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Netflix streaming issues persist on Apple TV

Issues with Netflix’s streaming service continue to hound users of the second-generation Apple TV and some other devices, despite complaints to Netflix and Apple dating as far back as last year. Among the issues being discussed on Apple’s Support boards, in various reports, and by iLounge’s editors and contacts include frequent pauses for buffering which can take longer than the duration of the selected program, complete connection timeouts, and error messages indicating problems loading content or communicating with Netflix. Calls to Netflix support have suggested that Netflix is blaming the issues on ISPs, regardless of the customers’ locations or bandwidths, while the ISPs have typically pointed the finger back at Netflix. Although the causes of these various issues are unclear, what is clear is that the problems appear to be widespread and unrelated to a given user’s location or internet service provider. We’ve reached out to Netflix for comment and will update this entry when we receive a reply.

Have you been experiencing issues using Netflix on your Apple TV? Let us know in the comments below.

Netflix now limits concurrent streaming? (Updated: No)

According to a new report by Stop the Cap, Netflix has recently started to enforce streaming restrictions on subscribers, limiting streaming content to one device at a time. Although the Netflix Terms of Use previously included this limit as an official policy, it was not enforced, enabling users to stream multiple movies or TV shows at once to different devices.

While the policy applies to all Netflix-capable devices, it would appear that it is not yet being consistently enforced within the Netflix iOS app. Our testing today demonstrated that different Netflix content could concurrently stream on up to three iOS devices over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections, or on an Apple TV and a single iOS device, provided the Apple TV stream was already running when the iOS stream began. It is unclear at this time whether this behavior is intentional or not, however the Netflix Terms of Use do not provide any exceptions for specific devices. [via Mashable]

Update: A follow-up report from GigaOM indicates that this seems to be the result of a technical glitch rather than an actual policy change, citing an e-mail from Netflix VP of Corporate Communications Steve Swasey in which he stated that “No Netflix member is limited to less than two concurrent streams. A few Netflix members have heard differently from us, which is an error that we are correcting.”

 

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 7 to developers

Apple has seeded its seventh beta version of iOS 5 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to registered developers. Listed as build 9a5313e, the release is also available as an over-the-air update for devices running the prior beta, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 7 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple pulls 99-cent TV show rentals from iTunes

Apple has pulled, at least temporarily, all of its 99-cent TV show rentals from the iTunes Store. The option to rent individual TV episodes from participating networks has disappeared from both the second-generation Apple TV and the iTunes Store on the Mac and PC, and, as noted by AppleInsider, Apple has also removed a support document entitled “iTunes Store: How to rent TV shows” from the web, as well as all mention of 99-cent TV show rentals from the Apple TV product page. Apple earlier this month enabled streaming of previously-purchased TV shows directly from the Apple TV, paving the way for such a move; it is also possible that lack of network support for the rental initiative led to its demise.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 6 to developers

Apple has released the sixth beta version of its upcoming iOS 5 operating system for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Listed as build 9A5302b and available exclusively to paid iOS developers, the release does not appear to include any major changes from prior versions, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 6 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple updates Apple TV 2G, adds TV shows to iCloud

Apple has released Apple TV Software 4.3, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. According to John Gruber of Daring Fireball, the update adds the ability to purchase TV show episodes directly from the device, and to access and stream any TV show episodes previously purchased using the iTunes Store account tied to the device. In support of this feature, Apple has added a listing for TV shows to the “Purchased” section of the iTunes Store, allowing users to download previously purchased TV show episodes, and the update also adds support for Vimeo.

Notably, the ability to re-download previously purchased TV show episodes seems to be tied to the particular network or studio that owns the rights to the show, as iLounge has discovered that certain shows—including, specifically, episodes from series that originally ran on Comedy Central and FX—do not appear under the Purchased section and are therefore unavailable for re-download. Apple TV Software 4.3 is available now via the device’s software update feature.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 4

Apple has released its fourth beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5274d—is accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5 and Apple TV Software. It is unclear what major changes, if any, may be present in the new version. iOS 5 beta 4 is available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Update: 9 to 5 Mac reports that the update can be installed on devices running iOS 5 beta 3 via the over-the-air software update feature found within the Settings app.

