In order to give developers a chance to develop Apple TV applications in advance of the public release of the new set-top box, Apple is making a limited number of Apple TV Developer Kits available to registered Apple Developer Program members. To qualify, developers must already be members of the Apple Developer Program, must be located in one of 22 specific countries and must register to request a kit by Sept 11 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The kit includes the new Apple TV, Apple TV Remote, Power cord, Lightning to USB Cable, USB-A to USB-C Cable, and documentation. Apple notes that due to limited availability, priority will be given to teams that already have apps on the App Store, and developers will be notified of whether or not they have been selected beginning on Sept. 14.
In addition, Apple has already posted developer documentation on building apps for the new Apple TV as well as downloads and release notes of the new tvOS beta. Of particular note is that “the maximum size of an Apple TV app is limited to 200MB. Anything beyond this size needs to be packaged and loaded using on-demand resources.”
Apple today debuted its long-awaited next-generation Apple TV set-top box, incorporating what the company calls a “new foundation for TV” consisting of more powerful hardware, a modernized operating system, a completely revamped user experience and a development framework and App Store for facilitating third-party apps. The new Apple TV will include a remote that includes a glass touch surface and Siri support for interacting with the TV user interface. Users can swipe to navigate through menus, or give a wide variety of Siri voice commands to search for and play content, look up information, and navigate the Apple TV. A new Universal Search feature allows users to find content across multiple sources — currently iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Showtime — as well as searching with Siri for content by type (“action films”), actor, or even guest star.
When viewing content, users can also click and swipe to scrub through a show with thumbnails preview images shown on the scrubber bar, or use Siri commands such as “skip ahead 7 minutes” to go forward, or “what did she say?” to skip back 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions. Contextual information can also be looked up when watching a movie or TV show by issuing Siri commands such as “Who stars in this?” to see cast information, or even non-contextual information such as sports scores or weather. A notification overlay appears to provide information without taking the user out of the current video, and users can either dismiss or swipe up to pause playback and show more detail.
Ahead of what 9to5Mac believes will be Apple’s only event this fall, the site’s sources have spilled more last-minute details about the company’s new products. Contrary to previous rumors that had the iPad Pro starting at 64GB of storage, the new device will reportedly start at a base 32GB storage capacity — still double that of current iPad base models — priced at $800. 64GB and 128GB models are expected to cost $900 and $1,000, respectively, and LTE-capable models will tack on another $130 — bringing the total cost for a top-of-the-line iPad Pro to $1,130, just under the base price of a new Retina MacBook. In addition to camera upgrades, all-new “3D Touch Display” screens, improved A9 chips and more efficient wireless systems, the new iPhones are expected to feature always-on Siri functionality, allowing users to activate Apple’s personal assistant simply by saying, “Hey Siri” at any time. Current iPhone models have to be plugged into a power source to activate that feature.
The fourth-generation Apple TV is getting software upgrades too, expected to run a new iOS 9-based system appropriately named “tvOS.” While based on the current Apple TV OS, the new system reportedly includes plenty of new elements from iOS 9 and El Capitan, including enhanced transparency effects. And finally, although Apple Watch isn’t expected to get a second-generation version this year, the company is expected to debut new gold color options and bands at today’s event — a PRODUCT(RED) Sport band box has already been posted on Twitter — as well as possible announcements about the company’s collaborations with popular fashion brands. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 EST) today.
Twitter’s Periscope team has been secretly building an Apple TV app, TechCrunch reports. With Apple expected to unveil a new Apple TV set-top box tomorrow that includes an App Store (yet no official third-party SDK has been released), it seems Apple has approached some third-party developers quietly, in much the same way as the company handled its initial HomeKit rollout. Sources for the report confirm Periscope will be one of the first apps to debut for the new Apple TV, and although the specific functionality of the app has not yet been revealed, it seems likely that it will be focused on allowing viewers to watch Periscope streams on the big screen.
