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Apple announces second-generation Apple TV

Apple today announced a long-awaited update to its Apple TV home entertainment device, significantly reducing the size of the device and shifting the focus to a streaming rather than syncing model. Almost entirely preserving the interface of the Apple TV 3.0 software update, the new Apple TV device will now include the aluminum seven-button Apple Remote that was previously released but not included with the device, while dropping the component video and stereo audio ports in favor of one HDMI port and an optical audio port. The new Apple TV measures 0.9” by 3.9” by 3.9”, and weighs 0.6 pounds. Its black plastic shell is flat and mostly matte on top with a glossy Apple TV logo, tapering on the sides from glossy straight sides to a gentle secondary flat surface on the bottom, elevating the bulk of its body off of the table it’s on. Now powered by the Apple A4 chip, the system supports full 802.11n networking—2.4GHz and 5GHz—as well as 802.11a/b/g standards, and continues to have 720p H.264 and M-JPEG support, with 640x480 MPEG-4 support—like the prior Apple TV.

At Apple’s event today, Steve Jobs reiterated that the goals of the new Apple TV design were to provide Hollywood movies & TV shows, all content in HD, lower content prices and reduce the dependency on computer and storage management. As part of the new design and goal of reducing storage requirements, the new Apple TV will move to an entirely rental-based model with no purchases available on the device. First-run movies will be released as HD Rentals for $5 on the same day as the DVD release, and HD TV Shows will now be available for rent for $1, commercial free, as opposed to the prior $3 per episode price. Content will be initially be available from the ABC and FOX networks, with other networks hopefully coming on board in the future. The new Apple TV will also provide support for Netflix streaming in the U.S. in addition to its current support for streaming videos from YouTube and photos from Flickr and MobileMe. The new Apple TV will also continue to include support for streaming content from an iTunes library. The new Apple TV will be priced at $99 and will be available from Apple Stores and online in about four weeks, with pre-orders starting today.

Report: new Apple TV to offer Netflix streaming

Apple is preparing to announce a next-generation version of the Apple TV with Netflix streaming capabilities, according to a new report. Citing three people with knowledge of Apple’s plans, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that the inclusion of Netflix content might help boost sales of the “hobby” product, and that two of the three sources claimed the revamped device will be announced at Apple’s media event later today. The report also states that the new Apple TV will be priced at $99, as previously rumored, but did not make any mention of a potential name change for the set-top box. Prior reports have stated that the next-generation Apple TV will be based on iOS; Netflix currently has apps for Apple’s other iOS devices.

Apple iPod event scheduled for Sept 1

Apple has begun emailing select members of the press, inviting them to a special event in San Francisco on September 1. As it has been in the past, the event will be held at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, and will be focused on the company’s iPod line, as indicated by the invitation’s image of an acoustic guitar with an Apple logo cut-out. Apple is widely expected to introduce updated iPods at the event, likely including the fourth-generation iPod touch, and possibly a rumored next-generation Apple TV, which may be renamed iTV, as well as 99 cent TV episode rentals.

Apple to hold iPod event on September 7?

Apple plans to hold its annual iPod media event in San Francisco on September 7th, according to a new report. Contained within the same Bloomberg report that suggested Apple would be debuting a 99 cent TV show rental service, yet curiously overlooked by multiple outlets—including iLounge—the brief statement cites two people as saying Apple will launch a new iPod touch, an improved Apple TV, and the TV show rental service at the event. Traditionally, Apple has held the event in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco; the Yerba Buena’s calendar shows an event scheduled for the 7th in its gallery area, but nothing being held in the theater on that day.

Apple to offer 99 cent TV episode rentals?

Apple is in talks with Fox parent News Corp., along with other media companies, to offer 99 cent TV episode rentals through iTunes. Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the plan, reports that users would have a 48 hour rental window, and that Disney and CBS are also part of the discussions. “This is a smart move by everyone,” said David Bank, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in New York. “Something like this a la carte rental service is an incremental opportunity and it doesn’t upset the existing ecosystem.” The report goes on to reiterate prior reports of a next-generation Apple TV, with a smaller hard drive than prior models that will be priced at $99 and tied into the rental service.

