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DirecTV survey hints at NFL Sunday Ticket on Apple TV

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A recent survey conducted on behalf of DirecTV suggests the company is exploring the possibility of allowing NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers to access programming from their Apple TVs. Alongside traditional and Red Zone Channel-only offerings, an image from the survey, published by Engadget, also touted a potential digital-only Sunday Ticket option, that would allow for viewing games on a tablet, such as the iPad, on a smartphone, such as an iPhone, or on a TV connected to an Internet-connected Blu-ray player, game machine, Apple TV, Boxee Box, or Roku player. The company currently offers separate Sunday Ticket apps for the iPhone + iPod touch and the iPad which allow subscribers to watch games over Wi-Fi or 3G; it is unclear, given the Apple TV’s current lack of apps, whether such an offering would be tied to new app capabilities for the device or if it would appear in the device’s menu system, a la Netflix.

Apple releases Software Update for Apple TV 2G

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Apple has released its latest Software Update for the second-generation Apple TV. According to the device’s About section, the new software is version 4.1.1, as opposed to the prior 4.1; the OS Build Version is listed as 4.2.1 (8c154), while the prior build was version OS Build Version 4.2.1 (8c150). Whatever changes have been made in the new software version are currently unknown, however, the point point (4.x.x) nature of the release suggests that only minor tweaks have been made under the hood.

Update: According to an Apple support document, the update addresses issues with playback of 480p content on high-definition TVs, and with unnecessary re-downloads of movies or TV shows.

Apple TV users report video issues with Sony, Philips TVs

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A number of second-generation Apple TV users are reporting video discoloration issues. According to a lengthy Apple Discussions thread dating back to the beginning of October, the issues appear to be isolated to select models of Sony and Philips TVs, even those which worked fine for months or years when connected to a first-generation Apple TV. Many users suggest the problem lies within the HDMI “handshake” process, and may or may not be related to HDCP copy protection. Based on the most recent comments, the Apple TV 4.1 software update does not fix the problem, even though users have reported that Apple Support is aware of the issue. [via MacStories]

Second-gen Apple TV updated to 4.1

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Apple has released a software update for the second-generation Apple TV bringing the device’s software up to version 4.1. Notably, the update includes support for AirPlay streaming from a device running iOS 4.2 or from a Mac or PC running iTunes 10 to the Apple TV. In addition, it adds support for VoiceOver spoken menus; the feature can be turned on via a setting in the Accessibility menu, and reads both the names of menu items and metadata, including episode descriptions of TV shows. Apple TV software 4.1 is available now via the Update Software menu item in the device’s General settings menu.

Apple’s Jobs confirms AirPlay for Keynote?

In a supposed email exchange with a customer, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has confirmed Apple TV streaming capabilities for the next Mac OS X version of Keynote. The customer’s email, reprinted by TUAW, asked whether the second-generation Apple TV would “accept Keynote presentations via [an] iOS device or a Mac,” and stated that he would “go buy two” if that were the case. In his typically terse fashion, Jobs reportedly replied, “It’s all coming soon. Stay tuned.” Rumors have indicated that an updated version of Keynote for Mac, along with Pages and Numbers, is either nearly finished or ready for release, although no specific release date has yet been announced.

Apple launches iTunes movies, Apple TV in Japan

Apple has announced that movies are now available on the iTunes Store in Japan. According to the release, over 1,000 films are now available to rent or buy in high definition and standard definition from a variety of international film studios including 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, and Japanese studios such as Asmik Ace Entertainment, Fuji TV, Kadakowa Pictures, Nikkatsu, Shochiku Company Limited and Toei Company Limited. Customers have up to 30 days to start watching their movie, and 48 hours to finish it once a movie has been started. iTunes HD movie purchases in Japan start at ¥2,000 for catalog titles and recent releases and ¥2,500 for new releases, while SD versions are priced at ¥1,000 for catalog titles, ¥1,500 for recent releases and ¥2,000 for new releases. iTunes HD Movie Rentals start at ¥300 for library title rentals and ¥500 for new releases, and SD versions start at ¥200 for library title rentals and ¥400 for new releases. In addition to the movie additions, the second-generation Apple TV is now available in Japan, and sells for ¥8,800, or roughly $107.

Beyond Japan, SetteB.IT reports that the iTunes Stores in Austria, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have been updated and are ready for movie sales and rentals, although no official announcement regarding those countries has yet been made.

Jobs confirms iTunes Extras, LP support for Apple TV?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly confirmed upcoming support for the company’s iTunes Extras and iTunes LP formats on the second-generation Apple TV. In an email exchange with a customer reprinted by Mac Rumors, Jobs said that an update is “coming” for the next-generation set-top box that will provide support for both the iTunes Extras and iTunes TV formats. Apple originally added support for iTunes Extras and iTunes LP to the first-generation Apple TV in software version 3.0, but such support was noticeably absent from the second-generation model when it launched in September.