CBS announced it will stream Super Bowl 50, four NFL playoff games and and two regular season games through its CBS Sports app, available on Apple TV and several other platforms. The live streams are available for free and won’t require authentication to be viewed. The October 4 game between the Jets and Dolphins in London will be the first to stream live, followed by the November 26 Thanksgiving Day game between the Panthers and Cowboys. All of CBS’ AFC playoff coverage will be streamed as well, including Wild Card, Divisional, and Championship games.
The fourth-generation Apple TV will have a faster processor, but will lack support for 4K video streaming, 9to5Mac reports. Sources said the new Apple TV will contain the A8 chip found in current iPhones — making it much faster than the previous Apple TV model — and run an iOS 9 core capable of reducing the size of App Store apps and improving load times for gaming. But even with all its hardware upgrades, the new Apple TV won’t feature 4K support for content streaming or AirPlay and sports the same HDMI and USB ports as the current Apple TV box. There is still speculation about whether the new Apple TV will feature the same 8 GB of internal storage as previous models, with sources saying Apple has considered making a 16 GB model the new standard — or at least offering a model with 16 GB of storage for a slightly higher price. Either way, sources seem to agree that some model of the new set-top box will start at $149.
The device’s motion-sensitive metal remote control will now come in a black/gray color, as opposed to the silver remote found with past Apple TVs. A Siri and Home button will be found beneath a touchpad, with rocker buttons on the side that may act as volume controls.
The fourth-generation Apple TV will cost $149 and feature a universal search, enabling users to enter the title of a movie or TV show once and view results from multiple sources, BuzzFeed reports. Sources familiar with Apple’s plans said the universal search feature is the cornerstone of the new Apple TV, finally providing for searches across multiple streaming services and the iTunes Store. Users will also be able to run more targeted searches, or search by specific actors or directors. Sources said the new search incorporates Siri, as well as features once provided by Matcha — an iOS app that searched for available content from streaming services, TV providers and digital stores like iTunes and Amazon before being bought by Apple in 2013 and shut down. Matcha’s functionality has resurfaced in the new Apple TV, addressing a long-standing user complaint that the search methods on previous Apple TV models are frustrating and not intuitive.
Anticipation is building for Apple’s new, feature-packed Apple TV, and the new set-top box will also feature Bluetooth controller support, according to 9to5Mac. Apple TV will support certain third-party Bluetooth controllers, in addition to coming with its own motion sensitive remote that can be used as a game controller. We’ve been expecting such capabilities to be included in a new Apple TV for a few years now. The new set-top box will support Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11ac wireless standards. This new report also claims Siri will not just be a feature, but a “main focus” of the new Apple TV, allowing for much easier navigation of the device.
The fourth-generation Apple TV will cost less than $200 and is on pace to be available in October, 9to5Mac reports. Sources say Apple executives haven’t finalized the price, but that it will likely come in somewhere between $149 and $199, either of which will make it more expensive than the $99 starting price asked for the third-generation Apple TV when it launched in 2012. Apple plans to keep the third-generation model available — it’s now priced at $69 — to compete with similar products from Roku, Google and Amazon. The new Apple TV is expected to be introduced at Apple’s September 9 event and the new set-top box is said to include new features like Siri integration, a motion-sensitive remote, and a drastically redesigned user interface.
Apple will be discontinuing support for another series of its older products, which are being moved to “Obsolete” status as of September 8th, 9to5Mac reports. According to internal documents from Apple, the report notes that the original first-generation Apple TV, fifth-generation iPod nano, second- and third-generation iPod touch, and third-generation iPod shuffle will be designated as “Obsolete” in Asia-Pacific/Canada/EU/Japan/Latin America and all Apple Retail Stores, while these models will be designated as “Vintage” in the U.S., where Apple is still required to provide hardware service for a longer period of time as required by California law. The iPod classic and third-generation iPod nano will be declared as “Obsolete” in all markets. Apple typically declares products “Vintage” when they have not been manufactured for more than five years, but less than seven. “Obsolete” products are those that have not been manufactured for more than seven years.
