Apple has added new channels to Apple TV today — Vevo, Disney Channel, Disney XD, The Weather Channel, and the Smithsonian Channel. Disney XD is a separate channel from Disney Channel, aimed at preteens and teenagers; both Disney channels require signing in with a selected cable provider. Smithsonian Channel includes a collection of on-demand videos, and does not require an existing cable TV subscription. After requesting your city or zip code, The Weather Channel uses a new interface to show you today’s weather, full-screen hourly and 10-day forecasts, region-specific forecast videos, access to Weather Channel shows, topics of interest, and featured videos.
It was expected that Vevo would be introduced to the device soon, and the channel has both live and on-demand music videos. Interestingly, a system update isn’t needed to see the new channels, which means a prior update enabled Apple to add full-fledged channels to the Apple TV at any time. The new channels do not appear to be available outside of the United States at this point.
A new report from Quartz suggests that Apple is continuing to pursue talks for a future television offering. The report suggests that Apple has shifted its focus to negotiating directly with individual content providers rather than traditional cable companies. New sources familiar with the matter have revealed that Apple is negotiating with production studios and networks such as Disney’s ESPN, Time Warner’s HBO, and Viacom about possible strategies. Additionally, Apple reportedly has concluded that it “doesn’t need all, even most, content providers on board before it can release a TV set that people would buy,” rather just “enough good programming to distinguish the new product.”
While it remains unclear what stage these talks are at, sources indicate that Apple’s strategy could involve forming its own pay television service with content delivered entirely over the Internet—a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (“MVPD”), akin to planned offerings from Google, Intel, and Sony. With agreements from content providers, Apple could also offer channel-specific apps without the need for an existing cable television subscription. Apple has already gradually rolled out new services to the current Apple TV set top box, with both ESPN and HBO GO being added in a software update in June. These apps, however, depend on existing cable television subscriptions to the ESPN and HBO channels, as well as streaming agreements with specific cable providers.
Following previous reports that music video site Vevo is developing an Apple TV app, the Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Vevo—a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group—has already signed a deal with Apple to deliver on-demand music videos to the Apple TV along with a new channel of original programming. The Wall Street Journal cites “people familiar with the matter” as noting that Apple could release the Vevo Apple TV app as soon as this week. A similar deal has been made with Samsung, however its launch is reportedly “a few weeks away.”
In a CNBC interview, Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson was asked what’s “gone wrong” with Apple’s plan to revolutionize TV, which Isaacson heard firsthand from Jobs before his death in 2011. While the hardware and software were reportedly not problems, getting all the cable providers on board with on-demand programming was the main issue, Isaacson said. “That’s very hard with the cable bundling system we have,” he said.
When Jobs spoke of cracking the code to TV, “He was talking about being able to get whatever you want, on demand, like you could with any song for 99 cents instantly in the original iTunes store,” Isaacson said. And creating an easy interface for viewers isn’t the problem. “That is something I think Apple can crack,” he said, suggesting that the goal was to eliminate multiple remote controls and multiple boxes in favor of a simpler control system anyone could understand.
Music video site Vevo is developing an Apple TV app that will play its 24/7 music video channel, according to AdAge. The app would play Vevo TV, a traditional music video channel that plays videos around the clock without letting viewers select which videos they want to watch. Vevo already has both a regular and iPad-only HD app for iOS. Neither Apple nor Vevo commented on the report.
As Apple has recently released Apple TV app-like sections for HBO and ESPN while readying a Time Warner Cable app, the company has also “talked in-depth with other big distributors about similar apps,” according to The New York Times. So far, Apple’s move into TV has been focused on cooperating with distributors and programmers, though its “grand vision” — long-rumored to involve a TV set — is still a mystery. Apple apparently intends to collect fees from distributors to provide enhanced service while continuing to keep current subscribers paying for cable. An example of this enhanced service should be seen in the upcoming Time Warner app, which some say will offer a programming guide that’s “far superior” to Time Warner’s. It’s also noted that Apple has proposed an ad-skipping technology that would charge users for skipping ads, as reported earlier this week by Jessica Lessin. The technology would aim to compensate networks for ad revenue lost, preserving a monetization option for digitally distributed TV programming.
Maclocks has introduced the Apple TV Security Mount ($45). Made from aluminum and colored black to match the Apple TV, the security mount includes a bracket and lock to keep an Apple TV secure. The design allows for proper ventilation to prevent overheating, and protecting against Wi-Fi signal loss.
The Apple TV Security Mount can be secured to any flat surface using mounting holes in the bracket, and a security cable lock can be added for $20. Maclocks’ Apple TV Security Mount is available now.
Apple is close to a deal with Time Warner Cable that would give Time Warner subscribers access to channels on Apple TV, Bloomberg reports. An agreement between the two companies could be announced “within a few months,” according to sources. A recent Apple TV update added HBO GO and WatchESPN to the device, among other subscription services. Sources also say Apple is hiring Hulu senior vice president Pete Distad to help negotiate with media and cable companies.
Noted within Apple’s official announcement regarding HBO GO and WatchESPN launching on Apple TV, the company has disclosed that iTunes users have downloaded more than one billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes. While the numbers pale by comparison with app and song download numbers, they represent interesting milestones for video content. Apple notes that iTunes users are now purchasing more than 800,000 TV episodes and more than 350,000 movies per day. The Apple TV now offers users more than 60,000 movies and more than 230,000 TV episodes.
