad keyboard with the Remote app should mitigate this limitation somewhat.
I sent feedback to Amazon via the Amazon Instant Video iOS app about supporting tvOS. They say it’s in development. pic.twitter.com/52fYUgtgNs— Dan Bostonweeks (@danimal) November 28, 2015
According to an Amazon customer service reply, an app for Amazon Instant Video could be landing on Apple TV “within a few weeks.” The unnamed company representative supposedly told Twitter user Dan Bostonweeks that the company’s technical team is currently working on the tvOS app and expressed optimism that it would launch soon, since the company has “already succeeded in developing an app for the iPhone and iPad.” Other users have received similar messages from Amazon about the tvOS app, but this is the first that included even a rough timetable for launch. Amazon’s Instant Video has been the largest noticeable absence on Apple TV for some time, with other services like Netflix and Hulu having long been available. Amazon also banned sales of the new Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast device on its site in an apparent bid to drive users away from those devices.
Disney has launched the subscription-based app DisneyLife for U.K. residents ahead of a planned global roll out, offering unlimited access to movies, shows, music, books, and more for £9.99 a month. The service provides unlimited streaming within the U.K. and downloads that expire after 30 days without an Internet connection. Users running the app on Apple devices with iOS 8 or iOS 9 installed can stream HD content, but videos downloaded for offline viewing aren’t available in HD. While there’s no native Apple TV version of the app, content from the app is supported on Apple TV through AirPlay with one catch: All audio and video is streamed in standard definition.
Apple has released a pair of betas to developers this afternoon — iOS 9.2 beta 4 and Apple TV’s tvOS 9.1 beta 3 are both available now. The new iOS beta includes a number of small changes, including support for AT&T’s NumberSync feature. iOS 9.2 beta 4 is also now available to public testers.
Apple has announced a new series of developer tech talks for those interested in developing apps for the new fourth-generation Apple TV. The new Apple TV Tech Talks series will begin in Toronto on Dec. 7 and then move on to Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, Cupertino, Berlin, London, New York, Tokyo, before finishing up in Sydney on Feb. 3, 2016. Each talk will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with the morning covering tvOS and the capabilities of the new Apple TV for general app and user interface development and the afternoon session providing a deeper dive into graphics, gaming, and media streaming applications. Developers can apply now; the deadline is Nov. 13 at 10:00 a.m. PST. Due to limited capacity, Apple notes that priority is being given to teams who already have apps on the App Store.
On his tour of London this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed the idea that the new iPad Pro is as versatile a product as the company has ever made with features that appeal to a broad range of users. In his interview with The Telegraph, Cook said the new tablet has the screen and speakers to give the average media consumer a much more robust viewing and listening experience, but when paired with the company’s keyboard case the device is powerful enough to replace a user’s notebook or desktop computer and challenge the PC’s dominance in the workplace. “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” Cook said.
When paired with the Apple Pencil, Cook said the device is the first of its kind to give creatives a true alternative to putting pencil to paper for sketching. Addressing criticism that the Apple Pencil is a stylus that users don’t need since their finger can do the same job, Cook told The Independent that the Apple Pencil has won over artists by going far beyond what a stylus can do. “The traditional stylus is fat, it has really bad latency so you’re sketching here and it’s filling the line in somewhere behind. You can’t sketch with something like that, you need something that mimics the look and feel of the pencil itself or you’re not going to replace it,” Cook said. “We’re not trying to replace finger touch, we’re complementing it with the Pencil.”
Apple has released its first software update for the fourth-generation Apple TV, tvOS 9.0.1. The update can be manually downloaded in Settings>System>Software Updates. No release notes have been made available, but the update is indeed tvOS 9.0.1, as confirmed after installation. It’s unclear at this point what’s been addressed in the update, but it’s likely a typical mix of performance updates and bug fixes, without any major additions or changes. We’ll update if anything particularly noteworthy is found.
Apple has added Categories to the App Store for the new Apple TV, as the company continues to slowly improve the set-top box’s application catalog and add more app discovery features. Earlier this week, the App Store also gained support for Top Charts, although both features appear to remain limited to the U.S. App Store at this time.
Fun fact: HeadBoard, the tvOS UI, has pretty complete folder support inside. Looks like it would work like iOS - drop an app on another app— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) November 5, 2015
Developer Steve Troughton-Smith has been poking around the tvOS code and discovered that tvOS actually has “pretty complete folder support” that appears to work the same way as on iOS, suggesting that the feature may be coming soon to a future version of tvOS, although it’s unclear as to why Apple has chosen not to implement folders at this time.
Apple has been training Siri voice recognition on the Apple TV to recognize movie and TV show titles in country-specific pronunciations, according to a new report from MacPrime (translated link). While Siri is available in more than 30 countries on the iPhone, on the Apple TV it remains limited to eight — Australia, Canada, Great Britain, United States, Germany, France, Spain, and Japan — and is notably not available even in other countries where the same languages are used, such as Switzerland. Asked why Siri support on the Apple TV was not available in Switzerland, where residents speak German and/or French, Apple responded by explaining that Siri on the Apple TV was designed to “put a special focus on television and film content,” specifically ensuring that it could quickly and accurately recognize film titles and names of actors, directors, producers, and so forth. To achieve this goal, Apple undertook efforts to teach Siri to recognize specific dialect and phonetic pronunciations for each country. This likely also explains why it has taken longer for Siri support for other features such as Apple Music to arrive on the Apple TV. The report notes that Apple is working on expanding Siri support to other countries, although the company has not given a firm date as to when this will happen. [via 9to5Mac]
Now that the new fourth-generation Apple TV has been released to the public, Apple has begun its first developer beta cycle for its new tvOS operating system, releasing the first beta of tvOS 9.1 to developers today. With a build number of 13U5061d, the release notes identify a focus primarily on UI and networking issues, as well as fixes for developers testing Apple TV apps in the simulator. As with iOS developer betas, the beta versions of tvOS are intended for installation only on devices that have been registered with the Apple Developer Program; it is unclear whether Apple will be running a public beta of tvOS at this point as it has with iOS and OS X betas.
Plex has released its very popular media streaming client for the new Apple TV, providing users of the new set-top box with the ability to legitimately access and stream their content from their Plex media server to their television. Although Plex has been available on other media streaming platforms for several years, the lack of an App Store for the Apple TV has forced many users to either AirPlay content from the Plex iOS app or resort to out-of-the-box hacking methods to present Plex content by taking over an existing Apple TV channel. The Plex app is free in the App Store and requires that users update to the latest Plex media server software on their NAS device or computer. Additional details can be found on the Plex blog.
In addition, Apple has added top charts categories to the Apple TV App Store, including “Top Paid”, “Top Free”, and “Top Grossing” apps. The Top Charts can be found on the top menu bar between Featured and Purchased. Top Charts appear to only be available in the U.S. App Store at this time; it’s unclear when they will be appearing in other countries.
Apple has told BuzzFeed News that support for Amazon Prime Video on the Apple TV is solely up to Amazon, claiming that “all are welcome” on the new Apple TV platform, suggesting that Apple hasn’t done anything to discourage Amazon from releasing its own Prime app for the new set-top box in the same manner as any of the other third-party streaming apps now available. Reports earlier this month indicated that Amazon would be banning the sale of the Apple TV from its online store, and this continues to be the company’s policy despite the new Apple TV providing support for a potential third-party Prime app. Amazon has reportedly not submitted an app for the new Apple TV, and a spokesperson for the company told BuzzFeed that they don’t “have anything to share” on the topic, suggesting that Amazon will likely remain the one major holdout on Apple’s new and more open media platform.