Elgato: EyeTV name stays if Apple TV becomes iTV

Elgato, makers of the EyeTV tuner hardware and software for the Mac, have no plans to change its products’ names despite the possibility of Apple changing the Apple TV’s name to the phonetically identical “iTV.” Engadget has reported that the next-generation Apple TV will see its named changed to “iTV” while undergoing some hardware and software changes. “They don’t see themselves changing the name of the product line,” said a spokesman for Elgato Systems, noting that there are also i.TV applications and the ITV British television network for Apple to be concerned about. “iTV was going to be the original name for the Apple TV,” another Elgato spokesman noted, “I don’t think Elgato said anything about changing the name then… But who knows what Apple have in mind.”

ITV execs ‘furious’ over possible Apple TV name change

Executives for U.K.-based broadcaster ITV are enraged by a report that Apple may change the name of its Apple TV set-top box to ‘iTV’. Earlier this week Engadget reported that the next-generation Apple TV would see its named changed to ‘iTV’—the name it was originally called by—while also gaining some sort of app functionality. While it is believed that the name was scrapped in part due to Elgato’s EyeTV products for Mac, it appears that the name runs afoul of more than just a single product. “You only have to look at recent problems with the iPhone 4 to see not everything Apple produces is gold dust,” an ITV insider told Mirror.co.uk. “We all take our ITV brand very seriously and we’ll do everything in our power to protect it.”

Next Apple TV to be capped at 720p, run apps?

The next-generation Apple TV will be capped at 720p for video output and will be capable of running apps, according to a new report. Without citing sources, Engadget reports that the new device won’t be enabled to handle 1080i or 1080p video, supposedly because the A4 chip can’t handle higher-resolution content — although the report states there is much internal debate going on at Apple concerning this issue. In addition, Engadget claims that the device will be capable of running apps, but it is unclear in what form they would arrive given that the Apple TV lacks a touchscreen interface and other hardware necessary to run certain iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad applications. Finally, the report claims that the next Apple TV will be renamed “iTV,” which was the product’s name when it was first shown in September 2006; it is believed that the name was scrapped in part due to Elgato’s EyeTV products for Mac.

CDMA iPhone, new iPads due in January?

According to a new report, Apple has placed orders for “millions” of Qualcomm CDMA chipsets for a new iPhone production run in December. Citing sources with knowledge of the situation, TechCrunch reports that the production run would likely be for a January launch, with both Verizon and Sprint possible carrier partners. Digitimes adds that Pegatron Technology is expected to manufacture the phone, and that it could end up on China Telecom as well as Verizon. It also expects Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg to announce the device at CES 2011, with units shipping in January.

In the same report, Digitimes claims that Apple will launch an updated 9.7-inch iPad with a new ARM Cortex-A9-based processor and 512MB RAM in the first quarter of 2011, alongside a new 7-inch model sporting the same processor and a 1024x768 IPS display; this matches up with information reported by iLounge last week. Finally, the report claims that a new Apple TV will begin production in December, and will use AMD’s Fusion technology, will lack a hard drive, and will offer an iPhone-like interface with App Store support.

Apple TV headed for major overhaul?

The New York Times reports that Apple is working on a “major overhaul” of its Apple TV product for accessing iTunes media in the living room. The report cites “several people familiar with Apple’s television-related efforts” indicating that the company is working on a significant software update for the Apple TV which will “offer a completely redesigned interface” for the device. The sources note that it is not clear right now whether Apple is planning to create an entirely new product, but also mentioned that the new software design may be based on Apple’s iOS operating system. There are additional reports that Apple has recently hired several user interface and graphic designers with a background in broadcast design for television and that some of the more advanced work on the next version of the device is not taking place within the Apple TV group but rather within an entirely different design group within the company. Those familiar with the company’s plans noted that Apple executives are aware of the challenges in “the battle for the living room” and that the company must “get it right the next time.” [via Mac Rumors]

Next Apple TV to sell for $99, be iPhone OS-based?

