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Apple releases fifth betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1

Apple has just posted a fifth set of developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, again only a week after the fourth round of betas went out. Unsurprisingly, the release notes at this point list only extremely minor changes since the last beta, and it remains unclear whether iOS 11.4 and tvOS 11.4 will in fact incorporate AirPlay 2, which also made a brief appearance in the iOS 11.3 betas earlier this year before being removed before the final release, a fate similar to that of Messages in iCloud, which is still listed in the release notes as being included “for testing and evaluation purposes.”

Carpool Karaoke Season 1 now free in Apple’s TV app

Apple has now made the first season of its “Carpool Karaoke” show available for free streaming through the TV app. First reported by Billboard, the series went live on Friday night at 6 p.m. ET, with the report noting that episdoes will “trickle” into the app with new episodes appearing every Friday at the same time. Carpool Karaoke originally debuted last August as an exclusive for Apple Music subscribers, however it appears now that Apple has renewed it for a second season, the company has decided to make the first season episodes available to all Apple TV and iOS users.

Apple may be adding Video Subscriptions to its TV app

Apple has plans to begin selling subscriptions to video services directly through its TV app, according to a report by Bloomberg, likely consolidating subscriptions previously available through individual iOS and tvOS apps. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report suggests that the aim is to both simplify the subscription process as well as make the TV app a more prominent one-stop hub for all video content.

Apple releases fourth developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1

Less than a week after Apple released the third betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, the company is back with its fourth round of developer betas. As expected, the release notes list only very minor changes, and although Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 support remain in place in iOS 11.4 beta 4, it’s unclear whether these will still make it into the final release. At this point, AirPlay 2 is only available with Apple TV devices running the tvOS 11.4 beta, although the HomePod will presumably get a similar 11.4 update by the final release — Apple is not making beta software available for the HomePod at this point.

Apple releases third developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1

Apple has released a third round of developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1. The release notes reveal only minor changes and fixes compared to the prior betas. iOS 11.4 brings back Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 support — at least in the betas — but it remains unclear whether these features are planned to actually be included in the final release of iOS 11.4 or are once again being included solely for testing purposes; the release notes still state that Messages in iCloud is included “for testing and evaluation purposes.”

Apple releases first tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1 betas

Alongside the first iOS 11.4 developer beta, Apple has also released new betas for tvOS 11.4 and watchOS 4.3.1. Both versions appear to be relatively minor updates focused on bug fixes, with very sparse release notes listing no new features, and in the case of watchOS 4.3.1 not even any known issues.

Nuvyyo releasing Tablo Dual Lite Over-the-Air Television DVR

The Tablo Dual 64GB Over-the-Air Television DVR released by Nuvyyo last year allows for recording live TV without a cable connection, but apparently users complained to the company about the $250 cost and were willing to deliver their own storage solutions. Nuvyyo has responded by introducing the Tablo Dual Lite, a $140 option that provides all of the TV streaming and one-touch series recording features of the Tablo Dual at a lower price. The new device will be available starting April 1 on Best Buy’s website and at some of the company’s other retailers. Digital services like metadata for programs airing over the next two weeks, access to advanced DVR features like one-touch series recording and out-of-home streaming through the Tablo Connect require a separate subscription, and as with all Tablo products, you’ll need an antenna to pick up the local over-the-air signal in the first place.

Apple releases fifth iOS 11.3, tvOS 11.3 betas to registered developers

Only a week after the fourth betas appeared, Apple has released a fifth set of betas of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 to registered developers. The more rapid release schedule suggests that Apple is likely getting very close to a release date for iOS 11.3, which is expected to be available by the end of this month, and will add several useful new features, along with the battery health feature. As would be expected this late in the cycle, the latest betas of both iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 consist mostly of bug fixes and refinements, and there’s still no sign of the return of AirPlay 2 support of the iBooks redesign that were hinted at in early betas before being subsequently removed, suggesting that these features have been pushed off to a future release, possibly iOS 12 later this year.

Apple releases fourth watchOS 4.3 developer beta, new public betas of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3

Apple has released a fourth watchOS 4.3 beta along with new public betas for iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, matching the fourth developer betas released earlier this week. Featuring a build number of 15T5199f,  the sparse release notes don’t suggest any significant changes since the prior beta. watchOS 4.3 is expected to bring iPhone music control back to the Apple Watch and allow Nightstand mode to work in portrait orientation. The latest beta also appears to resolve issues with weather information in Greater China and accuracy in the battery complication.

Apple facing growing calls to dump NRA TV after school shooting

Apple is one of many companies taking heat for allowing NRA TV to be broadcast on its platforms, The Huffington Post reports. A growing number of companies have severed ties with the gun lobbying group, but the NRA TV app is still available on the Apple TV App Store. Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, has created a website aimed at pressuring streaming platforms to ditch the channel, which she calls a media arm of the gun lobby that “propagates dangerous misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric that pits Americans against each other and furthers their agenda of guns anywhere, for anyone, no questions asked.” Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the demand, but in the past Apple has shown some willingness to engage in the gun debate, cracking down on gun violence imagery in the App Store in 2015 and replacing its pistol emoji with a watergun in the iOS 10 update.