Apple TV Bluetooth support found in iOS 5 beta

New code that would apparently allow the second-generation Apple TV to support Bluetooth connections has been found in the device’s latest beta version of iOS 5. Citing a reader tip, 9 to 5 Mac reports that users will be able to activate the device’s built-in Bluetooth support via the Settings menu, after which a standard pairing menu will appear and let users connect devices using a provided passcode. The code reprinted in the report indicates that the feature will offer support for Bluetooth keyboards. Notably, iFixit discovered a Broadcom BCM4329XKUBG 802.11n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM chip inside the second-generation Apple TV that was the same one found in the first-generation iPad. It is unclear what ramifications Bluetooth support might have for the set-top box outside of improved text entry via a Bluetooth keyboard, though Apple could allow the feature to be used for everything from improved remote controls to game controllers.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 3

Apple has released its third beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5259f—is accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5 and Apple TV Software. It is unclear what major changes, if any, may be present in the new version. iOS 5 beta 3 is available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Waterfield Designs debuts Apple TV Case

Waterfield Designs has debuted its new Apple TV Case. Designed for the second-generation Apple TV, the case is made from nylon, with an orange or silver textured exterior, soft padded interior pockets for the Apple TV, HDMI cable, power cord, and Apple remote, and a self-locking zipper to hold everything securely inside. Waterfield Designs’ Apple TV Case is available now and sells for $45.

Numerous Apple TV users unable to update?

A number of second-generation Apple TV users are reporting that they are unable to update their units. According to a lengthy thread on Apple’s Support Communities site, afflicted users are left unable to update their devices using the devices themselves or via iTunes. One user indicated that Apple is aware of the issue, which is reportedly related to problems with the company’s various update servers. That same post indicated that Apple hoped to have the problem fixed by tomorrow, June 28; notably, the problem does not appear to affect all users, and seems to be at least slightly related to the user’s geographic location. [Thanks, Jeff]

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 2 with Wi-fi Sync

Apple has posted the second beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5248d—includes support for Wi-Fi Sync. As noted by Mac Rumors, the release notes state, “In iOS 5.0 beta 2, wireless syncing is now available for the Mac. It requires iTunes 10.5 beta 2 and OS X 10.6.8 or Lion. You will see an option to enable wireless syncing when you connect your device to iTunes with the USB cable. It is recommended you perform your initial sync with a cable after restoring your device.”

The text continues, “Wireless syncing is triggered automatically when the device is connected to power and on the same network as the paired computer. Or, you can manually trigger a sync from iTunes or from Settings -> General -> iTunes Sync (same network as paired computer required). Be sure your device is plugged into a power source when performing Wireless syncs. If you find issues with apps, media and/or photos synced to your device, you can reset then resync. From Settings -> General -> Reset, choose Erase all Content and Settings. Then reconnect to iTunes and sync again. In this beta, iTunes may incorrectly report Photos as ‘Other’ in the capacity bar. Photo syncing otherwise works as expected.” In addition to iOS 5 beta 2, iTunes 10.5 beta 2 and Apple TV Software beta 2 have also been released; all three are available from the iOS Dev Center.

WWDC 2011 Keynote play-by-play transcript now available

We’ve just posted the full chronological transcript of our play-by-play from the WWDC 2011 Keynote. If you haven’t seen the separate news stories yet, today’s big announcements pertained to the fall 2011 releases of iOS 5 and Apple’s new free wireless synchronization service iCloud, as well as the July 2011 release of Mac OS Lion. Click on the title of this article for the full transcript, and visit our Flickr photostream for live photos from the event.

Apple releases Apple TV Software Update 4.2.2

Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 4.2.2, the latest software update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Apple TV software update support page, so it is unclear what bug fixes or other improvements might be included in the update.  Apple TV Software Update 4.2.2 is available now via the device’s software update feature.

