Apple confirms upcoming fix for Apple TV/HDTV flicker issue

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Date: Tuesday, March 15th, 2011, 08:28
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Following up on Friday’s Apple TV story, a software fix is is said to be in the works for users who have experienced screen flickering issues after updating to the latest firmware for the Apple TV set top box.

Per AppleInsider, an Apple support representative has confirmed that Apple is aware of the issues caused by the latest update to the Apple TV, software version 4.2, AppleInsider has learned. The Cupertino, Calif., company is said to be working on a fix that will address the screen flickering problems for a small number of users.

No timeframe was given for when the fix might be released, but it is a sign that Apple is aware of the problems experienced by some with older high-definition television sets.

Last week, a number of users complained about screen flickering problems caused by the 4.2 update for Apple TV. The problems occur on a variety of TV sets from different manufacturers, affecting major brands including Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Samsung and Toshiba.

Users have experienced flickers and screen flashes with direct HDMI video connections, as well as with an HDMI to DVI video adapter. The problems did not exist before Apple released the Apple TV 4.2 update last Wednesday.

The latest software update added streaming Major League Baseball and National Basketball League games, support for AirPlay wireless streaming in third-party applications, and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound output for Netflix Instant Watch streaming movies. But for some users converting the 720p output of the Apple TV, the software update also caused problems.

The new $99 Apple TV, released last year, does not output video in the 1080i high definition format. But some older HDTVs are only capable of displaying 1080i video.

Some TV sets and receivers will accept a 720p resolution video from a device like the Apple TV, and automatically convert it to the compatible 1080i resolution. While this conversion worked fine for many TV sets before the 4.2 Apple TV update, those with 1080i displays began experiencing the flickering issue after last weeks’ update.

In addition, some users have been unable to change the HDMI output setting on the Apple TV with the latest software update. Affected users said their HDMI output has been set to “Auto,” and their picture has been changed to a non-high-definition 480p picture, which cannot be changed.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV users report screen flickering issue on some HDTV sets after Apple TV 4.2 update

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Date: Friday, March 11th, 2011, 04:24
Category: Apple TV, News

As good as Apple’s intentions might have been, there might be an issue at hand.

Per the Apple Discussions forum, the latest update for the Apple TV set top box has created new issues and problems for some, as numerous users have reported screen flickering with various high-definition TV sets.

A number of users has posted that screen flickering issues that arose after the Apple TV 4.2 update released this week. The problems reportedly occur on a variety of TV sets from different manufacturers.

“There is a flicker (screen flash?) at random intervals of about once per second for a few tenths of a second,” user RamonOC wrote. “And every 10-15 seconds (random), there is a complete video dropout for about a second or two. The audio is OK during all of this. It seems to affect every type of video including both menus and movies, including Netflix and home sharing.”

Owners of TV sets made by Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Samsung, and Toshiba have reported similar issues after installing the 4.2 update. The flickering issue has been reported with a variety of configurations, including with a direct HDMI video connection, or with an HDMI to DVI adapter.

Most of the users who have shared their problems in the forum seem to own older TV sets that run at the 1080i resolution. The new US$99 Apple TV, released late last year, does not support 1080i, but many TV sets and receivers will accept a 720p input and simply convert it to the compatible 1080i resolution.

Conversion of the Apple TV from 720p to 1080i reportedly worked fine for many users prior to the 4.2 update, which Apple released on Wednesday. The software update expanded support for AirPlay, added access to live streaming games from NBA League Pass and MLB.TV, and brought 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound for streaming Netflix movies and TV shows.

In addition to flickering issues, users said they are unable to change the HDMI output setting on the Apple TV after the 4.2 update was installed. For those users, HDMI output has been set to “Auto,” and some have had their output resolution changed to a non-high-definition 480p picture which cannot be changed.

“I contacted Apple Tech Support tonight, and they sent it up to engineering,” user kag49601 wrote. “The tech I spoke with had not heard of the problem yet, but after reading this thread, I am surprised by that… Hopefully we will all get another update to this so we can use our apple tv 2′s with our older TV’s once again.”

If you’ve experienced this issue on your end, please let us know.

Gaming references reported in iOS 4.3 beta code strings, could point towards expanded role for Apple TV

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Date: Thursday, February 10th, 2011, 06:44
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It’s the inadvertent hints that make technology interesting.

