Apple today released iOS 6.1, the newest version of the mobile operating system for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Weighing in at 107 MB, the update can be installed over the air or by connecting to iTunes.
According to the release notes, the update adds LTE support for an additional 36 iPhone and 23 iPad LTE carriers, the ability to purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri, individual song downloads from iCloud for iTunes Match subscribers, and a new button to reset the Advertising Identifier. Interestingly, using Fandango to purchase tickets requires you to have separately downloaded Fandango’s app. An Apple TV update based upon iOS 6.1 was released simultaneously.
A mock-up page found on office supply company Staples’ website briefly advertised the Apple TV for half off, according to a new report, leading to speculation that the retail chain will start selling Apple products—most likely without such aggressive discounting. Other temporary product pages included references to adapters, Lightning adapters, EarPods, and iPad Smart Cases and Smart Covers.
Since the initial report, the test pages have apparently been removed by Staples, but screenshots show the mock-ups. Staples has not carried Apple’s product line, reportedly due to issues in acquiring products from Apple itself. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple TV has added an app for Watchever video service in Germany, according to reports. Watchever is a Netflix-style streaming video service that offers movies and TV series for a monthly fee. This is the first time Apple has added a service to Apple TV that is only available internationally, with the service limited to one country — in this case, Germany. It raises the possibility that Apple could add more smaller, more regional services to Apple TV going forward. [via The Next Web]
The newest Apple TV beta features a Bluetooth menu, and allows wireless keyboards to pair to the second- and third-generation Apple TV, 9to5Mac reports. While Bluetooth chips have been found in Apple TV units since the second-generation model, the hardware capability has been left unsupported by the device’s software. Rumors have suggested that Bluetooth support would be added in an update, however, it has never actually surfaced. With the new beta, users can control the Apple TV without the included remote by using a wireless keyboard, including typing and arrow keys for navigation — however, the update does not yet allow for pairing Bluetooth speakers, a mouse, or Macs.
For the first time, Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly hinted that Apple might be taking active steps towards making a television set, according to quotes from an NBC News interview with Brian Williams. “When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook said, using language that moves beyond Apple’s gentler prior “hobby” and “pulling the string” descriptions of its TV-related initiatives. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.” While it’s possible that Cook was speaking about the existing Apple TV, it would be curious to allude to an existing product in such a way; at the very least, Cook’s comments could suggest a major push, update, or redesign for Apple TV. Cook’s full interview on NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams” airs at 10 p.m. Eastern tonight.
Alongside iTunes 11 and an updated iOS Remote app, Apple today released Apple TV software version 5.1.1 for the second- and third- generation streaming media boxes.
It initially appears that this update is for compatibility purposes only. As with all Apple TV software, version 5.1.1 can be downloaded directly from the Apple TV’s Settings > General menu.
Some Apple TV users are reporting that a recent software update is removing functionality from their set-top boxes. An Apple Support Communities thread with more than 28,000 views and 230 replies highlights the issues — a software update for the second-generation and third-generation Apple TVs is causing a number of reported problems. Some users can’t connect to their network after the update, while others are losing functionality entirely, as the Apple TV displays a blinking light while the TV screen stays black. A number of users are downgrading their software to restore functionality. Apple TV software version 5.1 was released on Sept. 24; the support thread started on Sept. 25. [via Apple Insider]
Apple’s special event at 1PM Eastern today will stream live on Apple TV, as indicated by a new Apple Events icon that is now appearing on the Apple TV home screen.
Apple TV users can click to watch the event, which will introduce the iPad mini and other products. Updated: The event will also stream live on Apple’s website, where it will be viewable via computers, tablets, and pocket devices.
Apple has released an update for Apple TV: version 5.1 (10A406e) follows up on the March 2012 release of Apple TV software version 5.0.
Version 5.1 adds support for Shared Photo Streams, as well as streaming audio content from the Apple TV to AirPlay speakers and AirPort Express wireless routers. A list of new features from Apple’s web site follows after the break.
Apple won’t release a new TV product this year, reports Bloomberg. Seemingly confirming comments attributed to Apple executives by an analyst last month, Bloomberg’s sources note that Apple’s negotiations with cable companies have reached an impasse, with newly-reported conflicts over whether Apple could take sole control over the device’s screen interface software; Comcast reportedly has said no, while Time Warner Cable has been more open-minded. Apple and cable providers also disagree on the possible distribution method of a new Apple TV set-top box, as to whether it should be leased through the providers, or sold directly to customers.
According to The Telegraph, Apple plans on improving its AirPlay technology so that an iPhone, iPod or iPad can connect directly to speakers without use of a Wi-Fi network. AirPlay currently enables iOS devices to wirelessly perform audio, photos, video, and sometimes screen sharing through AirPlay-equipped accessories on the same Wi-Fi network. The report suggests the enhanced feature may solely be for music streaming, rather than for all forms of media, and has been developed under the working title “AirPlay Direct.” It also notes that the new feature could be announced alongside the next iPhone, though no specific products have apparently been signed off on yet. Further, it’s unclear as to whether AirPlay Direct will be compatible with older AirPlay accessories and Apple devices, or possibly require new hardware features such as dual-band Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4/Smart.
