Apple TV updated to 5.1, Shared Photo Streams, other features added

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 11:01
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It’s almost never bad to have a spiffy Apple TV update.

Apple on Monday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding the following fixes and changes to its operating system:

- Shared Photo Streams — Accept invitations for Shared Photo Streams, browse photos and comments, and receive notifications of new content.

- AirPlay — Send audio content from Apple TV to AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices (including AirPort Express and other Apple TVs). Also includes the ability to require an onscreen code to use AirPlay with your Apple TV.

- iTunes account switching — Save multiple iTunes accounts and switch quickly between them.

- Trailers — Search movie trailers. In the United States, see show times for local theaters.

- Screen savers — New Cascade, Shrinking Tiles, and Sliding Panels screen savers.

- Main menu— Reorder icons on the second page by holding down the select button on the remote.

- Subtitles — SDH support for the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as improvements to viewing and selecting subtitles.

- Network configuration — Support for setting up advanced network options using configuration profiles.

- Stability and performance — Includes general performance and stability improvements.

Users can now download Apple TV Software Update 5.1 by going into the Settings section of the device, choosing General, and then selecting Update Software.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Hulu Plus quietly appears on Apple TV devices, no update needed

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 06:50
Category: Apple TV, News

Soon you will watch Hulu Plus on your Apple TV.

And it’ll have all the nifty perks of Hulu Plus.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding a new application for the Hulu Plus streaming video service.

The subscription service appeared on users’ Apple TV home screens on Tuesday without the need for a software update. Those who subscribe to the Hulu Plus service can log in to access their account, while new users are offered a free one-week trial.

Hulu Plus joins Netflix, MLB.TV, the NBA, NHL, Vimeo, YouTube, and WSJ Live as third-party content providers available on the Apple TV. They join Apple’s own iTunes content available for sale or rental.

The US$10-per-month Hulu Plus service debuted in mid-2010, offering access to back episodes of popular shows like “Family Guy,” “Modern Family” and “Glee.” Users of the service have previously been able to access Hulu Plus on their iPhone or iPad.

Apple has steadily added new applications to the Apple TV even without the availability of a dedicated App Store, like exists on the iPhone, iPad and even Mac platforms. Streaming MLB and NBA games were added along with 5.1 sound support for Netflix in March of 2011, while NHL games, Wall Street Journal Live, Photo Stream, AirPlay Mirroring and iTunes Trailers were added with a software update last October.

This fall, the functionality of the Apple TV will grow with the launch of iOS 6. Developer previews of the forthcoming software update have the added ability to reorder icons on the Apple TV home screen, much like users can do on an iPhone or iPad. The third iOS 6 beta for Apple TV also added enhanced AirPlay control, allowing users to actively stream audio to external AirPlay-capable speakers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV 5.0.2 update goes live

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 13:28
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Apple on Tuesday updated its Apple TV software to version 5.0.2 for second and third generation units.

Per AppleInsider, the Apple TV Software Update, released as build 9B830, brings unknown fixes to both the second and third generation set-top media streamers. Apple’s support web page has yet to divulge the contents of the update, but a more detailed description should be posted in the near future.

The quick download showed no visible changes to the UI or content meaning that the update may be a fix for backend performance issues or preparation for as-yet unreleased features set to be announced at WWDC next week.

To install the new 5.0.2 version on your Apple TV, navigate to the “Update Software” menu option under Settings > General.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

And if anything caught fire or the dog proposed to the cat as a result of the 5.0.2 update, please let us know in the comments.

Apple TV OS may surface at WWDC

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 06:00
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor, Software

applelogo_silver

Even an HDTV may need its own custom operating system.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple may show off an updated version of its Apple TV operating system at next week’s World Wide Developer Conference.

The new version is expected to be packed with more features, and will be the version of the OS on Apple’s rumored upcoming HDTV, the report says. Apple is reportedly talking to manufacturers about using a new “control out” application programming interface that allows accessories to work with the new Apple TV operating system and television. The idea is to allow users to control any component with an Apple remote.

