Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed at the Wall Street Journal’s inaugural WSJD Live conference in California last night where he talked about Apple’s latest initiatives and directions, including Apple Pay and Apple Watch. Cook described last week’s Apple Pay launch as very successful; more than one million credit cards were activated in the first 72 hours, and Visa noted that more credit cards have been activated in Apple Pay than in all other contactless payments combined. Cook also noted that he’d be talking with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba about a possible Apple Pay partnership “later this week.”
Regarding Apple Watch, Cook was a bit evasive on the battery life question, reiterating a previous claim that Apple “think[s] people are going to use it so much you will end up charging it daily,” and that the key to Apple Watch was that it needs “to look really cool” as opposed to being “geeky.” Cook also touched on Apple’s involvement in the TV marketplace, stating that “We are living in the 1970s” when it comes to the television paradigm, and suggesting that Apple is working on something in this area, although he once again declined to go into specifics beyond saying “that there can be something great done in the space.” Asked about the discontinuation of the iPod classic, Cook noted that Apple could no longer get the parts for the existing 2009 model, and huge engineering would have been required to update it, which wasn’t worth it in light of small consumer demand. Cook also said that Apple would continue to go as low as it could on iPhone prices while “maintaining the customer experience.”
Apple has added quietly added two more new content channels to the Apple TV: Hallmark Cards’ Feeln network and A&E’s FYI network. Feeln provides access to “family-friendly movies, documentaries, and short films” while FYI “features lifestyle programming, with a mix of reality, culinary, home renovation and makeover series.” The new channels appear to be available only to Apple TV users in the U.S. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has filed a patent application titled “Browsing remote content using a native user interface,” describing ways in which an iOS application could serve as a second screen controller for an Apple TV. In contrast to Apple’s existing Remote app, this design would present the user with a more full-featured Apple TV or iTunes interface. The specific interface would be determined by the Apple TV and simply rendered by the iOS application in a manner appropriate to its own screen, effectively allowing for the UI to be presented in a variety of different ways appropriate to the content being browsed, searched for, or viewed. The patent application also suggests that users could simultaneously control the media device and search for or browse information from other sources “not available to the media device,” such as the web, and transmit information from the remote to the Apple TV — for example, users could visit an external web page featuring trivia for a movie currently being viewed, and then send that information back to be displayed on the Apple TV. The application also suggests ways in which iCloud or “other network-accessed sources” could store information or user interface templates specific to different devices, and ways to sync such information across multiple devices.
Sky Entertainment has augmented its Now TV streaming service for Apple TV for users in the UK, going beyond Sky Sports to add access to Sky Movies and Sky Entertainment. As of now, Sky customers can select from three packages, with Movies and Entertainment requiring a monthly fee and Sports available on an individual 24 hour pass basis. Sky has announced that it will increase the price of its Movies and Entertainment packages next month by £1-£2.
A recent change to Apple’s release notes for the Apple TV Software Update 7.0 indicates that iOS 8’s new Peer-to-Peer AirPlay feature will actually be limited to the “Rev A” third-generation Apple TV released in March 2013. Peer-to-Peer AirPlay is a new feature that allows users to wirelessly stream content to an Apple TV from an iOS 8 device or Mac running OS X Yosemite without having to connect to a host Wi-Fi network.
This is the first time a feature was added solely to this model, and not to earlier, supposedly identical 1080p Apple TVs. The newest Apple TV model was quietly released by Apple last year with relatively minor internal upgrades, and at the time Apple said these component changes would not affect any product features. Further, Apple’s Identifying Apple TV models support document still lists both third-generation models as essentially one class of device that was introduced in “Early 2012.” While it’s unclear why Peer-to-Peer AirPlay would be limited to only the Rev A model, it’s worth noting that we have already noted some wireless performance differences in our testing between the original third-generation Apple TV and the “Rev A” model when running the latest 7.0 software update.
Apple has added the FXNOW channel to Apple TV. It was reported in July that FXNOW would be arriving on Apple’s set-top box in the next 12 months — that time has already come. FXNOW is the on-demand service for FX, FXX, and FXM, and as such, the channel features a number of FX shows, and a surprising amount of popular movies, as well. Authentication of a cable subscription is required to access the content.
Apple TV Software 7.0 has been released for the third-generation Apple TV, bringing a new Beats Music channel to the set-top box. As in the case of the iOS app, the Beats Music channel prompts users to sign in or get started on a 14-day free trial. The software update also includes the flatter, redesigned look we previously detailed when the software was in its fourth beta. As seen in that beta, support for Family Sharing and iCloud Photos have also been added to Apple TV. Additionally, the 720p Apple TV received a new update, 6.2.1, which has none of the new UI changes.
More new channels have been added to Apple TV, this time in Scandinavia. SVT Play has been added as a channel in Sweden, and NRK has been added for Apple TV users in Norway. SVT Play is a free service offering on-demand and live television, including sports, news, drama, documentaries, and children’s shows. NRK is a Norwegian public broadcaster now offering 40,000 shows on demand through Apple TV. Earlier today, Apple added Showtime Anytime to Apple TV in the U.S. and brought back its iTunes Festival channel, as well. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has just added the Showtime Anytime channel to Apple TV, following its reintroduction of the iTunes Festival channel. The new channel is basically Showtime’s version of HBO Go — it’s been available on the App Store for some time. Showtime Anytime has on-demand content and live streams of Showtime East and Showtime West for authenticated TV subscribers. Some free full episodes of Showtime shows are even available without cable or satellite authentication. Interestingly, the channel’s name may scroll from right to left when it’s selected, as there are too many characters to fit all at once with the 720p version of the Apple TV. No scrolling is evident on later 1080p Apple TV models.
The iTunes Festival channel has reappeared on Apple TV, not long before the festival kicks off in London. Apple’s iTunes Festival starts September 1 and runs through the whole month. As has been the case previously, the channel will let users watch live HD streaming video of the performances, as well as on-demand recordings after performances have ended. New acts, including Mary J. Blige, deadmau5, and Ed Sheeran, were recently added to the schedule. Currently, only two days of the festival have acts yet to be announced, as the schedule is mostly set.
As anticipated, NFL Now has been added to Apple TV today as a dedicated channel. Like the iOS app, the Apple TV channel offers customized highlights and other video clips with the creation of an NFL.com account. Without that account, users can still access a variety of videos, including news updates, and clips from NFL shows such as Hard Knocks. For $2 a month, users can upgrade to NFL Now Plus, which offers immediate in-game highlights from every game, and access to the vault of NFL Films shows and documentaries.
ABC News claims that its viewers are watching 50 percent more live video on Apple TV than on desktop and mobile combined. The organization has released a new infographic highlighting the first 30 days of ABC News on Apple TV. It’s also noted that viewers spend 65 percent more time per visit on Apple TV compared to when viewing on desktop. ABC also announced it’s adding three new local stations to its current nine local stations on Apple TV — affiliates in Albuquerque, Boston, and Honolulu are set to be added to the channel.
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.