Apple’s signifcant update to its upcoming Apple TV set-top box is expected to feature some significant user experience improvements, according to a new report by TechCrunch. While many of the details such as the inclusion of Apple’s A8 processor, a touch-based remote, and an SDK for developers to take advantage of have already been revealed previously, this latest report suggests that all of this will combine to create a vastly better user experience from the current three-year-old Apple TV platform.
The new remote is expected to be larger and thicker, including a Touchpad area at the top and a microphone for Siri, confirming earlier reports — however, new information reveals that the remote will also be motion sensitive, “likely including several axis’ worth of sensors that put its control on par with a Nintendo Wii remote.” This suggests that the new Apple TV remote could effectively double as a game controller. The report also suggests that Apple will be get more performance out of the A8 CPU as it will not have to contend with battery life concerns from a device that is plugged into a wall, and will thereby be able to support an updated user interface that will provide “much better effects and navigational improvements” which will be particularly appreciated by users with large libraries. Sources indicate that the new experience is expected to “blow away” existing television and home media interfaces, describing it as the “first real Apple TV product.”
Pricing remains a major sticking point in Apple’s negotiations with content providers for its proposed subscription television service, according to a new report from The Information. Although Apple had been planning to unveil a new TV service as early as this fall, and was reported to be making progress in negotiations in June, more recent reports have indicated that the service isn’t expected to debut until 2016, citing talks that have been progressing more slowly than expected.
This latest report provides some insight, indicating that the major sticking point in negotiations is Apple’s desire to hold consumer pricing to roughly $40 per month, which is said to be considerably less than the media companies want to license their TV content to the service. This echoes similar difficulties Apple had in negotiations with record labels last fall, with Apple eventually capitulating. Despite the uncertain future of a television subscription service, Apple still plans to debut new Apple TV hardware in September, but will likely focus on integration with HomeKit and security. [via AppleInsider]
A new report from Bloomberg has confirmed an earlier report at the end of last month stating that Apple’s planned subscription TV service will be delayed into 2016. While the report notes that the company had wanted to introduce the service this fall, source familiar with Apple’s plans note that talks with TV networks such as subsidiaries of CBS and 21st Century Fox are progressing more slowly than expected. Further, Apple is apparently still working to build the network capacity to “ensure a good viewing experience.” As a result, Apple has reportedly canceled its original plan to announce the service in September with the beginning of the new network TV season, although the company is apparently still on track to introduce the rumored new Apple TV set-top box at the event.
In a recent interview with Wired, Apple’s Jimmy Iovine has hinted that the company may be looking to extend the human curation aspect of its fledgling Music service into its TV efforts. Rumours of Apple’s plans to introduce a streaming TV service appeared earlier this year and have gained traction with subsequent reports that company has been trying to take a more unique approach by pushing for local content to distinguish itself from competitors. Apple has similarly tried to distinguish its new Music service from rivals by lauding its “human curation” approach, so it stands to reason that it may be looking to apply this approach to television content as well.
In the interview, Iovine specifically states, “We all know one thing, we all have different television delivery systems, don’t we all wish that the delivery systems were better, as far as curation and service?” and touches on Netflix breaking new ground with original content. Iovine goes on to suggest that a company needs to “dig in and really help the customer” and that entertainment needs to “live and breathe.” He notes, however, that he has his hands full with Apple Music, and would likely not be the one to spearhead such an operation on television side of things. Apple’s subscription television service, originally expected to launch as early as this fall, now appears to be pushed back until early 2016 as Apple continues to work out licensing deals for the service.
Apple is on track to unveil its new Apple TV hardware this September, according to a new report from BuzzFeed News, however the rumoured TV subscription service won’t be accompanying it just yet. Several reports suggested that Apple originally planned to launch the new device at WWDC this past June, but refocused its efforts on Apple Music instead. A fall launch of the new hardware comes as little surprise, however there were expectations that Apple would launch a TV subscription service at the same time, however this latest news echoes a report from early June that suggested that it could easily be delayed into next year due to delays in finalizing licensing deals. The next-generation Apple TV is expected to be announced during the fall iPhone event and remains in line with what previous rumours have indicated, with a new, slimmer design and an Apple A8 CPU, a “drastically improved” remote with touch-pad input, Siri support, and an App Store and SDK to provide support for third-party apps.
