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Apple releases first tvOS 9.1 beta

Now that the new fourth-generation Apple TV has been released to the public, Apple has begun its first developer beta cycle for its new tvOS operating system, releasing the first beta of tvOS 9.1 to developers today. With a build number of 13U5061d, the release notes identify a focus primarily on UI and networking issues, as well as fixes for developers testing Apple TV apps in the simulator. As with iOS developer betas, the beta versions of tvOS are intended for installation only on devices that have been registered with the Apple Developer Program; it is unclear whether Apple will be running a public beta of tvOS at this point as it has with iOS and OS X betas.

Apple TV: Plex now available, Top Charts come to App Store

Plex has released its very popular media streaming client for the new Apple TV, providing users of the new set-top box with the ability to legitimately access and stream their content from their Plex media server to their television. Although Plex has been available on other media streaming platforms for several years, the lack of an App Store for the Apple TV has forced many users to either AirPlay content from the Plex iOS app or resort to out-of-the-box hacking methods to present Plex content by taking over an existing Apple TV channel. The Plex app is free in the App Store and requires that users update to the latest Plex media server software on their NAS device or computer. Additional details can be found on the Plex blog.

In addition, Apple has added top charts categories to the Apple TV App Store, including “Top Paid”, “Top Free”, and “Top Grossing” apps. The Top Charts can be found on the top menu bar between Featured and Purchased. Top Charts appear to only be available in the U.S. App Store at this time; it’s unclear when they will be appearing in other countries.

Amazon to make call on Prime Video support on new Apple TV

Apple has told BuzzFeed News that support for Amazon Prime Video on the Apple TV is solely up to Amazon, claiming that “all are welcome” on the new Apple TV platform, suggesting that Apple hasn’t done anything to discourage Amazon from releasing its own Prime app for the new set-top box in the same manner as any of the other third-party streaming apps now available. Reports earlier this month indicated that Amazon would be banning the sale of the Apple TV from its online store, and this continues to be the company’s policy despite the new Apple TV providing support for a potential third-party Prime app. Amazon has reportedly not submitted an app for the new Apple TV, and a spokesperson for the company told BuzzFeed that they don’t “have anything to share” on the topic, suggesting that Amazon will likely remain the one major holdout on Apple’s new and more open media platform.

Apple TV: Unboxing + comparison gallery

We’ve received the new Apple TV and have posted unboxing photos of Apple’s latest set-top box. We’ve also included a few shots comparing the new Apple TV to its predecessors, the third-generation Apple TV and the now classic original first-generation Apple TV. Look for our full, independent, comprehensive Apple TV review on Monday.

Siri for Apple Music, BBC iPlayer coming to Apple TV next year

While Apple Music will be available on the new Apple TV early next week, the ability to use Siri to search Apple Music won’t be available until early next year, according to Buzzfeed News. The new set-top box already incorporates Siri voice search commands for finding video content — even across multiple platforms — but it appears that this won’t be enabled for Apple Music out of the box. Considering that Siri can already be used with Apple Music on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, this seems like an odd omission and suggests that Apple’s resources have been stretched thin in getting the new Apple TV ready for release.

Apple Stores to start selling new Apple TV this Friday

Employees have confirmed that Apple Stores will begin selling the new Apple TV on Friday, 9to5Mac reports. Apple Stores are already receiving shipments of the new devices and stores will be reorganized Thursday night to begin promoting sales on Friday. Earlier in the day Best Buy announced it will begin selling the device in its stores on Nov. 4.

Best Buy taking preorders for new Apple TV

Best Buy’s U.S. website is now accepting preorders for the new Apple TV, listing a release date of Nov. 4 for in-store pickup and offering free shipping for those who don’t want to visit a store. Users of Best Buy’s Canadian site are still only seeing the third-generation Apple TV listed for sale. The new device went on sale for both U.S. and Canadian users on Apple’s own website Monday, with the earliest possible arrival date listed as Oct. 30 for those opting for expedited shipping. Apple hasn’t informed customers when the new devices will be available for purchase in Apple Stores.

