During this morning’s special media event, Apple announced its third-generation Apple TV. While retaining the design of the prior model, the new Apple TV offers support for 1080p video output, and also offers a redesigned user interface with larger, app-like buttons for accessing content, and a single-core variant of the A5 processor. As part of the new 1080p support, Apple is updating its TV show and movie offerings with higher-resolution copies, and is also rolling out iTunes in the Cloud support for movies, giving the new Apple TV access to 1080p content stored online, instead of on a local computer. The third-generation Apple TV also retains the $99 price point of its predecessor, and is available for pre-order today with units shipping March 16.
Apple is in negotiations with content providers to launch a streaming TV service by Christmas, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, the New York Post reports that Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has been leading the negotiations, which have reportedly not been going well. “They want everything for nothing,” one media executive said, while another source said Apple’s stance can be summed up as “we decide the price, we decide what content”. Apple is said to be pitching the idea of offering channels as apps for its devices, including the Apple TV set-top box, although whether the company would be selling the service in a bundle or on an a la carte basis is unknown.
The company is also said to have made attempts to negotiate with cable operators to replace traditional set-top boxes with Apple units. “They want to create the interface, and they wanted to work with the cable guys to manage bandwidth across the TV and broadband pipeline,” said one Post source. Although Apple has had little success thus far in its negotiations, the company is said to have continued on, and is negotiations with Verizon and AT&T, seeking to gain traction.
Apple has repeatedly pushed back shipments of second-generation Apple TV, suggesting that the company soon plans to refresh the set-top box. Citing people familiar with the matter, AppleInsider reports that for three consecutive weeks, Apple has failed to restock indirect channel partners with fresh inventory of the device. The company has instead pushed back the deliveries each week by one additional week, a practice that is said to portend a formal discontinuation ahead of a new model. Earlier this month, a report noted that a number of major retailers were either out of stock of the device or had ceased sales altogether; Apple last updated the Apple TV in late 2010.
Citing code found in a beta version of iOS 5.1, a new report claims that Apple is simultaneously developing its next-generation A6 processor, as well as an “A5X” variant of the A5 processor that currently powers the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. 9to5Mac reports that the code makes reference to both an “S5L8950X” chip—said to be the A6—and an “S5L8945X” chip, which is said to be the A5X. For reference, the original A4 was referred to as “S5L8930X”, and the A5 “S5L8940X”. A later report from the same outlet suggests that the A5X will find its way into the next-generation Apple TV, while the A6 will power the next-generation iPad.
Apple this morning announced OS X Mountain Lion, the next release of its desktop operating system for its Mac computers. Among the new features debuted by Apple this morning—many of which were based on existing iOS apps, including Notes, Reminders, and Game Center—is AirPlay Mirroring. As the name suggests, the feature will allow users to mirror their Mac’s screen on a HDTV using an Apple TV, making it easy for users to share web pages, videos, lessons, and presentations with others. In addition, the company announced a beta version of Messages for OS X. This iChat replacement mimics the Messages app on iOS, allowing users to send iMessages across both iOS and Mac devices. The app also integrates support for AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts, as well as FaceTime, removing the need for a separate, standalone app. The beta version of Messages is available now as a free download for users of OS X Lion 10.7.3 or later; OS X Mountain Lion is currently available in preview form to registered Mac developers and is slated to ship in late summer.
Mac developer David Stanfill has released AirParrot, a new OS X application that allows users to stream their Mac display to their Apple TV over AirPlay. The application allows users to stream any connected display to the Apple TV in real-time, and offers underscan and video quality adjustments, as well as an option to show or hide the mouse cursor; audio streaming is not currently supported. AirParrot requires OS X 10.6 or later and sells for $10. [via TUAW]
Apple CEO Tim Cook made several comments relating to the Apple TV during a speaking engagement at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, suggesting the company sees a larger market opportunity than is being taken advantage of by the current device. Referring to the company’s past strategies, Cook said that Apple typically doesn’t do hobby projects, but suggested that it created Apple TV because it believed that there was something there, and that exploring the potential of a living room product would be useful. The result has been an increasingly popular device that he recommended people should go out and buy right now. However, Cook noted that if Apple “kept on pulling the string”, it would eventually get from the small hobby business of Apple TV to a bigger market opportunity. This strongly suggests that the company is preparing to transition from its current “hobby” business to one it sees as more important—a larger opportunity than a tethered media streaming device.