Notes from Apple’s Q4 2010 Conference Call

During Apple’s Third Quarter 2010 Financial Results Conference Call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, Apple COO Tim Cook, and, surprisingly, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several noteworthy comments concerning the company’s digital media products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. During his opening remarks, Oppenheimer noted that Apple passed 125 million iOS devices—including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch—last month, with over 200,000 registered iOS developers, 65,000 game and entertainment apps, and over 30,000 apps made specifically for iPad. Oppenheimer also noted that iAd launched in July, and that the company is very happy with its results so far.

In regards to the iPod, Oppenheimer said it remains the worldwide MP3 player leader with over 70% market share, and is gaining share in most of tracked countries, while iTunes revenue for the quarter was over $1 billion. Turning to the iPhone, he pointed out that Apple sold over 40 million iPhones in fiscal year 2010, and that the iPhone accounted for more than $8.82 billion in revenue in the fourth-quarter, with an Average Selling Price (ASP) of around $610. iPhone sales grew in Asia, Europe, and Japan during the quarter, with sales more than doubling year-over-year in Japan. He added that the percentage of Fortune 500 companies piloting or deploying the iPhone jumped from 60% to 80% following the launch of the iPhone 4, and said Apple believes it could have sold even more iPhones if it could have kept up with demand.

iSuppli: Apple TV 2G materials cost under $64?

According to market research firm iSuppli, the second-generation Apple TV may have a materials cost of less than $64. Citing iSuppli’s teardown of the device, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that the Apple TV’s Samsung-made A4 processor is its most expensive part at $16.55, followed by the Toshiba 8GB flash memory chip, which is estimated to cost $14. The Broadcom-sourced Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip costs $7.65, according to iSuppli’s estimate, and a Texas Instruments $0.93 microcontroller chip also contributes to the overall cost. Overall, iSuppli found that the use of components similar to those found in the company’s other iOS devices helped to bring the materials cost down to a lower percentage of the retail price than was seen in the first-generation model. “As soon as we saw the first A4 chip in the iPad, it was pretty clear to us that Apple’s plan was to use it across several devices,” said Andrew Rassweiler, the iSuppli analyst who performed the teardown. “It makes sense to control costs across the supply chain.”

Time Warner CEO wary of 99 cent TV rentals

Speaking at the Royal Television Conference in London, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes cautioned against potential deals with Apple and/or Amazon that could harm sales of TV shows to other networks. “How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?” Bewkes said. “These new entrants must meet a few criteria: They must provide consumers with a superior TV experience, and they must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and creates the programming in the first place.” NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, who has a history of playing hardball with Apple, recently voiced similar concerns about Apple’s 99-cent TV rentals, saying, “We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content. ... We thought it would devalue our content.”

Apple TV 2G capable of 1080p playback

The second-generation Apple TV is capable of decoding and playing back 1080p video, according to a discussion thread on Mac Rumors’ forums. Users of the new set top box report that iTunes accepts 1080p content, which can then be streamed to the Apple TV 2G. While some 1080p material has caused the Apple TV to struggle—likely because of a higher bit rate than other 1080p files that did play without issue—it is encouraging that the second-generation Apple TV is able to decode 1080p at all, a process that’s considered the most resource-intensive part of playing a video. Unfortunately, 1080p video streamed to the Apple TV is downscaled to match the device’s 720p output cap before being sent to the connected TV, but this discovery bodes well for a potential future 1080p update to the device, and also keeps users with large libraries of 1080p content from needing to re-encode those videos, as long as they play back normally.

Apple TV menus subject to rental content availability

iLounge has learned that the Apple TV’s main menus may be limited in functionality—or disappear altogether—depending on the types of rental content available in that country. In Canada, for example, rental movies are available, so the “Movies” menu contains the full stable of options, while the “TV Shows” menu disappears completely, as iTunes TV Show rentals aren’t yet available in that country. In another example, setting Mexico as the “Country” results in the removal of the “TV Shows” menu and an empty “Movies” menu, save for the “In Theaters” trailer option, as neither Movie nor TV Show rentals are available. Any TV Shows, Movies, or other media that users have saved to iTunes and available on their networks can be accessed through the separate “Computers” main menu listing.

Current theatrical release films appear on Apple TV (Updated)

During our early testing of the second-generation Apple TV, iLounge has found several films available for rent that are currently in or awaiting theatrical release. I’m Still Here, the quasi-documentary starring Joaquin Phoenix which debuted in theaters on September 10, is available for rental for $8, while the sci-fi drama Monsters is available for rental for $11, ahead of its limited theatrical release on October 29. It is unclear whether Apple has plans to continue to offer theatrical release films for rent at higher prices, or whether these offerings are simply one-off titles and not indicative of a larger trend.

