Apple has released iTunes 11.3, bringing iTunes Extras for HD movies to the Mac — iTunes Extras has also been added to Apple TV within software update 6.2 for the set-top box. As noted in the release, “iTunes Extras can include behind-the-scenes videos, short films, high-resolution image galleries, director’s commentary, scenes, and more.” iTunes Extras will also be brought to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 8 in the fall. Previously purchased HD content will automatically gain the iTunes Extras content with any additional purchases necessary.
Update: With the update, Apple is changing the way it treats HD video files, as one download now contains all extras, and some movies start by showing users a screen more akin to a DVD menu. A consistent Extras UI works across iTunes, iOS, and Apple TV, sometimes including even more content than was previously available. The Bourne Legacy, for instance, adds 5 additional featurettes to the two originally included. Photos are included after the jump.
Apple has added four new channels to Apple TV: ABC News, AOL On, PBS Kids, and Willow. The ABC News channel features live streams and a variety of shows. AOL On is AOL’s video library service, which also features original programming. PBS Kids features popular children’s television programming — shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, and Dinosaur Train. Notably, PBS Kids requires activation and for users to sign in with Facebook, Google+, or a PBS account, though no cable subscription is necessary. Willow is a cricket channel, requiring a $15/month subscription.
Some users running the newest betas for iOS, OS X, and Apple TV have seen a notification that “Apple TV is now available for Continuity,” according to 9to5Mac. It’s possible Apple TV will gain some parts of the new Continuity feature seen in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, which allows users to see notifications from one device on the other devices, among other options. It seems feasible that Apple TV could at least use Continuity to view incoming call notifications, or to use the Handoff feature to continue watching iOS videos on Apple TV, for instance. Speculating further, this functionality may be compatible with Apple TV to support an app store for the set-top box in the future.
Apple has dropped the price of the Apple TV in European markets. The Apple TV is now €99 in Europe and £79 in the United Kingdom, down from €109 and £99, respectively. In the U.S., the Apple TV remains $99. On Tuesday, a new Apple TV software beta was released to developers — the beta includes the iCloud Family Sharing feature coming in iOS 8. [via 9to5Mac]
The 2014 keynote event at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) begins today at 1PM Eastern / 10AM Pacific Time, and a live video stream of the event will be available at this link and via the Apple Events channel on Apple TVs. A number of announcements are expected today for iOS 8, notably including the health-tracking feature Healthbook, an iOS-centric home automation feature and certification program, as well as further developments of the location-based iBeacons notification service. iOS 8 is anticipated to look largely like iOS 7, but feature a number of under-the-hood performance improvements and feature boosts.
Additionally, the new version of OS X for Macs will be shown, featuring a significant visual redesign akin to iOS 7’s. Well-sourced rumors suggest that Apple will also show new hardware, potentially including new Mac 4K displays, while previously-rumored “in development” products such as a 12” iPad could make appearances as well. Here’s what was actually announced, each with its own full article.
No new hardware was introduced during the WWDC 2014 keynote. iLounge’s editors have released a multi-editorial on WWDC 2014’s iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and more for an opinionated look at today’s announcements.
Apple has added iTunes in the Cloud support for movies and TV shows in Germany, iFun.de reports. TV shows have also been added to Apple TV in the country. Previously, iTunes in the Cloud was only available for music, apps, and books in Germany. At this point, Apple has yet to update its iTunes in the Cloud availability page to reflect the changes. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple may push a number of notable features originally planned for iOS 8 back to iOS 8.1, 9to5Mac reports. Some of these features could possibly include Healthbook, an updated Maps app, a standalone iTunes Radio app, VoLTE calling support, and TextEdit and Preview apps, among other additions. Resources are being allocated to the upcoming OS X operating system 10.10 and other projects, which may be the cause of the delayed push to iOS 8.1 for some features, sources said.
It’s also noted that Apple may give “a larger presence” to OS X operating system 10.10 at its Worldwide Developers Conference over iOS 8. iOS 8 could take advantage of a new processor from Apple, referred to as A8 — the successor to its current 64-bit A7 chip.
The report also notes that though Apple planned to introduce a new Apple TV in the first half of this year, it appears obvious that date has been pushed back. It’s possible that Apple’s discussions with Comcast could have contributed to the delay. Apple is reportedly working on both new hardware and revamped software for the Apple TV, but the two things are “not specifically tied together,” and could arrive at different times.
It’s possible that Siri could appear on Apple TV in the future, judging by code found in the iOS 7.1 SDK. According to 9to5Mac, an SDK file showing which platforms are compatible with Siri uses the number 3 as an identifier — the number 3 internally represents the Apple TV family in such cases. The code is present in iOS 7.1 and 7.1.1, but not in iOS 7.0.6. It’s possible Apple could introduce Siri in the rumored upcoming version of Apple TV.
Apple has added three new channels to Apple TV: A&E, The History Channel, and Lifetime. All three channels from A+E Networks require a cable subscription for full access — currently, only DirecTV, Cablevision Optimum and Verizon FiOS subscribers can gain access to all included content.
The networks are home to popular shows like Storage Wars, Duck Dynasty, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers. Recently, the A&E and History iOS apps were both updated to offer live streaming TV.