The article also stated that Apple won’t be showing the HDTV at WWDC. The show is expected to feature an updated version of its iOS mobile platform, and likely the debut of updated MacBook notebooks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple begins manufacturing first batch of HDTV units

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:20
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

applelogo_silver

Apple’s HDTV units might be en route relatively soon.

Per China Business News, Apple this month is reported to have begun production of the first prototypes of its much-anticipated connected television sets at one of its overseas manufacturing facilities ahead of a general production ramp expected to begin late in the 2012 calendar year.

The news, which was attributed to “informed sources”, was picked up and translated by the WantChinaTimes web site earlier on Monday.

In particular, the publication cited its sources as saying that this initial build plan is taking place in one of Foxconn’s Shenzhen plants as a trial production run, which typically produces a small number of assembly-line-quality prototypes for Apple to put through its design test verification stages. No further details were reported.

While Apple’s foray into the big-screen, connected TV business has been a popular topic of discussion amongst industry watchers for several years, few — if any — reliable details surrounding the project have surfaced outside of a claim by the company’s late co-founder Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson that he had ‘cracked’ secret to a simple HDTV.

Jobs’s vision for a connected TV, disclosed vaguely to Isaacson prior to his passing last October, would see the device synced with all of a user’s devices, and with Apple’s iCloud service.

The simplified HDTV would reportedly spare users from having to use complex remotes for multiple devices like DVD players and cable boxes. More specifically, Isaacson wrote in the best-selling biography that Jobs “wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.”

Earlier this month, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said his manufacturing firm was “making preparations” for an Apple television, but development or manufacturing had not yet begun. But days later, Gou issued a statement to reporters in which he backtracked on those claims, stating that “[a]ny reports that Foxconn confirmed that it is preparing to produce a specific product for any customer are not accurate.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV 5.0.1 update, adds HD previews, other fixes

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 06:56
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It may not be the biggest update in the world, but it makes a difference.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday released Software Update Version 5.0.1 for second and third generation Apple TVs, bringing various stability improvements and bug fixes to the set-top media streamers.

The update includes the following fixes and changes:

- Fixing an issue that caused some iOS app to have trouble connecting via AirPlay.

- Improving the reliability of Home Sharing connections; addressing an unspecified issue with Neflix login and navigation.

- Fixes for issues affecting stability and performance.

The software is meant for second and third generation Apple TVs only and can be downloaded on the unit by navigating to Settings > General > Update Software.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Third-generation Apple TV A5 processor studied, second core found

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 07:50
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, News, Processors

This is sort of interesting.

An investigation into the custom A5 chip used in Apple TV has found that the new Application Processor uses both a smaller, more efficient 32nm die process and actually incorporates two cores, one of which is simply turned off.

Per Chipworks, the custom A5 “APL2498″ used in the third generation, 1080p Apple TV has improved upon the 45nm LP CMOS process of the previous A5 “APL0498,” used in both iPad 2 and iPhone 4S last year.

The smaller die size makes the Apple TV’s A5 almost 41 percent smaller than the original part, allowing more chips to be created from a single silicon wafer. That makes producing the part cheaper, and also helps improve performance and lower power consumption (as its components are shrunken down and therefore closer to each other).

In addition to being smaller, Chipworks found that the new version of the A5 actually incorporates two cores. Apple only advertises Apple TV as having a single core chip, so the investigation notes that “either Apple is only utilizing one core or they are binning parts.”

By turning off one core, Apple could reduce the power consumption of a device. However, Apple TV lacks the power constraints of battery-powered mobile devices, making it more likely that the company simply developed a smaller, cheaper version of the A5 and is using the dual core rejects to power Apple TV, where one core is sufficient.