Update: It appears the films were available for rent through iTunes prior to the release of the second-generation Apple TV, and are not related to the set-top box’s launch.

Second-gen Apple TV arriving in stores

iLounge has confirmed that the second-generation Apple TV is starting to arrive in Apple retail stores across the U.S. The first shipments of the device arrived at some stores as early as yesterday morning, and while it is expected that most stores should have the device in stock, we encourage readers to call ahead to ensure your local store has them on hand before heading out.

Update: iLounge editor Jesse David Hollington notes that second-generation Apple TV units began arriving in Canadian Apple Stores this afternoon.

Apple TV 2G teardown reveals 8GB of storage

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iFixit has completed its teardown of the second-generation Apple TV, and has already revealed several previously unknown details of the device. Notably, the second-generation Apple TV sports 8GB of internal flash storage, equivalent to the $99 iPhone 3GS, and also features 256MB of RAM, the same as the fourth-generation iPod touch and the iPad. Its Apple A4 chip bears the same marking as the one found in the fourth-generation iPod touch and iPad, but different from the iPhone 4; the Broadcom BCM4329XKUBG 802.11n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM chip is also the same as the one found in the iPad. Overall, iFixit gave the second-generation Apple TV an eight out of ten for repairability thanks to its easy-to-open case, separate power supply board, and common fasteners.

Apple TV 2G interface runs on iPod touch

An iOS developer has managed to extract the second-generation Apple TV’s main interface and run it on an iPod touch. Named Lowtide.app, the interface was built with support for multiple devices, including the iPad, in its list of supported hardware, TUAW reports. Developer Dustin Howett took the application and managed to get it running on an iPod touch, although it required modification of the iPod touch’s software, to the point where it needed to be completely restored to regain its normal functionality. Notably, the application runs at full resolution and therefore does not display the entire Apple TV interface on the iPod touch, but instead only the furthest left portion. A video of the interface in action on the iPod touch is embedded below.

Apple TV 2G firmware posted online, examined

Apple has posted the new firmware for its second-generation Apple TV ahead of the device’s delivery to customers. Based on the file name, AppleTV2,1_4.1_8M89_Restore.ipsw, the firmware appears to be a version of iOS 4.1. Notably, the iPhone Dev-Team was able to use its SHAtter exploit to decrypt the keys used to block access to the Apple TV filesystem; according to Will Strafach, the new Apple TV OS is a “mashup of the old AppleTV OS and iOS,” and “all binaries are marked iPad-compatible.” Strafach suggests that existing add-ons for modified first-generation Apple TV units may work with little to no changes if compiled for ARM, while noting that “it seems all iOS frameworks” are present in the new firmware. [via Wired]

Second-gen Apple TV now shipping

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Apple has started shipping its second-generation Apple TV to pre-order customers. According to a comment made by iLounge reader Chuck, it appears the units are shipping directly from China instead of from a U.S.-based warehouse, with the delivery promised on September 28 or later—in-line with Apple’s previously announced intention to ship the device this month. Apple’s online store still lists a 2-3 week wait for new orders; there has been no indication of when the second-generation Apple TV might be available for purchase in Apple’s retail stores.

Apple TV shipping charges refunded due to possible delay

Apple has notified second-generation Apple TV customers that it is refunding expedited shipping charges because of an unspecified delay. “Our records indicate that when you placed your order you paid for upgraded shipping,” Apple says in the email. “Due to a delay, we may have not been able to meet our delivery commitment.” Apple has previously refunded some expedited shipping charges for just-released products when it has been necessary to drop ship them directly from China, however, the email does not specify either a revised delivery date or suggest that Apple TV will miss Apple’s promised September release. To the contrary, iLounge has confirmed that the company has also been issuing refunds simultaneously for expedited iPod orders, and already started authorizing the credit cards of pre-order customers, which AppleInsider notes was done eight days prior to the iPad’s launch in April.

More evidence of Apple TV apps appears online

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New evidence of apps support on the second-generation Apple TV has surfaced online. Mac Rumors points to a LinkedIn profile of an Apple intern, who describes him/herself as an “AppleTV Apps Engineer.” Last week, it was revealed that the second-generation Apple TV, despite using a user interface extremely similar to that of the first-generation model, actually runs a version of iOS. Reports from Engadget prior to the device’s launch that correctly predicted a 720p video output cap, the device’s A4 chip, and its use of iOS, also said the new Apple TV would be capable of running third-party applications, although not necessarily the same apps found on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

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