At a media event today, Amazon introduced Amazon Fire TV ($99), a streaming box designed to compete with Apple TV. Citing search, laggy performance, and closed ecosystems as issues with similar products on the market, Amazon’s Peter Larsen says the company sought to address those issues.
The box has a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for fast downloads. Larsen claims it’s three times as fast as Apple TV and other boxes. Many apps are supported, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and of course, Amazon Prime. The included remote control supports voice search with a built-in microphone. fireTV also supports games with the physical remote, an upcoming app, or the Fire game controller ($40). It’ll begin shipping today.
Apple is talking with Comcast about working together on a streaming television service that would use an Apple set-top box like Apple TV, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal would use Comcast’s cables to bypass web congestion, sources said. Using Comcast as a partner would, ideally, prevent buffering and other service issues that often plague streaming web video. Apple seeks to let users stream live and on-demand TV shows stored in the cloud, thus replacing a traditional cable box.
The report claims that at the moment, Apple and Comcast “aren’t close” to an agreement. Comcast would have to make “significant investments” in network equipment and other technology, while the two companies seem to disagree on which would control customer data — Apple wants people to sign on to the device using its Apple IDs, and the company is asking for a cut of the monthly subscription fees paid by customers. It’s noted that Apple was working on a deal with Time Warner Cable since mid-2012; Comcast’s deal to acquire Time Warner is currently being reviewed by regulators.
Apple has added an ACC Sports channel to Apple TV. The channel offers game highlights, interviews, insider reports, player profiles and more on Atlantic Coast Conference athletics.
NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament previews are also included in a Campus Insiders section. Like other recent channel additions, the ACC Sports channel appears automatically on the main page without a software update.
Along with today’s release of iOS 7.1, Apple has released a software update for Apple TV. In addition to other changes, version 6.1 of the Apple TV software now allows users to hide channels from the main menu. The changes can be made in Settings > Main Menu, or straight from the main menu by holding down the center button and pressing play.
The tweak should make it easier for users to navigate the main menu by hiding the channels to which they have no access or interest. We’ll update with any other significant findings.
Apple added an iTunes Festival channel to Apple TV this weekend, ahead of its upcoming SXSW concert series. While SXSW kicked off March 6, the iTunes Festival will begin Tuesday with Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and London Grammar. Other acts to perform at Apple’s first U.S.-based iTunes Festival include Kendrick Lamar, Willie Nelson, and Soundgarden.
The channel will stream the concerts live when the festival begins. But for now, the channel only has basic information about the performers and the festival, with links to the musicians’ albums in iTunes.
Speaking at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple TV made more than $1 billion of revenue in 2013. Cook has often referred to the set-top box as a “hobby,” but said today, “It’s a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days.” The news comes amid a recently announced deal on current Apple TV models that has fueled speculation regarding an upcoming Apple TV hardware update. Cook also said during the meeting that 40 billion iMessages are sent daily, along with 15 to 20 million FaceTime calls. [via Reuters]
Apple retail employees have been told that anyone who purchases an Apple TV from Apple will receive a free $25 gift card starting today and ending March 5, iLounge has confirmed. Atypical for Apple, this promotion increases the likelihood that new Apple TV hardware is on the way in the near future.
Apple typically offers such deals to clear inventory before the release of a new product, so it’s possible a new Apple TV will be on the way in March or April. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has added a new TV4 Play channel to Apple TV in Sweden. Swedish network TV4 announced the addition to Apple TV, along with pricing tiers and features.
For free, users can can watch some live broadcasts, and shows for 7 days after broadcast. A premium tier adds some live sports and removes commercial breaks, while the premium sports tier adds even more live sports, including the Swedish Hockey League and various world soccer leagues. [via 9to5Mac]
As expected, the WWE Network has launched on Apple TV today. The new network from World Wrestling Entertainment can be purchased with an iTunes account.
It costs $60 for a six-month WWE subscription on Apple TV, as opposed to $10 per month on other platforms. WWE Network features streaming content 24/7, and offers access to all live WWE pay-per-views in addition to a library of on-demand content.
Apple attempted to license TV programming for its own service before turning its attention to negotiating with existing TV distributors, the Wall Street Journal reports. A source said Apple could try seeking rights to programming directly in the future, however. A report from Wednesday noted Apple was negotiating with Time Warner Cable to add content to the device, but today Comcast has announced a deal to purchase Time Warner Cable in an all-stock transaction for $45.2 billion, pending regulatory approval. It’s unknown what the merger might do to the negotiations with Apple, but Wednesday’s report noted Apple was having trouble negotiating with Comcast. It’s also unclear whether Apple anticipated the merger. The WSJ reports the Apple TV could come “as early as June,” with one source saying it could be later. Wednesday’s report noted the device could be announced in April for a holiday release.
Apple will introduce a new Apple TV set-top box “as early as April,” according to Bloomberg. However, Bloomberg also claims Apple is “aiming to have the device available for sale by the Christmas holidays,” though the release date could change pending distribution and programming negotiations. The report notes Apple is working on a deal with Time Warner Cable and other partners to add video content to the device. Such a lengthy amount of time between the announcement and release date would differ greatly from Apple’s usual protocol, especially for an upgrade of an existing product.