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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

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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

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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.

MLB.tv coming to second-generation Apple TV

Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced that MLB.tv streaming will soon be available for the Apple TV. According to a page on MLB’s website, users will need to sign in with the username and password associated with their MLB.tv subscription to gain access to the content. Features will include select Spring Training games, a full slate of Regular Season games, HD streaming where available, both live and archived games, home and away broadcasts, and quick navigation to run-scoring plays or a particular at bat. The feature appears in the Apple TV’s Internet menu, directly below Netflix, and requires Apple TV Software 4.2. Interestingly, code found within an early Apple TV Software 4.3 beta—incorrectly linked by some to a gaming service—indicated that Apple planned to offer a sporting event streaming service on the device, although MLB.tv was not specifically mentioned. MLB.tv’s subscription packages start at $100/year or $20/month.

H-Squared unveils tvTray for second-generation Apple TV

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H-Squared has unveiled its new tvTray mount for the second-generation Apple TV. Made from cast acrylic, the tvTray is a vertical wall mount for the second-generation Apple TV that allows users to mount their devices facing up, down, left, or right, and features a channel for cabling to ensure a clean look, a device-matching piano black finish, and a raised design to help combat Wi-Fi interference. H-Squared’s tvTray mount for the second-generation Apple TV is available now and sells for $30.

Apple TV 4.3 beta points to possible sports offerings

New code found in the beta version of Apple TV Software 4.3 suggests Apple is considering incorporating sporting events and/or sports-related updates into the Apple TV’s existing content offerings. The code in question was published online by Engadget, which took the repeated use of the word “controller” in strings related to “ATVGames” to mean that Apple is considering an online gaming service. In the parlance of Apple’s development tools, however, the word controller refers to behind-the-scenes software rather than physical game controller hardware, and other references within the beta code appear to confirm this.

Notably, strings related to these controller listings include “calendar,” “games-by-date,” and “standings,” all of which would be relevant to sporting events. Other strings involving “ATVThunder” controllers include “thunder-standings,” “com.apple.appletv.play.live.thunder,” and “.play.archive.thunder.” Based on these strings, it seems more likely that Apple is planning to launch some sort of sporting event service—either live streaming of events, streaming of past events, or both—or a sporting event scoring update/ticker feature. As with all pre-release Apple code, it is possible that these references will be removed in the public release, or may pertain to testing for a planned future service that never materializes.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 beta 3 to developers

Apple has released the third beta version of iOS 4.3 to its paid developers. Listed as build number 8F5166b, it is unclear what has changed in the new version from prior betas, which included the new Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi sharing feature and enhanced AirPlay support for Safari and third-party apps. In addition, the release is once again accompanied by a new preview build of Apple TV Software 4.3. Separate versions of iOS 4.3 beta 2 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.

For more information on iOS 4.3, see our Full Breakdown article.

Netflix: Apple TV has passed iPad in viewing hours

In its fourth-quarter letter to shareholders and financial results release (PDF Link), Netflix has revealed that the Apple TV has surpassed the iPad in viewing hours, despite having sold far fewer units. Noting that the devices with the largest installed bases—including Windows and Mac laptops, the Sony PS3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and the Nintendo Wii—are the most popular devices for streaming Netflix, the release states that the “AppleTV has done very well for us, and in just four months has passed the also-growing iPad in Netflix viewing hours.” Apple sold its one-millionth Apple TV the week of December 25th, while cumulative iPads sales as of the same date were 14.79 million.

Apple TV Software 4.3 Beta fixes numbering, keyboards

New changes found in the Apple TV Software 4.3 beta suggest Apple is finally synchronizing the device’s Software and iOS Build numbers, while also tweaking the design of its on-screen keyboards. In the new beta, both the Apple TV Software and iOS Build Versions are listed as 4.3; previously, these two numbers were not the same, leading to confusion as to whether the update should be referred to by its Software or iOS Build version number. In addition, the beta of Software 4.3 features a new on-screen keyboard design, dividing the prior options into three six-by-seven grids—one for lower case letters and numbers, one for upper case letters and numbers, and one for symbols—and users can toggle between the new keyboards using the remote’s play/pause button. The new design should cut down on the number of button presses required to enter information on the device. Apple released the first beta version of Apple TV Software 4.3 to paid developers yesterday; it is unknown when the software and the companion iOS 4.3 update for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch will be released.

Sony releases packing new iTunes Extras features

Several of the latest iTunes Store movie releases from Sony Pictures are taking further advantage of iTunes Extras than past releases, according to a new report. PaidContent reports that the iTunes Extras releases of The Other Guys, Salt, and Resident Evil: Afterlife offer new interactive features such as the ability to search for a word, which results in a list of any time it’s mentioned in the script, along with a link to that exact moment in the film, a “clip & share” function that lets users select a scene and post it to social networks, and a playlist with songs from the film which is linked to places on the iTunes Store where the songs can be purchased. Despite the apparent progress of iTunes Extras as a platform for delivering interactive content, Apple has thus far failed to offer the feature on its newest devices, including the iPad and second-generation Apple TV, as iTunes Extras can currently be viewed exclusively from within iTunes on the Mac or PC or on the first-generation Apple TV. Notably, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly promised iTunes Extras support for the second-generation Apple TV, saying that the feature would be coming in a future update.

Apple TV 2G sales to pass one million this week

Apple has announced that it expects sales of the second-generation Apple TV to top one million units later this week. According to the release, iTunes users are now renting and purchasing over 400,000 TV episodes and over 150,000 movies per day. Notably, this is the first time Apple has made an official announcement regarding Apple TV sales, although Apple CEO Steve Jobs did say during the company’s most recent financial results conference call that the company has sold roughly 250,000 units since its release, meaning Apple has sold roughly 750,000 units since Jobs’ statement on October 18. Perhaps not coincidentally, Roku CEO Anthony Wood recently said that it expected to sell its one millionth set-top box by the end of this year, adding that the company’s sales actually doubled when the new Apple TV came out, thanks to the increased attention it brought to the product category.

Update: Apple has since confirmed that it did pass one million second-generation Apple TV units sold prior to Christmas.

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.

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