Apple executives have recently discussed their vision for the future of TV with media executives at several large companies, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the executives, including Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, outlined new ways Apple could recognize users across various devices, and described potential TV technology that would respond to users’ voices and movements. The report reiterates prior rumors that Apple is working on a TV set that relies on wireless streaming technology to access content, which would use a version of AirPlay to integrate with iPhones and iPads, and might leverage an iCloud-based DVR service which would allow users to watch shows they have saved across different devices. According to the report, Apple’s talks with the media companies have thus far been “vague”, with no proposals made in regards to licensing.
A silent, server-side update to the Apple TV has added on-device TV show purchasing to the set-top box in several countries. Engadget reports that Apple TV users in Canada, Australia, and the U.K. are now able to purchase TV shows on the device, and stream any past TV show purchases directly from iCloud to the Apple TV. The same functionality was rolled out to Apple TV units in the U.S. earlier this year.
Update: The TV Shows menu has since disappeared on Apple TV units set to access the Canadian, Australian, and U.K. stores; it is unclear whether this morning’s appearance was a planned rollout that has been pulled due to a technical issue, a premature launch, or something else entirely.
Update x2, December 16: Apple officially rolled out the feature last night to various international locales.
Apple today released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Support page with details on 4.4.4, so it remains unclear what—if any—improvements or changes the update offers. Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4 is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.
Update: According to Apple, the update “includes general performance and stability improvements, including a fix for an issue that displayed an error when playing some video content.”
Code referencing next-generation versions of the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV has been found in the iOS 5.1 beta released to developers last night. According to a report from 9to5Mac, iOS 5.1 contains references to an iPhone5,1—the iPhone 4S is listed as iPhone4,1—as well as an iPad 3,3, a full number higher than the iPad 2’s 2,x designation. A separate report indicates that iOS 5.1 also reveals the codename for the next-generation Apple TV, which is said to be J33. While such references do indicate that Apple is working on such hardware, they are not indicative of an impending—or even planned—release.
Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.3, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Support page with details on what the update, listed as build 9A405l, offers, but it is likely a bug fix update, given the incremental point increase of the version number. Apple TV Software Update 4.4.3 is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.
Update: According to Apple’s release notes, the update adds support for Netflix in Mexico, and addresses an issue in which audio may not play through the optical port when the TV is turned off.
Speaking during the company’s third quarter earnings call, CBS CEO Les Moonves said that the company turned down a TV offer from Apple. GigaOM reports that Moonves claimed CBS had decided against the offer, which was for an Apple TV service, because it was based on an ad split. Apple had previously been rumored to be working on such a service, although it obviously never came to fruition. According to the report, CBS’ decision on the matter was more philosophical than it was an indictment against Apple, as the company has repeatedly eschewed revenue-sharing agreements in favor of negotiating up-front licensing fees for syndication of its content online.
Apple seeded developers with iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 late last evening, and also added iTunes Match to the second-generation Apple TV under the new main menu option “Music.” According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all subscribers to the iTunes Match beta. Apple had promised to launch iTunes Match by the end of October, but missed its self-imposed deadline earlier this week, and is evident by these new releases, is continuing to test the service ahead of its anticipated wide-scale rollout. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 is available now as a free download from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple plans to use Siri as the primary interface of an upcoming HDTV set, according to a new report. Citing various sources, the New York Times reports that such integration would allow Apple’s TV to bypass the traditional remote control, allowing users to request specific programming—be it on traditional cable or Internet-based content sources such as iTunes, Netflix, or YouTube—and allow the TV set to find it for them, without the need for navigating through channels or directories of content. “Absolutely, it is a guaranteed product for Apple,” one of the sources told the NYT. “Steve thinks the industry is totally broken.” According to the report, which claims Apple still has “quite a bit of work to do” on the project, and may also need to wait on large display prices fall, Apple could announce the product as early as late next year, with an official release coming in 2013.
Jeff Robbin, vice president of consumer applications at Apple and veteran of both the iTunes and iPod teams, is heading the company’s HDTV efforts, according to a new report. Citing three people with knowledge of the project, Bloomberg reports that although it it’s not guaranteed that Apple will release a television, if released, it would likely allow users to seamlessly search for a show or movie, integrating various sources such as Netflix, iTunes, and potentially even cable or satellite, removing the need to check separately for content across multiple sources. Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted to create an “integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” and that it “would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.” ‘“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said. “I finally cracked it.” Robbin was a developer of SoundJam, the program which Apple purchased and subsequently hired him to turn in to iTunes. Apart from his work on the iTunes team, Robbin was also heavily involved in the development of the iPod.