The next Apple TV will be based on the iPhone’s operating system and will sell for $99, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous tip which was confirmed by a source “very close to Apple,” Engadget reports that the next Apple TV will share its architecture with the fourth-generation iPhone, including an A4 CPU and a limited amount of storage—16GB, according to the report—while offering full 1080p HD output. The report also claims that the device will be “quite small” and will feature only a power socket and video output for ports, having been described by some as “an iPhone without a screen.” The device is said to be focused on cloud-based storage, with an option to use a Time Capsule as on-site external storage, and while no definitive word was provided as to whether the device will utilize the App Store and its application library, Engadget speculates that such a move would make sense. Finally, the report claims that the new Apple TV won’t be unveiled at WWDC, but that development on the device is “full steam ahead.”

Fire Core releases aTV Flash 4.1, supports Apple TV 3.0.2

Fire Core has released version 4.1 of its aTV Flash software utility package for the Apple TV. aTV Flash allows users to install a number of different software packages—including the Couch Surfer Pro web browser, a RSS feed reader, and support for a much broader set of media formats—on their Apple TV units using a USB flash drive. New in version 4.1 is full 5.1 surround sound support for nearly all media types, including DVD (VIDEO_TS) files, faster web browsing and enhanced Remote app support for the Couch Surfer Pro browser, “much improved” media playback, and compatibility with Apple TV Software 3.0.2. aTV Flash 4.1 is available now for Mac or Windows, requires a 256MB or larger USB flash drive, and sells for $50 with a year of software updates included.

Audio posted of Apple COO Cook at Goldman Sachs Conference

Apple has posted an audio webcast of COO Tim Cook’s recent comments made at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference 2010. During his talk, Cook made a number of interesting comments regarding the Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone. According to Cook, the reason Apple calls Apple TV a hobby is because it’s in a market that’s “very small today.” However, unit sales of the Apple TV grew 35% year-over-year in the December quarter, and the company is “continuing to invest in it” because it believes “there’s something there.” However, Cook contrasted the Apple TV’s hobby status with the iMac, which he believed was a strong product with a bright future ahead; by contrast, the current model for the Apple TV was difficult, because it would seem to lead to an Apple-branded TV, adding that the company has “no interest in being in the TV market.”

Regarding the potential market for the iPad, Cook said he “wasn’t losing any sleep” over possible cannibalization of existing Apple products, and amplified prior hints regarding its value relative to netbooks, saying that he doesn’t think people will want to continue to use inexpensive but disappointing netbooks over time. Having used the iPad for six months, as he explained, the experience was significantly better. As for distribution, Cook said the company will initially sell the iPad in its direct channels, including in Apple Stores, online, and through its education sales force, and in indirect channels where the company has “assisted sales,” including Apple’s “stores in stores” at Best Buy locations and Apple Premium Resellers, all places where the company “has sales people that can answer questions.” He suggested that the iPad could later come to locations without sales assistance, implying that customers will need to be helped through initial experiences with the unfamiliar device. He also described AT&T’s iPad data pricing as “revolutionary,” noting that he wouldn’t want to suggest what competing carriers might have to do to sell the iPad along with AT&T, and later said that he thinks there is a place for both iPhone OS and Mac OS operating systems.

Apple releases Apple TV Software Update 3.0.2 (Updated)

Apple has released Apple TV Software 3.0.1, the latest software update for its set-top box. While the software is available through the “Update Software” feature in the Apple TV’s General Settings menu, Apple’s official Apple TV software update support document has yet to be updated with any information on what, if any, new features or improvements might be included in software 3.0.2. Apple last updated the Apple TV’s software last Novemeber with version 3.0.1, which Apple urged users to install immediately due its containing a fix for a bug that caused content to temporarily disappear until it was resynced.

Updated: iLounge’s editors have tested the latest update and changes appear to be confined mostly to bug fixes and stability improvements. The 3.0.2 update most notably appears to fix some serious HDMI-related issues that appeared in 3.0.1, in which synchronization would occasionally be lost, requiring a reboot of the Apple TV unit. Although some users have speculated that this update may include new features related to Aperture 3.0, we have seen no evidence of this, as the Apple TV continues to work with Aperture 3.0 in much the same way as previous versions of Aperture; no support for Faces or Places, for instance, is offered by the Apple TV after it is updated. However, full compatibility with Aperture 3.0 would likely also require a future iTunes update to implement.

