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.
We’ve received the new Apple TV and have posted unboxing photos of Apple’s latest set-top box. We’ve also included a few shots comparing the new Apple TV to its predecessors, the third-generation Apple TV and the now classic original first-generation Apple TV. Look for our full, independent, comprehensive Apple TV review on Monday.
While Apple Music will be available on the new Apple TV early next week, the ability to use Siri to search Apple Music won’t be available until early next year, according to Buzzfeed News. The new set-top box already incorporates Siri voice search commands for finding video content — even across multiple platforms — but it appears that this won’t be enabled for Apple Music out of the box. Considering that Siri can already be used with Apple Music on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, this seems like an odd omission and suggests that Apple’s resources have been stretched thin in getting the new Apple TV ready for release.
Employees have confirmed that Apple Stores will begin selling the new Apple TV on Friday, 9to5Mac reports. Apple Stores are already receiving shipments of the new devices and stores will be reorganized Thursday night to begin promoting sales on Friday. Earlier in the day Best Buy announced it will begin selling the device in its stores on Nov. 4.
Best Buy’s U.S. website is now accepting preorders for the new Apple TV, listing a release date of Nov. 4 for in-store pickup and offering free shipping for those who don’t want to visit a store. Users of Best Buy’s Canadian site are still only seeing the third-generation Apple TV listed for sale. The new device went on sale for both U.S. and Canadian users on Apple’s own website Monday, with the earliest possible arrival date listed as Oct. 30 for those opting for expedited shipping. Apple hasn’t informed customers when the new devices will be available for purchase in Apple Stores.
The new Apple TV went on sale this morning on Apple’s online store, as expected. Orders placed today may arrive as early as Oct. 30 with the fastest shipping selection. The 32GB model costs $149 and the 64GB costs $199. Both versions come with the Siri remote, Lightning cable, and a power cord, but users will still need to buy an HDMI cable separately.
Apple has sent out an email to registered developers announcing that it is begun accepting submissions of third-party apps for the new Apple TV. The email explains that developers will need to build their apps and games using the newest Xcode 7.1 GM, which includes the tvOS SDK, and test them on the tvOS GM seed. This requirement suggests that only developers that have received a new Apple TV as part of the Apple TV Developer Kit will be able to build and submit apps at this point. Apple also notes that it has updated its App Review Guidelines for tvOS. Additional details on building and submitting apps for tvOS can be found on Apple’s tvOS Developer Page.
During a wide-ranging interview with The Wall Street Journal interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said users will be able to pre-order the new Apple TV starting Monday, with the devices set to start shipping later next week. Touting the new device’s ability to search across multiple streaming services and interact with apps, Cook said the company has “developed an infrastructure to fix [a] terrible broken thing that none of us like.” Although Apple hasn’t yet secured all the deals it will need to start its own streaming TV service, Cook said the new Apple TV lays a foundation for changing the TV experience away from “linear viewing,” which has outlived its usefulness. (Cook didn’t mention a similar firm release date for the upcoming iPad Pro.)
CBS CEO Les Moonves is confident that the broadcasting company’s discussions with Apple will lead to a deal, Bloomberg reports, although he’s making no predictions as to when this will ultimately happen. Moonves acknowledged that CBS has had conversations with Apple, “as have the other networks,” and says that he “probably” thinks something will happen, but stated, “I do not know when.” Apple is also not the only player in the game, as CBS has been having similar discussions with companies such as Facebook and Netflix about rights for stream live broadcasts. While Apple had originally hoped to launch a streaming television service as early as this fall, it has delayed into 2016 as a result of discussions with various content providers taking longer than expected.