Apple today released Apple TV Software Update 5.3, the latest update for its second- and third-generation set-top boxes. The latest update adds support for HBO GO, WatchESPN, Sky News, Qello, and Crunchyroll for users in specific regions such as the United States. HBO GO and WatchESPN require cable subscriptions through participating providers. Qello offers both paid and free subscriptions for users to watch on-demand HD concerts and music documentaries. A free live stream of Sky News will be accessible for users in the U.S., U.K., and Ireland. Apple notes that “Crunchyroll, the leading global video service for Japanese Anime and Asian media, will allow subscribers worldwide to watch the latest HD shows one hour after they air in Japan.”
Apple has yet to update its Apple TV Software Update page with more detailed information on the release, so it is unclear yet if there are any other changes. Apple TV Software Update 5.3 is available now via the Software Update feature of the Apple TV’s Settings menu.
A new report confirms that the Apple TV will include support for Apple’s recently unveiled iTunes Radio service. With the initial Apple TV Software beta, released to developers alongside the iOS 7 beta, iTunes Radio appears as a standalone app with its own icon. A series of stations compiled by Apple is apparently provided, along with the ability for users to create custom stations based on an artist, genre, or song and purchase the currently playing song through iTunes. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple’s WWDC 2013 keynote is about to begin in San Francisco, California, with iOS 7, an Apple music streaming service nicknamed iRadio, and new Mac computers/software expected to be officially announced. We’ll be providing live updates throughout the course of the event to let you know what’s happening with iOS 7, any new iOS-related accessories, and other products that may be announced. Click on the title of this article for the latest details as they happen.
Note: We’ve moved iOS-related updates to the top of the article so you can see them before the Mac-related news.
Note 2: The event is now over, with all updates below.
Two hacks capable of exploiting Apple products have recently surfaced. Plexconnect allows the Plex media player client to run on Apple TV without jailbreaking the device. While an iOS Plex app has been available, this new hack puts Plex on the Apple TV with nothing more than a brief connection between the Apple TV and a computer, thanks to a trick that re-routes the Trailers application to a different web address. Apple will likely respond quickly to patch this exploit.
Another Apple hack comes through a phone charger and exploits iOS devices. Researchers from Georgia Tech claim to have developed an accessory that can invisibly install malware on a device running the newest version of iOS. The malicious charger is built around a $45 open-source single-board computer, and it can allegedly compromise an iOS device in less than a minute. Researchers plan on revealing the charger at July’s Black Hat security conference; it’s unclear whether the charger uses a Dock Connector or Lightning interface. [via 9to5Mac, Forbes]
CW announced its TV Now app will be coming to Apple TV. Much like the Xbox and mobile TV Now apps, the Apple TV app will offer full episodes of ad-supported CW shows the day after airing.
No cable authentication will be required to watch the shows. TV Now will be the first network television app on Apple TV — it’s reportedly set to launch sometime “in the coming weeks.” [via Deadline, MacRumors]
A small number of third-generation Apple TVs have known Wi-Fi issues, and Apple has started a replacement program for these affected units. Apple has determined replacements can be offered free of charge for up to two years after the device’s purchase date.
The Wi-Fi issues include: cannot locate network, unable to join network, and dropped or intermittent connection. If the last four letters of the serial number are DHRN, and the third and fourth characters of the serial number match one of the included pairs, the Apple TV is eligible for replacement. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has released Apple TV software version 5.2.1 for Apple TV.
The update notably features a redesigned Hulu Plus app, now sporting a horizontal bar and banner-based navigation design closer to the iTunes Store access points on the Apple TV, as well as various bug fixes. It’s available now from the General settings menu of the Apple TV interface.
New photographs show that the new, tweaked Apple TV has kept the same box and Apple part number as the previous iteration of the device — a somewhat unusual decision by the company, given that the model number has changed from A1427 to A1469. Notably, the box still makes references to AirPlay mirroring with the iPhone 4S and iPad; newer devices, such as the iPhone 5, iPod touch 5G or iPad mini, are not referenced.
A report from Anandtech notes that the new Apple TV uses significantly less power than the previous version. “Overall the power savings seem to be around 800mW across the board,” the report claims. Previous reports have noted that Apple is using a new version of the 32nm single-core A5 chip in this Apple TV — a smaller design with no other obvious performance changes.
An earlier claim that an updated Apple TV would contain Apple’s A5X processor has been refuted by a recent teardown of the device. The tweaked Apple TV instead houses a smaller version of the Apple’s A5 chip, believed to be a 28-nanometer version of the prior design, a component that likely consumes less power and certainly less space while performing the same tasks as before. Originally spotted as Apple TV3,2 in iOS 6.1, this tweaked Apple TV does not feature any notable changes for users, according to Apple. [via MacRumors]
Update: Chip experts at Chipworks have discovered that despite the A5 billing, the chip is a new 32nm design, and not just a 28nm shrink of the earlier design. That Apple would develop another, smaller version of the A5 and test it inside the otherwise unchanged Apple TV suggests that it plans to use the chip in future devices. [via MacRumors]
Update x2: A further update suggests that the new chip has been designed to include only a single ARM CPU core, rather than the previous design, which contained two cores, one of which was disabled. [via MacRumors]
The India version of Apple’s web site is now showing a live page for Apple TV as the set-top box launches in the country. Various reports are listing slightly different prices in rupees for Apple TV, but it appears that the cost will be roughly $150. Apple TV can also be found in the iPod section of India’s online Apple Store, though there is currently no option to buy online. [via BGR India]
HBO has announced that the cable network’s apps are now able stream from an iPhone or iPad to Apple TV via Airplay, thanks to updates to the HBO Go app and Cinemax MAX Go app. Kessler confirmed that HBO Go will become directly available through Apple TV in the future, as was reported earlier this month; no date was specified. [via AllThingsD]