Apple has released Apple TV software 4.4.2, its latest update to the set-top box. Arriving on the heels of last week’s 4.4.1 update, which reportedly “bricked” some units and was pulled for some time, Apple has yet to detail what upgrades or enhancements 4.4.2 might bring with it, but does note in a Support document that Apple TV devices running software version 4.4 and 4.4.1 have an issue with updating software to later versions. According to the document, users may need to go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings before upgrading to 4.4.2, and notes that if you apply the update without resetting all settings first, the updater will do so for you. Once it has been reset, the unit can then be updated via the Update Software option in Settings. “We recognize that this is an inconvenience and apologize,” reads a statement at the end of the page. Apple TV software 4.4.2 is available now.
Apple released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.1 for its second-generation set-top box less than one week after the release of 4.4, only to pull the update—at least on a temporary basis—shortly thereafter. According to Apple’s release notes, the 4.4.1 update “addresses an issue that required a small number of Apple TV units to be connected to iTunes in order to complete the update.” Shortly following the update’s release, some users reported that the 4.4.1 update “bricked” their units, requiring connection to iTunes for a restore, according to Mac Rumors. The update has since been pulled, at least on a temporary basis.
Today’s software update for the Apple TV brought with it two surprising new features: support for NHL and WSJ content. In the release notes, Apple touts the new National Hockey League feature, which offers live games, highlights, scores, and more, as well as Wall Street Journal Live, which offers on-demand streaming of video content from the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the update also brings with it a new interface for movie trailers, which is highly similar to the prior interface for movies. The latest Apple TV Software Update—listed as software version 4.4 (3140) and iOS version 5.0 (9a334v)—is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s general settings menu.
Apple has released its latest Software Update for the second-generation Apple TV. The new update offers support for iOS 5, including wireless display mirroring from the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, Photo Stream support, and improved AirPlay support. The update is available now via the “Update Software” option in the Apple TV’s general Settings menu.
Update: Several iLounge editors have experienced trouble installing the update, with the message “The update was not successful.” appearing on the screen after a lengthy download period. It is unclear whether the problem lies with the update image itself or with some other issue.
References to a third-generation Apple TV have been spotted in the GM version of iOS 5. 9to5Mac reports that deep inside the iOS file system lies a reference to an Apple TV 3,1, which would be expected to represent a substantial upgrade from the current 2,1 model. The report goes on to suggest that such a model could feature an A5 processor to allow for 1080p video output support, and thus merit the addition of 1080p content to the iTunes Store. It is worth noting, however, that new iOS model designations have typically been discovered in code months, if not a full year or more, prior to the actual devices’ releases, meaning that the appearance of evidence supporting a third-generation Apple TV’s existence does not necessarily suggest an impending release.
MacRumors reports that Apple has informed European resellers that the Apple TV will be launching in seven new European countries as of next Tuesday, October 4th. The Apple TV is expected to launch in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
This follows reports of Apple expanding the iTunes Store in Europe, specifically bringing movie sales and rentals to additional European countries. The release of the Apple TV in those countries would be a logical progression of the availability of video content from the iTunes Store.
Issues with Netflix’s streaming service continue to hound users of the second-generation Apple TV and some other devices, despite complaints to Netflix and Apple dating as far back as last year. Among the issues being discussed on Apple’s Support boards, in various reports, and by iLounge’s editors and contacts include frequent pauses for buffering which can take longer than the duration of the selected program, complete connection timeouts, and error messages indicating problems loading content or communicating with Netflix. Calls to Netflix support have suggested that Netflix is blaming the issues on ISPs, regardless of the customers’ locations or bandwidths, while the ISPs have typically pointed the finger back at Netflix. Although the causes of these various issues are unclear, what is clear is that the problems appear to be widespread and unrelated to a given user’s location or internet service provider. We’ve reached out to Netflix for comment and will update this entry when we receive a reply.
Have you been experiencing issues using Netflix on your Apple TV? Let us know in the comments below.
Update: A follow-up report from GigaOM indicates that this seems to be the result of a technical glitch rather than an actual policy change, citing an e-mail from Netflix VP of Corporate Communications Steve Swasey in which he stated that “No Netflix member is limited to less than two concurrent streams. A few Netflix members have heard differently from us, which is an error that we are correcting.”
Apple has seeded its seventh beta version of iOS 5 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to registered developers. Listed as build 9a5313e, the release is also available as an over-the-air update for devices running the prior beta, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 7 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has pulled, at least temporarily, all of its 99-cent TV show rentals from the iTunes Store. The option to rent individual TV episodes from participating networks has disappeared from both the second-generation Apple TV and the iTunes Store on the Mac and PC, and, as noted by AppleInsider, Apple has also removed a support document entitled “iTunes Store: How to rent TV shows” from the web, as well as all mention of 99-cent TV show rentals from the Apple TV product page. Apple earlier this month enabled streaming of previously-purchased TV shows directly from the Apple TV, paving the way for such a move; it is also possible that lack of network support for the rental initiative led to its demise.
Apple has released the sixth beta version of its upcoming iOS 5 operating system for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Listed as build 9A5302b and available exclusively to paid iOS developers, the release does not appear to include any major changes from prior versions, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 6 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.