While Apple has been expected for some time to release a new Apple TV with a remote that would reportedly incorporate a touchpad, a new patent revealed by Patently Apple suggests that Apple may be looking to go a step beyond a simple touchpad with an integrated Touch ID sensor. While the patent itself remains broad, referring simply to a “sensor configured to detect a biometric characteristic of a user,” a fingerprint appears to be the element highlighted in the main drawings, and the text suggests that biometric authentication could be used both for authentication to access secure features such as parentally locked content, as well as identifying a user to select a specific viewing profile such as favorite channels. With the Apple TV being positioned as a hub for Apple’s new HomeKit home automation service, the sensor could also extend to home applications, again both for security and customization.
Apple’s negotiations to add all four major broadcast networks to its proposed streaming TV service are gaining momentum, the New York Post reports. Sources say ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are close to gaining the rights to negotiate on behalf of affiliate stations to deliver local live TV feeds to users of Apple’s subscription TV service. Obtaining local programming has been a main goal for Apple to set the service apart from other cord-cutting options. Networks are reportedly offering affiliates like Tribune and Sinclair a cut of the profits to opt in and offer their feeds. Disney or CBS are expected to be first in line to sign a deal to anchor Apple’s TV bundle, but Apple’s insistence that TV partners give up 30 percent of the fee for subscriptions sold in the App Store is still a sticking point. Agreements already in place to prevent networks from charging some distributors less than others and details over the inclusion of cable channels like Discovery and ESPN are also still points of negotiation. Sources say Apple is still hoping to launch the service this fall despite holding off announcing the product at this year’s WWDC. “The platform is ready and it rocks,” a source told the Post.
Also of note in the report: Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP Eddy Cue were recently spotted talking to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, leading some to speculate on an Apple TV “NFL offering.” Though completely speculative, it’s unclear what such an offering would be, considering the NFL’s new eight-year deal with DirecTV — that deal continues to give the satellite provider the exclusive right to air out-of-market NFL games.
Confirming reports from last month, Showtime’s standalone channel launched today on Apple TV. Unlike last year’s addition of Showtime Anytime – which requires a traditional cable subscription to access content — the standalone Showtime channel will make the network’s offerings available for non-cable subscribers for $11 a month, undercutting HBO’s $15-a-month charge for the similar HBO Now service. Like HBO, Showtime is offering a 30-day free trial to attract users and is launching its channel on Apple TV before expanding to other platforms. A Showtime app for iOS isn’t available yet, but should be available soon.
Update: The Showtime iOS app is now available, as well.
A new report from The New York Times has thrown cold water on the collection of reports suggesting that a new Apple TV would debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) next week. According to “people briefed on the device,” Apple had considered announcing the new Apple TV as recently as mid-May, but has now decided to delay the announcement as the product is “not ready to be demonstrated.” The report goes on to note that in addition to possible delays with the hardware and developer tool kit, Apple’s content deals for a new streaming television service may also not be ready for an announcement at this time. Plans for the new set-top box appear to have been merely delayed, however, and Apple still seems to be actively pursuing the release of new Apple TV hardware with a new app platform to go along with it.
CBS Corp. is expected to very soon announce a deal to bring a standalone version of Showtime to Apple TV, Variety reports. The move to provide a broadband-only option for accessing Showtime content follows the HBO Now roll out to Apple TV back in April, although the pricing and official name for Showtime’s new service is still unclear. Apple is an exclusive partner for HBO Now’s $15-a-month standalone service for the time being, but industry sources say CBS will be expanding its independent Showtime offering to other partners shortly after announcing its deal with Apple.