New Apple TV now available from Apple’s online store

The new Apple TV went on sale this morning on Apple’s online store, as expected. Orders placed today may arrive as early as Oct. 30 with the fastest shipping selection. The 32GB model costs $149 and the 64GB costs $199. Both versions come with the Siri remote, Lightning cable, and a power cord, but users will still need to buy an HDMI cable separately.

Apple opens tvOS App Submissions

Apple has sent out an email to registered developers announcing that it is begun accepting submissions of third-party apps for the new Apple TV. The email explains that developers will need to build their apps and games using the newest Xcode 7.1 GM, which includes the tvOS SDK, and test them on the tvOS GM seed. This requirement suggests that only developers that have received a new Apple TV as part of the Apple TV Developer Kit will be able to build and submit apps at this point. Apple also notes that it has updated its App Review Guidelines for tvOS. Additional details on building and submitting apps for tvOS can be found on Apple’s tvOS Developer Page.

Apple TV available for pre-order Monday, ships later next week

During a wide-ranging interview with The Wall Street Journal interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said users will be able to pre-order the new Apple TV starting Monday, with the devices set to start shipping later next week. Touting the new device’s ability to search across multiple streaming services and interact with apps, Cook said the company has “developed an infrastructure to fix [a] terrible broken thing that none of us like.” Although Apple hasn’t yet secured all the deals it will need to start its own streaming TV service, Cook said the new Apple TV lays a foundation for changing the TV experience away from “linear viewing,” which has outlived its usefulness. (Cook didn’t mention a similar firm release date for the upcoming iPad Pro.)

CBS CEO Moonves optimistic but noncommittal on Apple TV deal

CBS CEO Les Moonves is confident that the broadcasting company’s discussions with Apple will lead to a deal, Bloomberg reports, although he’s making no predictions as to when this will ultimately happen. Moonves acknowledged that CBS has had conversations with Apple, “as have the other networks,” and says that he “probably” thinks something will happen, but stated, “I do not know when.” Apple is also not the only player in the game, as CBS has been having similar discussions with companies such as Facebook and Netflix about rights for stream live broadcasts. While Apple had originally hoped to launch a streaming television service as early as this fall, it has delayed into 2016 as a result of discussions with various content providers taking longer than expected.

Apple TV, iPad Pro to be sold online in late October, in stores early November?

Apple will begin selling both the Apple TV and iPad Pro online in “late October” according to a new report from 9to5Mac. Citing reliable sources, the report notes that both devices are not scheduled to arrive in Apple retail stores until early November, but that they would be available online in late October. It’s unclear whether this would be for online preorders or whether the units will actually ship before the end of October, however. Apple previously set a November release date for the iPad Pro and a late October release date for the new Apple TV, although no mention was made of online vs. retail availability at that time. We’re still waiting to see if Apple announces a set release date in the near future for either device.

Apple releases fourth iOS 9.1 beta, third tvOS beta to developers

Less than a week after the last iOS 9.1 beta release, Apple has now released a fourth beta of iOS 9.1 to developers. iOS 9.1 appears to be primarily focused on adding developer-level support for features such as 3D Touch and Live Photos on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, with this latest beta focusing on fixing a number of issues from prior betas. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.1 beta from Apple’s Developer site; a public version of the beta will likely be following soon.

In addition, Apple has also released a third beta of tvOS for the new Apple TV, intended to allow developers to get a head start on Apple TV App Development prior to the public release of the new set-top box. The tvOS beta is intended only for those developers who have already received a development kit for the new Apple TV, as it only runs on the not-yet-released model.