Chipworks explains that such “parts binning is a common process in semiconductors where devices are segregated (binned) based on meeting a subset of the overall requirements, in this case they could disable the ‘bad’ core, this increases the usable die per wafer, lowering the cost.”

Chip makers routinely create CPUs and RAM components and test them for the highest speed they can consistently operate at, selling the fastest parts for more and the slower components for less, rated to work at a slower clock speed.

This strategy would allow Apple to use its poorest performing new A5 chips in the US$99 Apple TV, while creating a new supply of fully functional 32nm A5 chips that are faster, smaller and cheaper than last year’s 45nm batch.

Chipworks notes that these chips could either power a new generation of iPhones (or other devices) or help to reduce the cost of existing products such as the iPhone 4S or iPad 2. The latest third generation iPad uses a custom chip Apple calls A5X, which incorporates the same dual ARM cores but delivers quad-core GPUs to drive its Retina Display, with four times the pixels.

Teardown reveals new A5 processor, second antenna, additional RAM in new Apple TV unit

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 19th, 2012, 07:16
Category: Apple TV, Hardware

It’s the teardowns of new products that make technology interesting.

The new Apple TV unit has gone through a full teardown courtesy of XBMC community member “aiciofs” to discover the following components:

- A custom-built A5 processor that, unlike the A5 CPU found in the iPhone 4S or iPad 2, features only a single processing core.

- 512 MB of upgraded RAM.

- The internal flash memory remains at 8 gigabytes.

- Second antenna (as opposed to the single antenna of the previous Apple TV unit). Its exact purpose is unknown, but it was suggested that the antenna could be to improve Wi-Fi connectivity and speed.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV units disappear from Best Buy web site, speculation as to next-gen units ensues

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 17th, 2012, 05:39
Category: Apple TV, News

When an item disappears from a web site, things get interesting.

Per AppleInsider, retail chain Best Buy is no longer selling the Apple TV on its website, prompting speculation that a new model from Apple is soon to arrive.

Though BestBuy.com carried Apple’s set-top box as recently as the 2011 holiday season, the device was nowhere to be found on the retailer’s website as of early Friday.

When contacted for comment, a Best Buy salesperson was unable to say when exactly the device had been removed from the website’s listings. “I don’t recall seeing them for a while,” he said.

“At this point in time, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting [the Apple TV] back,” the representative said after performing an inventory check.

An user reported having a similar experience on Thursday, noting that a Best Buy employee checked inventory in all stores and found that they were all out of stock. Apple does, however, continue to list the Apple TV as “In Stock” on its website.

The disappearance of the Apple TV from Best Buy’s inventory comes as a surprise because the big-box retailer was one of the first to carry the device when it first arrived in 2007. The original Apple TV got off to a promising start, but the product has yet to become more than a “hobby” for Apple.

Many have speculated that Apple’s plans for expanding its Apple TV platform involve a full-fledged television set. Multiple reports have suggested that the company has begun building prototypes for a connected TV, with one even claiming that Canadian telecoms Rogers and BCE are testing the set in their labs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hints at Apple TV opportunities during Goldman Sachs speech

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, News

applelogo_silver

Sometimes Apple CEO Tim Cook gets coy and drops hints as to cool new Apple products coming down the road.

And that’s generally a good thing.

Per iLounge, Apple CEO Tim Cook made several comments relating to the Apple TV during a speaking engagement at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, suggesting the company sees a larger market opportunity than is being taken advantage of by the current device. Referring to the company’s past strategies, Cook said that Apple typically doesn’t do hobby projects, but suggested that it created Apple TV because it believed that there was something there, and that exploring the potential of a living room product would be useful. The result has been an increasingly popular device that he recommended people should go out and buy right now. However, Cook noted that if Apple “kept on pulling the string”, it would eventually get from the small hobby business of Apple TV to a bigger market opportunity.

Such a suggestion points towards Apple creating a more stand-alone device than a tethered solution such as the current Apple TV units.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.