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.
Speaking during the company’s third quarter earnings call, CBS CEO Les Moonves said that the company turned down a TV offer from Apple. GigaOM reports that Moonves claimed CBS had decided against the offer, which was for an Apple TV service, because it was based on an ad split. Apple had previously been rumored to be working on such a service, although it obviously never came to fruition. According to the report, CBS’ decision on the matter was more philosophical than it was an indictment against Apple, as the company has repeatedly eschewed revenue-sharing agreements in favor of negotiating up-front licensing fees for syndication of its content online.
Apple seeded developers with iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 late last evening, and also added iTunes Match to the second-generation Apple TV under the new main menu option “Music.” According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all subscribers to the iTunes Match beta. Apple had promised to launch iTunes Match by the end of October, but missed its self-imposed deadline earlier this week, and is evident by these new releases, is continuing to test the service ahead of its anticipated wide-scale rollout. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 is available now as a free download from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple plans to use Siri as the primary interface of an upcoming HDTV set, according to a new report. Citing various sources, the New York Times reports that such integration would allow Apple’s TV to bypass the traditional remote control, allowing users to request specific programming—be it on traditional cable or Internet-based content sources such as iTunes, Netflix, or YouTube—and allow the TV set to find it for them, without the need for navigating through channels or directories of content. “Absolutely, it is a guaranteed product for Apple,” one of the sources told the NYT. “Steve thinks the industry is totally broken.” According to the report, which claims Apple still has “quite a bit of work to do” on the project, and may also need to wait on large display prices fall, Apple could announce the product as early as late next year, with an official release coming in 2013.
Jeff Robbin, vice president of consumer applications at Apple and veteran of both the iTunes and iPod teams, is heading the company’s HDTV efforts, according to a new report. Citing three people with knowledge of the project, Bloomberg reports that although it it’s not guaranteed that Apple will release a television, if released, it would likely allow users to seamlessly search for a show or movie, integrating various sources such as Netflix, iTunes, and potentially even cable or satellite, removing the need to check separately for content across multiple sources. Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted to create an “integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” and that it “would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.” ‘“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said. “I finally cracked it.” Robbin was a developer of SoundJam, the program which Apple purchased and subsequently hired him to turn in to iTunes. Apart from his work on the iTunes team, Robbin was also heavily involved in the development of the iPod.
Apple has released Apple TV software 4.4.2, its latest update to the set-top box. Arriving on the heels of last week’s 4.4.1 update, which reportedly “bricked” some units and was pulled for some time, Apple has yet to detail what upgrades or enhancements 4.4.2 might bring with it, but does note in a Support document that Apple TV devices running software version 4.4 and 4.4.1 have an issue with updating software to later versions. According to the document, users may need to go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings before upgrading to 4.4.2, and notes that if you apply the update without resetting all settings first, the updater will do so for you. Once it has been reset, the unit can then be updated via the Update Software option in Settings. “We recognize that this is an inconvenience and apologize,” reads a statement at the end of the page. Apple TV software 4.4.2 is available now.
Apple released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.1 for its second-generation set-top box less than one week after the release of 4.4, only to pull the update—at least on a temporary basis—shortly thereafter. According to Apple’s release notes, the 4.4.1 update “addresses an issue that required a small number of Apple TV units to be connected to iTunes in order to complete the update.” Shortly following the update’s release, some users reported that the 4.4.1 update “bricked” their units, requiring connection to iTunes for a restore, according to Mac Rumors. The update has since been pulled, at least on a temporary basis.
Today’s software update for the Apple TV brought with it two surprising new features: support for NHL and WSJ content. In the release notes, Apple touts the new National Hockey League feature, which offers live games, highlights, scores, and more, as well as Wall Street Journal Live, which offers on-demand streaming of video content from the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the update also brings with it a new interface for movie trailers, which is highly similar to the prior interface for movies. The latest Apple TV Software Update—listed as software version 4.4 (3140) and iOS version 5.0 (9a334v)—is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s general settings menu.