Apple has been sued by a small Swiss-based company over wireless interaction between the iPhone and the Apple TV. According to an AppleInsider report, a company named SmartData filed suit against Apple in the Northern District Court of California, alleging that Apple infringed on a patent related to “wireless computing technology” called Zukero. The report claims that SmartData’s patent for a “modular computer” describes a wireless system consisting of a “pocket sized” unit to store data and run programs, a second data input device with wireless connectivity that serves as an interface, and a third element that is a television screen.
Specifically, the suit claims infringement when the iPhone and Apple TV are used together via Apple’s Remote app; it also says that Apple willfully infringed on the patent, as SmartData contacted Apple regarding the patent in July 2004, and reportedly negotiated a potential licensing agreement until mid-2006, at which point Apple allegedly ceased communication with the company. SmartData is seeking damages, a permanent ban on the infringing products, and a trial; the company does not make any devices itself, and is currently shopping around its Zukero patent, according to the report.
A number of major retailers are out of stock of the second-generation Apple TV, suggesting that the set-top box may soon be replaced by a new model. Citing a Best Buy source, 9to5Mac reports that the retailer is out of stock at the source’s store, and will not be receiving any more units as Apple TVs are no longer shipping to the stores. Further checks of Best Buy’s online store, as well as those of Amazon, Target, and Buy.com all showed the device as being either out-of-stock, unavailable, or, in the case of Amazon, listed with a claim of “usually ships in 2-5 weeks”. During Amazon’s time window, Apple is expected to hold a special media event for its next-generation iPad—and at which it could easily announce a new Apple TV. The device is still available from Apple-focused retailers MacMall and MacConnection, and is also available directly from Apple.
Apple has quietly added new menu options for accessing Genius recommendations for movies and TV shows to the second-generation Apple TV. Mac Rumors reports that early reports noting the change claimed that the menu option was displayed with the name “ATV.Menu.MOVIE.GeniusItem”, suggesting that the option’s appearance may have been premature; however, the issues seems to have been fixed. Genius recommendations for movies and TV shows have been available for sometime in iTunes on the Mac and PC—via the iTunes Sidebar—as well as on all other iOS devices, but are new to the Apple TV.
Apple plans to launch an OLED-based HDTV set as soon as April or May, according to a new report. Citing a high-ranking source with a major electronics retailer, TechnoBuffalo reports that the source has seen pre-production versions of the device, which is described as “gorgeous” and “very thin” and will come in sizes up to 42 inches diagonally. The report goes on to claim that the set will use a Siri-like voice command system in lieu of a typical remote, with the option to use an iOS device as a remote, instead. In addition, the set is said to use facial recognition software to automatically turn itself off if no one is in the room for a set period of time—a feature already found on some competing sets—and automatically wake itself when someone reenters the viewing area.
Apple is also said to be exploring the idea of using the TV to control other appliances in the home, including ovens and garage doors, although the report claims that the source provided no details as to whether Apple make such devices themselves; it is instead suggested that Apple might create a Made For iPod-like program to certify such products from third-party manufacturers. Finally, the report claims that the TV has been delayed in getting to market as the company has been focused on making the first-generation product as feature-complete as possible, as it will have fierce competition not only from established brands but from larger—and often times cheaper—sets. While it seems likely at this point that Apple will launch its own TV set, the timeframe as laid out in the report strikes us as being a little early; if Apple were shooting for such an early launch, reports of early manufacturing tests would quite possibly already have started to appear. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise if an Apple-branded TV was debuted mid-year at WWDC, possibly later.