GelaSkins now offering skins for Apple TV 2G

GelaSkins is now offering a range of decorative skins for the second-generation Apple TV. Available in a wide variety of designs, the protective skins cover the top, front, left, and right sides of the Apple TV, leaving openings for the device’s rear ports, status light, and IR receiver. The company promises easy application and clean removal of the 1mm thick skins thanks to 3M adhesive technology, and each set also includes a matching skin for the aluminum Apple Remote. GelaSkins’ decorative skins for the second-generation Apple TV are available now and sell for $20 each.

Apple to license AirPlay video streaming tech?

Apple is considering licensing its AirPlay video streaming technology to consumer electronics companies, letting them build devices that could accept streaming movies, TV shows, and other video content from iPods, iPhones, and iPads, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the project, Bloomberg reports that the new venture would allow AirPlay support to be built directly into TV sets, removing the need for an external Apple TV set-top box. One of the sources cited said devices compatible with AirPlay video streaming could be available later this year. Apple currently only licenses its AirPlay audio streaming technology, and then to only a handful of companies, which pay Apple $4 for each device sold that offers the functionality, according to the report. The report adds, interestingly, that Apple’s licensing agreements prevent video from being streamed, even though the technology is there to do it.

Apple releases Apple TV Software Update 4.2.1

Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 4.2.1, the latest software update for its second-generation set-top box. According to Apple’s Apple TV software update support page, the new software addresses issues “that may cause the screen to flicker or display incorrect color on some older TVs,” an issue “where Apple TV may not wake up from sleep,” and an issue “where audio may not be heard on some TV models after switching from another input,” and also offers other unspecified stability and performance fixes. Notably, a number of second-generation Apple TV owners had complained of flickering issues following the release of the 4.2 update. Apple TV Software Update 4.2.1 is available now via the device’s software update feature.

Apple TV Software 4.2 causing screen flicker issues?

A growing Apple Support Discussions thread suggests that yesterday’s Apple TV Software Update 4.2 is causing flickering issues for some users. Users of various Panasonic, Sony, Hitachi, Samsung, and Toshiba TV sets report that their screen now flickers once every couple of seconds, whether displaying menus, videos, or other media. A large number of the users reporting problems appear to be connecting the second-generation Apple TV to their sets using HDMI to DVI adapters, although some report the issue over standard HDMI connections. Some users also report that their HDMI output is stuck on “Auto” and is delivering a downgraded 480p signal despite their sets’ HD capabilities. Notably, many of the users report that they had no problems prior to the update, while other say they have experienced similar issues in the past. [via AppleInsider]

Apple releases Apple TV Software Update 4.2 (Updated)

Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 4.2 for the second-generation Apple TV. According to the new “What’s New” screen, the update includes support for MLB.tv and NBA League Pass streaming, AirPlay video streaming for apps and Safari, new slideshow themes, and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound in Netflix movies and TV shows, as well as an improved on-screen keyboard. Apple TV Software Update 4.2 is available now via the device’s software update feature or as a direct download from Apple.

Update: Despite indications in the beta software that Apple would finally synchronize the Apple TV’s Software and iOS Build numbers on 4.3, the official release has the new Software listed as Version 4.2, with an iOS Build of 4.3. We have updated this and the accompanying MLB.tv/NBA League Pass articles to reflect the correct, official version numbering.

NBA League Pass added to second-gen Apple TV

Alongside new support for MLB.tv streaming, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Apple have added NBA League Pass support to the second-generation Apple TV. Appearing underneath Netflix and MLB.tv in the Apple TV’s Internet menu, the service allows subscribers to watch up to 40 live and archived NBA games per week, although Local and National blackout restrictions apply. Pricing for NBA.com League Pass Broadband is $65 for access to up to seven teams’ games, or $100 for access to games from all 30 NBA teams. NBA League Pass access requires Apple TV Software 4.2.

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