Apple has recently added iTunes Extras Preview to Apple TV. Following the addition of new iTunes Extras to iTunes Store HD movie downloads last month, the new Preview feature allows users to see the iTunes Extras menus for a movie without having to buy it. A badge in the upper right corner of the screen lets users know that they can gain the “full experience” of iTunes Extras by making an HD purchase. Notably, the feature is listed as “Preview iTunes Extras” on current-generation Apple TVs, and “iTunes Extras Preview” on units running the latest beta release of Apple TV software. The feature does not yet appear to be available in the Mac or PC version of the iTunes Store.
Unexpectedly, the just-released beta software version for Apple TV marks the debut of new icons and font changes within the UI. As one might expect, the changes closely resemble the iOS 7 style. A few of the icon colors for Apple channels have changed, as well. We’ll update this story if we find any other notable details.
The NFL will launch a dedicated Apple TV channel for its upcoming NFL Now service this month, 9to5Mac reports. A photo of the channel undergoing testing was reportedly taken by an NFL employee. First announced in January, NFL Now will feature original content, highlights, specific team content, content from NFL Films, NFL.com and the NFL Network, live events, press conferences, and more. An NFL Now iOS app will also be available. The NFL has recently started running TV commercials for the service, which means the launch is likely imminent — according to the report, a source claims NFL Now may debut later this week.
Apple engineers working on the new version of Apple TV have been on timelines that assume a 2015 launch, The Information reports. Those engineers “have been told by their bosses not to expect a launch this year.” It’s been expected for some time that Apple would release a newer version of its Apple TV with an updated TV service, with many reports stating it would happen this year. The initial timeline may have targeted 2014, but employees claim that cable companies are “dragging their heels,” and the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger has also slowed down the process. However, cable executives and TV programmers place the blame at Apple’s feet, saying the company “needs permission from multiple types of rights holders” to create the service it has in mind.
Apple TV has added two new channels, FOX Now and CNBC. Both channels require a cable subscription to access full content, although a number of FOX episodes and CNBC clips are available for viewing without authentication. The FOX Now channel includes a number of popular FOX shows, while the CNBC channel offers shows, clips, and a live stream.
Simpsons World and FXNOW will be coming to the Apple TV, according to recent reports. TV writer Jason Lynch tweeted that FXNOW, the on-demand video service for FX, FXX, and FXM, would debut on Apple’s set-top box “in the next 12 months.” The recently announced Simpsons World digital channel — which launches in October and will feature all 522 episodes of The Simpsons along with additional content — will also be coming to the set-top box, HitFix reports. HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall told iLounge via Twitter that Simpsons World would be a separate app from FXNOW on Apple TV. Both FXNOW and Simpsons World will require cable authentication. Simpsons World is set to launch in October, and it will be limited to FXX subscribers in the U.S, though it’s unclear if the Apple TV channel will launch at the same time as the also-announced iOS app.
Update: Lynch subsequently posted that Simpsons World will not be a separate iOS app, but rather will be incorporated into the FXNOW app.
Apple has released iTunes 11.3, bringing iTunes Extras for HD movies to the Mac — iTunes Extras has also been added to Apple TV within software update 6.2 for the set-top box. As noted in the release, “iTunes Extras can include behind-the-scenes videos, short films, high-resolution image galleries, director’s commentary, scenes, and more.” iTunes Extras will also be brought to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 8 in the fall. Previously purchased HD content will automatically gain the iTunes Extras content with any additional purchases necessary.
Update: With the update, Apple is changing the way it treats HD video files, as one download now contains all extras, and some movies start by showing users a screen more akin to a DVD menu. A consistent Extras UI works across iTunes, iOS, and Apple TV, sometimes including even more content than was previously available. The Bourne Legacy, for instance, adds 5 additional featurettes to the two originally included. Photos are included after the jump.
Apple has added four new channels to Apple TV: ABC News, AOL On, PBS Kids, and Willow. The ABC News channel features live streams and a variety of shows. AOL On is AOL’s video library service, which also features original programming. PBS Kids features popular children’s television programming — shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, and Dinosaur Train. Notably, PBS Kids requires activation and for users to sign in with Facebook, Google+, or a PBS account, though no cable subscription is necessary. Willow is a cricket channel, requiring a $15/month subscription.
Some users running the newest betas for iOS, OS X, and Apple TV have seen a notification that “Apple TV is now available for Continuity,” according to 9to5Mac. It’s possible Apple TV will gain some parts of the new Continuity feature seen in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, which allows users to see notifications from one device on the other devices, among other options. It seems feasible that Apple TV could at least use Continuity to view incoming call notifications, or to use the Handoff feature to continue watching iOS videos on Apple TV, for instance. Speculating further, this functionality may be compatible with Apple TV to support an app store for the set-top box in the future.
Apple has dropped the price of the Apple TV in European markets. The Apple TV is now €99 in Europe and £79 in the United Kingdom, down from €109 and £99, respectively. In the U.S., the Apple TV remains $99. On Tuesday, a new Apple TV software beta was released to developers — the beta includes the iCloud Family Sharing feature coming in iOS 8. [via 9to5Mac]
The 2014 keynote event at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) begins today at 1PM Eastern / 10AM Pacific Time, and a live video stream of the event will be available at this link and via the Apple Events channel on Apple TVs. A number of announcements are expected today for iOS 8, notably including the health-tracking feature Healthbook, an iOS-centric home automation feature and certification program, as well as further developments of the location-based iBeacons notification service. iOS 8 is anticipated to look largely like iOS 7, but feature a number of under-the-hood performance improvements and feature boosts.