Update x2: Apple has updated its Apple TV software update support document to include details of this latest release. According to the document, Apple TV Software 3.0.2 “includes fixes for Genius playlists, MobileMe gallery photos, iTunes U content, Internet Radio, and other media-related features. The update also includes performance and connectivity fixes for Apple TV.”

Apple rolling out updated iTunes LP/Extras files

Apple has begun sending out emails to customers who purchased iTunes LP or iTunes Extras content prior to the release of Apple TV Software 3.0, informing them that updated files are now available. As Apple revealed in a Support document last week, the new Apple TV software requires updated iTunes LP and iTunes Extras files to work properly. The emails states, “We have updated the iTunes LP that was included with [Album title and artist] so that it can now be viewed on Apple TV in addition to your Mac or PC.” The email includes a direct “Check for Available Downloads” link, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to do so manually. It also notes that the updated files will automatically replace currently existing versions, and that the new files must be synced with the Apple TV.

iTunes LP, Extras getting updates for Apple TV 3.0

According to a new Apple Support document, new versions of previously purchased iTunes LP and iTunes Extras content will be made available for download for use with Apple TV Software 3.0. The document states, “New versions of previously purchased iTunes Extras and iTunes LP content will be added to your download queue, and you will receive an email alerting you when they are available. The content will be delivered to your iTunes application on your computer, and you can then sync it to your Apple TV.” It is unclear what changes are being made to the files in the updated versions, but iLounge editors had noticed problems streaming iTunes LP and iTunes Extras files to the Apple TV; the support doc specifically mentions syncing these files to the Apple TV’s built-in hard drive.

Apple TV 3.0 Update Gallery posted online

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iLounge has posted an extensive gallery showing off the new interface of Apple TV Software 3.0 to our Flickr account. Included are shots of the new main interface, Genius, HD YouTube playback, Internet radio, iPhone/iPod touch Remote control, new fonts throughout the interface, and more.

Apple releases Apple TV Software 3.0 with new interface

Apple has announced the release of Apple TV Software 3.0, offering a number of enhancements, including a redesigned user interface. The new main menu interface spills across the screen horizontally, with menus for Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, and more. As revealed earlier, the software also provides support for Apple’s new iTunes LP and iTunes Extras formats, as well as up to 12 Genius Mixes, Internet radio playback, iPhoto Events and Faces, and more. Apple TV Software 3.0 is available now as a free download via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.

Apple TV Software 3.0 to support iTunes LP, Extras

Apple has updated its iTunes Store Terms, revealing an impending Apple TV 3.0 update that will bring support for the iTunes LP and iTunes Extra formats to Apple’s set-top box. In a brief summary of changes made to the terms, Apple writes, “The Terms of Sale have been revised to clarify that you can now use iTunes LPs and iTunes Extras on Apple TV with software version 3.0 or higher.” Apple last updated the Apple TV’s software in June with the release of software version 2.4, which added support for gesture controls in the company’s Remote application for the iPhone and iPod touch. It also made a change to the device’s lineup in mid-September, killing the 40GB model and dropping the 160GB unit to $229. It is unknown when software version 3.0 will be released.

Apple kills 40GB Apple TV, 160GB now $229

Apple has quietly removed the 40GB Apple TV from its online store, and dropped the price of the 160GB model to $229. The 40GB and 160GB models were previously priced at $229 and $329, respectively; recent reports had noted that the shipping time for the 40GB model was growing abnormally long, indicating a possible upcoming change. Interestingly, this pricing drop comes less than one week after Apple introduced its new iTunes LP enhanced album format, which an in-depth look reveals is formatted for 1280x720 displays, or to the exact dimensions of the 720p HD video format. Furthermore, a separate report found that the iTunes LP content files reference the HTML meta tags “hdtv-fullscreen” and “hdtv-cursor-off,” suggesting that the content was created with HDTV display in mind, and that the Apple TV may see an update that allows it to play iTunes LP content sometime in the near future.

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