Apple to open Apple TV’s universal search API to more content providers

Apple plans to expand the new Apple TV’s universal search far beyond its initial launch partners, Buzzfeed reports. Universal search is one of the marquee features in the new device, letting users search once for a term and see results from multiple sources. The feature will support iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, HBO and Showtime when the new Apple TV ships this month, but Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is opening its API so other sources can make their content searchable as well, and he’s confident that providers will be eager to make their services compatible. “I think that many, many people will want to be in that search,” Cook said. “And that’s great for users.” Cook added that the new search will differentiate between paid and free options where users end up having the same content available from multiple sources.

Amazon to ban sale of Apple TV

In a move intended to promote its own Prime Video service, Amazon is banning the sale of competing video streaming devices on its online store, Bloomberg reports. An email recently sent to its marketplace sellers noted that it will no longer be selling Apple TV and Google Chromecast devices; no new listings will be permitted and existing listings will be removed on October 29. In the email, Amazon stated that “It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.” Prime Video is not supported on the Apple TV and Google Chromecast, although of course Amazon’s own Fire TV supports the service, as do other platforms by Roku, Microsoft, and Sony, which will continue to be permitted for sale on Amazon. With the new Apple TV supporting third-party apps, it’s unclear whether Amazon may opt to build a Prime Video app for Apple’s new set-top box platform. Apple’s new Apple TV is set for release this month, but no firm release date has been announced yet.

Apple releases tvOS beta 2 to developers

Apple has released the second beta of its tvOS for the new Apple TV to registered developers, allowing those who have already received a development kit for the new Apple TV to continue getting a head start on Apple TV App Development prior to the public release of the new set-top box. The release notes for the second beta indicate fixes in areas including app launching, Bluetooth, Game Center, home screen, keyboards, media playback, screen savers, and more. The tvOS beta can be downloaded by registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; a new Apple TV is required to run the tvOS beta.

New Apple TV supports Bluetooth headphones, speakers

The new Apple TV supports the use of Bluetooth headphones and speakers, 9to5Mac reports in a hands-on look at the device. While the new model’s Bluetooth capability has already been mentioned in regards to game controllers, the ability to link wireless headphones and speakers will appeal to a broad group of users who want to listen to music or view movies without using their TV’s speakers. Apple has yet to announce a firm release date for the new Apple TV, which the company says will be coming in late October — Apple’s website still just lists the device as “coming soon.”

CBS to bring All Access to Apple TV?

CBS is planning to launch its All Access service for the Apple TV, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, the $6/month All Access subscription service could be coming to Apple TV “in the near future.” The service has just been announced for the Android TV platform, however, a deal could apparently not be worked out with Apple in time for the launch of the new Apple TV. The CBS All Access service provides subscribers with live streaming from local CBS TV stations and on-demand access to a library of 6,500 TV episodes, and is currently available for iOS, Android, and Roku, but remains the one major service missing from the Apple TV platform. In its press release earlier today, CBS did note that support for “additional connected devices” is coming, although no specific platforms were mentioned.

Apple TV games must be playable with included remote

Games made for the new Apple TV must support the device’s included remote, according to the App Programming Guide for tvOS, as pointed out by developer Dustin Westphal in a recent tweet. Although the device will support third-party controllers, those controllers can’t be required to play a game. This represents a change — as recently as last week, Apple allowed developers to require an extended game controller. Apple’s guide also notes “tvOS games that support controllers must support the extended control layout,” and games that support that layout must be playable solely using one standalone controller. All controllers for tvOS games must also have a pause button. [via TouchArcade]

Media player app Plex coming to Apple TV

Popular media streaming app Plex is coming to Apple TV, according to a report from IT World. Plex co-founder Scott Olechowski confirmed that the company is awaiting tvOS developer beta information to work on adapting the app to the new platform. The app — which organizes video, music and photos on a computer and allows them to be streamed to media players, smart TVs and mobile devices — is available on iOS, but has only been accessible on Apple TV through a software hack. While Olechowski declined to give a timeline for Plex’s debut on Apple TV, he said there is no question that it will be possible to run a fully loaded version of the app on the new platform. “Our goal is to enable people to enjoy Plex on the hardware platforms of their choice, and there is no doubt this will be a top platform for us,” he said.

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