Additionally, the new version of OS X for Macs will be shown, featuring a significant visual redesign akin to iOS 7’s. Well-sourced rumors suggest that Apple will also show new hardware, potentially including new Mac 4K displays, while previously-rumored “in development” products such as a 12” iPad could make appearances as well. Here’s what was actually announced, each with its own full article.
No new hardware was introduced during the WWDC 2014 keynote. iLounge’s editors have released a multi-editorial on WWDC 2014’s iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and more for an opinionated look at today’s announcements.
Apple has added iTunes in the Cloud support for movies and TV shows in Germany, iFun.de reports. TV shows have also been added to Apple TV in the country. Previously, iTunes in the Cloud was only available for music, apps, and books in Germany. At this point, Apple has yet to update its iTunes in the Cloud availability page to reflect the changes. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple may push a number of notable features originally planned for iOS 8 back to iOS 8.1, 9to5Mac reports. Some of these features could possibly include Healthbook, an updated Maps app, a standalone iTunes Radio app, VoLTE calling support, and TextEdit and Preview apps, among other additions. Resources are being allocated to the upcoming OS X operating system 10.10 and other projects, which may be the cause of the delayed push to iOS 8.1 for some features, sources said.
It’s also noted that Apple may give “a larger presence” to OS X operating system 10.10 at its Worldwide Developers Conference over iOS 8. iOS 8 could take advantage of a new processor from Apple, referred to as A8 — the successor to its current 64-bit A7 chip.
The report also notes that though Apple planned to introduce a new Apple TV in the first half of this year, it appears obvious that date has been pushed back. It’s possible that Apple’s discussions with Comcast could have contributed to the delay. Apple is reportedly working on both new hardware and revamped software for the Apple TV, but the two things are “not specifically tied together,” and could arrive at different times.
It’s possible that Siri could appear on Apple TV in the future, judging by code found in the iOS 7.1 SDK. According to 9to5Mac, an SDK file showing which platforms are compatible with Siri uses the number 3 as an identifier — the number 3 internally represents the Apple TV family in such cases. The code is present in iOS 7.1 and 7.1.1, but not in iOS 7.0.6. It’s possible Apple could introduce Siri in the rumored upcoming version of Apple TV.
Apple has added three new channels to Apple TV: A&E, The History Channel, and Lifetime. All three channels from A+E Networks require a cable subscription for full access — currently, only DirecTV, Cablevision Optimum and Verizon FiOS subscribers can gain access to all included content.
The networks are home to popular shows like Storage Wars, Duck Dynasty, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers. Recently, the A&E and History iOS apps were both updated to offer live streaming TV.
At a media event today, Amazon introduced Amazon Fire TV ($99), a streaming box designed to compete with Apple TV. Citing search, laggy performance, and closed ecosystems as issues with similar products on the market, Amazon’s Peter Larsen says the company sought to address those issues.
The box has a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for fast downloads. Larsen claims it’s three times as fast as Apple TV and other boxes. Many apps are supported, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and of course, Amazon Prime. The included remote control supports voice search with a built-in microphone. fireTV also supports games with the physical remote, an upcoming app, or the Fire game controller ($40). It’ll begin shipping today.
Apple is talking with Comcast about working together on a streaming television service that would use an Apple set-top box like Apple TV, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal would use Comcast’s cables to bypass web congestion, sources said. Using Comcast as a partner would, ideally, prevent buffering and other service issues that often plague streaming web video. Apple seeks to let users stream live and on-demand TV shows stored in the cloud, thus replacing a traditional cable box.
The report claims that at the moment, Apple and Comcast “aren’t close” to an agreement. Comcast would have to make “significant investments” in network equipment and other technology, while the two companies seem to disagree on which would control customer data — Apple wants people to sign on to the device using its Apple IDs, and the company is asking for a cut of the monthly subscription fees paid by customers. It’s noted that Apple was working on a deal with Time Warner Cable since mid-2012; Comcast’s deal to acquire Time Warner is currently being reviewed by regulators.
Apple has added an ACC Sports channel to Apple TV. The channel offers game highlights, interviews, insider reports, player profiles and more on Atlantic Coast Conference athletics.
NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament previews are also included in a Campus Insiders section. Like other recent channel additions, the ACC Sports channel appears automatically on the main page without a software update.
Along with today’s release of iOS 7.1, Apple has released a software update for Apple TV. In addition to other changes, version 6.1 of the Apple TV software now allows users to hide channels from the main menu. The changes can be made in Settings > Main Menu, or straight from the main menu by holding down the center button and pressing play.
The tweak should make it easier for users to navigate the main menu by hiding the channels to which they have no access or interest. We’ll update with any other significant findings.
Apple added an iTunes Festival channel to Apple TV this weekend, ahead of its upcoming SXSW concert series. While SXSW kicked off March 6, the iTunes Festival will begin Tuesday with Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and London Grammar. Other acts to perform at Apple’s first U.S.-based iTunes Festival include Kendrick Lamar, Willie Nelson, and Soundgarden.
The channel will stream the concerts live when the festival begins. But for now, the channel only has basic information about the performers and the festival, with links to the musicians’ albums in iTunes.