Apple to end iTunes Store access for first-gen Apple TVs, PCs running Windows XP and Vista in May

According to a new support document, Apple plans to cut off access to the iTunes Store for first generation Apple TVs and PCs running Windows XP and Vista on May 25. Apple is blaming the move on “security changes” that won’t be supported on the older devices. Older versions of iTunes already installed on XP and Vista machines will continue to function, but won’t be supported by Apple. To download new content from the iTunes Store (or to redownload previous purchases), PC users will need Windows 7 or later. It’s worth keeping in mind that Microsoft officially ended support for Windows Vista last spring, and Apple declared the first-generation Apple TV as “obsolete” over two years ago, so the move is not entirely surprising. For now, at least, second-generation Apple TV users appear to be unaffected, despite the fact that Apple also officially ended support for that model almost a year ago.

New Apple TV trademark filing may indicate stronger gaming focus

A new trademark filing discovered by Patently Apple suggests that Apple may have plans for a stronger push into next-generation gaming technology for its set-top box. According to the report, Apple has updated its logo trademark for the Apple TV to expand its scope into all things related to gaming; Apple’s Trademark filing 87801324 was filed solely under class 028, which specifically covers “video game consoles; controllers for game consoles; video output games, namely, video output game machines for use with televisions; apparatus for electronic games adapted for use with an external display screen or monitor.”

Apple releases third watchOS 4.3 developer beta, new public betas of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3

Apple has released a third watchOS 4.3 beta along with new public betas for iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, matching the third developer betas released yesterday. While the release notes are sparse, it appears from the betas that watchOS 4.3 will be bringing iPhone music control back to the Apple Watch and allow Nightstand mode to work in portrait orientation. The latest beta also appears to resolve issues with weather information in Greater China and accuracy in the battery complication.

Apple releases iOS 11.2.6 with Telugu character fix, watchOS 4.2.3 and tvOS 11.2.6

Apple has released iOS 11.2.6 with an update that fixes issues with third-party apps connecting to external accessories and a bug causing the Indian Tegulu character to crash Messages and other apps. Apple had fixed the special character bug in the iOS 11.3 beta, but seems to have pushed out the fix early to keep users from having to wait for the next big release. A macOS 10.13.3 update fixes the Tegulu problem for Mac users, and Apple also released tvOS 11.2.6 for Apple TV and watchOS 4.2.3 for Apple Watch.

YouTube for Apple TV gets a major facelift

Google has released significant update to YouTube for Apple TV, overhauling the user interface with an entirely new design that’s more resemblant of the user interface found in the YouTube apps on other platforms, and a departure from the more traditional Apple TV UI layout that YouTube had been following since the days before the tvOS App Store was unveiled two years ago.

Apple releases second watchOS 4.3 developer beta alongside new public iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 betas

Apple has released a second watchOS 4.3 beta along with new public betas for iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, matching the second developer betas released yesterday. While the release notes are sparse, it appears from the betas that watchOS 4.3 will be bringing iPhone music control back to the Apple Watch and allow Nightstand mode to work in portrait orientation.

ESPN to launch $4.99/month standalone streaming service

Disney is set to launch its first direct-to-consumer streaming service in the form of ESPN Plus, providing access to over 10,000 live regional, national, and international games and events a year from all of the usual leagues such as MLB, NHL, and MLS. Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger told CNBC that the service will also “include an array of live programming that is not available on current channels” and that it will roll out in the spring alongside a redesign of Disney’s ESPN app. The new service will be priced at $4.99/month and will be available for both iOS and the Apple TV when it launches. [via Engadget]

Apple now selling refurbished iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple TV 4K units

Apple has now begun selling refurbishing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and Apple TV 4K models on its U.S. online store for the first time, offering customers a chance to pick up these units at about a 10 percent discount as compared to the prices of brand new models.

Apple loses bid to HBO for new J.J. Abrams show

HBO has beat out Apple in a bid to produce J.J. Abrams latest sci-fi drama project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. HBO got the nod for a straight-to-series order for the new sci-fi thriller, which will be called “Demimonde,” with sources suggesting that Abrams made the call as a result of his impression with what the premium cable network did with “Westworld.” While the move may indicate that despite Apple’s strong original content ambitions and deep pockets, its status as a Hollywood newcomer may hamper its efforts in signing major productions, it’s also worth noting that Apple has already successfully picked up an original sci-fi show from Ronald D. Moore of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Outlander” fame. Sources also suggested to The Hollywood Reporter that Apple’s bid made may never have been under serious consideration in the first place.

YouTube TV now available on Apple TV

Google has announced that its live TV service, YouTube TV, is now available for Apple TV users in the U.S.  For a base $35 monthly cost, the service provides subscribers with more than 40 live channels from major networks such as CBS, Fox, NBC, and CBS, as well as sports networks such as ESPN and Fox Sports. The service also includes unlimited cloud DVR storage.

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