Apple has quietly added a new content section to the Apple TV for the upcoming 2012 iTunes Festival in London. The Festival will feature 30 nights of free, live music from more than 60 artists performing at the Roundhouse in London. Apple has already released a universal iOS app for the iTunes Festival providing users with both live streaming of shows and later on-demand viewing, and users will also be able to stream content to iTunes or to the Apple TV via AirPlay from an iOS device or directly within the new iTunes Festival section. Previous shows are expected to be available for only a limited time, and it is unclear for how long the iTunes Festival content will remain available on the Apple TV following the conclusion of the event on September 30th.
During a meeting with analysts, Apple senior vice president of Internet services and software Eddy Cue indicated that the company won’t be entering the TV market in the near future. “Relative to the television market, Eddy Cue, Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services, reiterated the company’s mantra that it will enter markets where it feels it can create great customer experiences and address key problems. The key problems in the television market are the poor quality of the user interface and the forced bundling of pay TV content, in our view,” writes Pacfic Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves, as recounted by Fortune. “While Apple could almost certainly create a better user interface, Mr. Cue’s commentary suggested that this would be an incomplete solution from Apple’s perspective unless it could deliver content in a way that is different from the current multichannel pay TV model[...] Unfortunately for Apple and for consumers, acquiring rights for traditional broadcast and cable network content outside of the current bundled model is virtually impossible because the content is owned by a relatively small group of companies that have little interest in alternative models for their most valuable content.”
Apple’s vision for a set-top box device includes features designed to “simplify accessing and viewing programming and erase the distinction between live and on-demand content”, according to a new report. Citing people briefed on Apple’s plans, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is proposing a system through which viewers would be able to start any show at any time through a device that would store TV shows on the Internet. The report claims that the device will feature an interface that “could resemble the navigation icons” on the iPad, or in other words, very similar to the current Apple TV software. The interface may also offer on-screen space for social media features, and would also enable viewers to access content from the device on other Apple products.
The report goes on to detail some of the challenges facing Apple as it attempts to put such a service together, including apprehension on the part of the cable operators to let Apple gain a greater foothold in the TV market, and the fact that cable operators’ existing rights over TV content are likely insufficient to cover all of Apple’s proposed services, in particularly the Internet-based DVR service. It also states that Apple wants viewers to be able to access all episodes of current seasons of TV shows, instead of only a few episodes of a current season, as is currently the case on many cable operators.
Apple is in talks with some of the U.S.’ largest cable operators about letting an Apple device serve as a set-top box for live television and other content, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that no deal has yet been reached with any of the operators, possibly due to their reluctance to let Apple establish a larger presence in the TV business. Although the report does not state whether the device in question is an iteration of the current Apple TV or a more sophisticated device, it does cite two people briefed on the matter who claimed that the technology could be embedded in a television.
Apple has released the fourth beta version of iOS 6 to developers. As with prior iOS 6 beta updates, beta 4 is available as an over-the-air software update or as a direct download from the iOS Dev Center, and is accompanied by a new beta version of the Apple TV software, as well as an updated version of Xcode and the iOS 6 SDK. The new version is listed as build 10A5376e; it is unclear what changes may be contained in the release. iOS 6 beta 4 is available now to registered iOS developers.
Apple has added a new Hulu Plus app to the Apple TV. The app, which may require a restart before appearing, allows for access to the online streaming video service. As with Netflix, users can subscribe to Hulu Plus directly from the Apple TV using their iTunes account to pay the $7.99 monthly fee; a free one-week trial is currently being offered. Hulu is a joint venture of NBCUniversal, Fox, and Disney, and is also available on Apple’s mobile iOS devices via a free app.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been spotted this week at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, a well-known executive meetup. According to The New York Times, Cook was spotted having coffee with Paul Sagan, CEO of Internet content delivery company Akamai. Cook has reportedly lined up a number of one-on-one meetings with media executives who are also attending the conference, perhaps working on partnerships for a larger move into the home entertainment market. When asked what he was most looking forward to at the conference, Cook replied “all the private discussions I’ve set up this week.” Apple has been rumored in recent months to be working on a TV initiative, possibly including the introduction of an Apple-branded HDTV.
Google today introduced its first self-branded tablet, the Nexus 7, as well as a new Apple TV-challenging device called the Nexus Q. Halfway between the Kindle Fire and the iPad, the Nexus 7 is positioned as a media tablet, featuring a 7-inch, 1280x800 IPS display, a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, NFC support, a microphone, GPS, and the Android 4.1 operating system. It is available for pre-order now, priced at $199 for an 8GB model or $249 for a 16GB unit.
Shaped like an orb, the Nexus Q is akin to a beefed-up Apple TV: powered by dual ARM Cortex A9 CPUs and relying upon 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection, Nexus Q boasts 16GB of flash storage, Bluetooth, NFC support, 32 perimeter LEDs for ambient lighting, Micro HDMI and optical audio outputs. Unusually, it also includes an integrated 25W amplifier with banana jack outputs for connecting directly to speakers, as well as a top-mounted dome volume control. However, Nexus Q’s current software does not appear to have been designed for standalone use, seemingly relying instead upon another Android device running Google Play or YouTube for control; like the Apple TV, a USB port is included solely for service and support. In addition, it allows multiple Android users to add media to the device’s playlist. It is similarly available for pre-order now, and is priced at $299.
Alongside its rollout of the iTunes Store to 12 new Asian countries, Apple today launched the Apple TV in nine new markets. MacRumors reports that the Apple TV is now available from Apple’s online store in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam, and through third-party resellers in Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Macau, and Sri Lanka. Pricing varies by country; the set-top box does not appear to be available in the Philippines, Taiwan, or Thailand, three countries that also saw local iTunes Stores launch today.