The Daily Mail reports that Apple may be bidding for the rights to stream English Premier League football matches. The English Premier League is the top football league in the U.K. and is one of the most popular football leagues worldwide, managing competition rules and centralized broadcasting and commercial rights for its 20 member football clubs. Apple has previously provided premium content streaming for MLB, NBA and NHL for Apple TV users in the U.S. and Canada, integrating these services directly into the Apple TV as part of recent software updates and simply tying into the providers’ existing subscription services. Unlike the other sports organizations, however, EPL does not currently provide its own iOS streaming application or online subscription service, causing some speculation that Apple may offer EPL streaming as part of an iTunes-based subscription service. [via Mac Rumors]
A new proof-of-concept video has demonstrated the second-generation Apple TV’s ability to run iPad applications full-screen on an external display. According to 9to5Mac, the hack was achieved by jailbreaking the device, and completely rewriting the springboard, or app launcher, allowing for display of apps at full 720p resolution. As the device lacks any touch input methods, developers Steven Troughton-Smith and TheMudKip use a combination of VNC, SSH, and the Apple TV remote to control the device. It remains to be seen whether Apple will ever allow an App Store-style app experience on the Apple TV, however, the advent of AirPlay mirroring and streaming does offer a somewhat similar experience to those users who own both an Apple TV and a capable iOS device. The video is available for viewing in embedded form below.
Apple is planning to launch its rumored TV set in 32- and 37-inch sizes, according to a new report. Citing industry sources, DigiTimes reports that Apple’s upcoming sets will be full televisions, unlike the company’s current Apple TV set-top box, and will be focused on 32- and 37-inch models. In addition, the report, citing “media reports” in Korea, also claims that Samsung started producing chips for the device last month. The report goes on to speculate that the sets will launch in the second or third quarter of 2012 and may be accompanied by a next-generation update to the current Apple TV set-top box. An Apple-branded TV set has been rumored for some time; however, reports of the company’s plans in the place have increased substantially since the debut of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, in which Apple’s late co-founder and former CEO states that the company had finally “cracked” the TV.
Apple is now offering free next-day shipping on many online orders in the United States. According to Apple’s holiday shipping page, non-engraved iPads and iPods, the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, non-customized and popular iMac configurations, and the Apple TV can all be ordered today for arrival by December 24, thanks to the free next day shipping offer. For all other products, customers are advised to check their cart for expected delivery dates.
Apple executives have recently discussed their vision for the future of TV with media executives at several large companies, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the executives, including Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, outlined new ways Apple could recognize users across various devices, and described potential TV technology that would respond to users’ voices and movements. The report reiterates prior rumors that Apple is working on a TV set that relies on wireless streaming technology to access content, which would use a version of AirPlay to integrate with iPhones and iPads, and might leverage an iCloud-based DVR service which would allow users to watch shows they have saved across different devices. According to the report, Apple’s talks with the media companies have thus far been “vague”, with no proposals made in regards to licensing.
A silent, server-side update to the Apple TV has added on-device TV show purchasing to the set-top box in several countries. Engadget reports that Apple TV users in Canada, Australia, and the U.K. are now able to purchase TV shows on the device, and stream any past TV show purchases directly from iCloud to the Apple TV. The same functionality was rolled out to Apple TV units in the U.S. earlier this year.
Update: The TV Shows menu has since disappeared on Apple TV units set to access the Canadian, Australian, and U.K. stores; it is unclear whether this morning’s appearance was a planned rollout that has been pulled due to a technical issue, a premature launch, or something else entirely.
Update x2, December 16: Apple officially rolled out the feature last night to various international locales.
Apple today released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Support page with details on 4.4.4, so it remains unclear what—if any—improvements or changes the update offers. Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4 is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.
Update: According to Apple, the update “includes general performance and stability improvements, including a fix for an issue that displayed an error when playing some video content.”
Code referencing next-generation versions of the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV has been found in the iOS 5.1 beta released to developers last night. According to a report from 9to5Mac, iOS 5.1 contains references to an iPhone5,1—the iPhone 4S is listed as iPhone4,1—as well as an iPad 3,3, a full number higher than the iPad 2’s 2,x designation. A separate report indicates that iOS 5.1 also reveals the codename for the next-generation Apple TV, which is said to be J33. While such references do indicate that Apple is working on such hardware, they are not indicative of an impending—or even planned—release.
Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.3, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Support page with details on what the update, listed as build 9A405l, offers, but it is likely a bug fix update, given the incremental point increase of the version number. Apple TV Software Update 4.4.3 is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.
Update: According to Apple’s release notes, the update adds support for Netflix in Mexico, and addresses an issue in which audio may not play through the optical port when the TV is turned off.