Per Engadget, references to gaming and a possible controller for the Apple TV have been discovered in the iOS 4.3 beta code, suggesting that Apple could be planning to take on traditional gaming consoles over control of the TV.

Prior to Apple’s announcement of the new US$99 streaming Apple TV, rumors swirled that the device, which runs a variant of iOS, could gain support for third-party iOS apps in the next revision. Those rumors failed to materialize, but a new report claims to have found evidence of future gaming features for the Apple TV in an iOS 4.3 beta.

The article reports that a tipster has notified them of references to online gaming support in a recent iOS 4.3 beta. “Several references have been found pertaining to “ATVGames” and “ATVThunder” that point to a controller of some sort, leaderboards (think Game Center), a way to schedule games (multiplayer?), and a store front (think App Store, iTunes),” the report noted.

Two strings, “com.apple.appletv.play.live.thunder” and “.play.archive.thunder,” may point to the possibility of streaming games to the Apple TV or archiving them for offline play. The report’s source speculated that “the OpenGL is mature and thoroughly implemented enough that streaming low bandwidth data and computing locally could happen,” though the report was quick to disclaim that there’s nothing in the code to suggest that will be the case.

Two more codenames, Sedona and Flagstaff, named after cities in Arizona, were also discovered in the beta. With references to director, episode and season, Sedona may be a new “video merchandising and streaming” feature, according to the report. The Flagstaff code references “Account Types and Merchants,” but otherwise remains a mystery.

The popularity of games on iOS has contributed to the runaway success of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, while also putting handheld gaming device makers like Sony and Nintendo on the defensive. Apple CEO Steve Jobs boasted in September last year that the iPod touch had become the “world’s most popular game player.”

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told reporters last year that Apple is a bigger threat than Xbox maker and rival Microsoft. Sony and Google will team up against Apple in a new PlayStation Suite for Android platform that will bring PlayStation games to Google’s mobile OS.

According to a December 2010 report by Interpret, Apple’s iOS devices are displacing standalone gaming devices, as the proportion of games played on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP have declined 13% over the last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking to hire two software engineers to expand iOS’ “cloud-based” features

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Date: Wednesday, December 29th, 2010, 04:05
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

When in doubt, there’s always cloud-based services to makes things nifty.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is looking to expand its iOS development team with new employees who will enhance the company’s cloud-based services for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Just before Christmas, Apple posted two new job listings (1, 2) for the title of “iOS Software Engineer.” While the two full-time positions have different job descriptions, both describe an emphasis on remote storage for data access.

“Apple is hiring outstanding operations engineers to deliver and manage the next generation of hosted infrastructure serving Apple products and services,” one of the listings reads. The other says, “Apple is hiring experienced software engineers to work on distributed computing for data with non-trivial properties, and efficient online services for data access.”

One of the positions also seeks a candidate who has “experience developing large-scale offline or online storage systems.” Both positions are based at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus.

Some may view the hirings as further evidence of a cloud-based iTunes or other MobileMe-style services from Apple. The hirings could also be an effort by the company to bolster its new cloud-centric Apple TV, a device that also runs a version of the lightweight iOS operating system.

Numerous reports have indicated that Apple is interested in creating its own cloud-based iTunes service, which could allow users to stream their own music library from any Internet-connected device. It is believed that some of the functionality could come from Apple’s acquisition of Lala.

There’s also an e-mail allegedly sent by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs earlier this month, in which he purportedly said that his company’s MobileMe service would “get a lot better in 2011.” The US$99-per-year Internet-based service is an existing cloud venture from Apple, but a major portion of it, Find My iPhone, became free with the release of iOS 4.2.

Apple’s massive data center in North Carolina was set to launch this year, though Apple has not yet made any announcements for its potential use. But many have speculated that it will be used for cloud computing, perhaps via MobileMe, and streaming services, likely through iTunes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV software update 4.1.1, looks to resolve resolution, download issues

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Date: Wednesday, December 15th, 2010, 06:49
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Late Tuesday Apple released Apple TV software update 4.1.1 for the second-generation Apple TV, fixing some issues with TVs displaying the incorrect resolution and a downloading problem where movies or TV shows are re-downloaded.

Per AppleInsider, the updated comes just weeks after software update 4.1, which added AirPlay support and fixed some performance and connectivity issues.

According to Apple’s support documents, the 4.1.1 update addresses “an issue that causes some high-definition TVs to incorrectly display at 480p” and “an issue that may cause a movie or TV show to be re-downloaded.”

One user commented that installing the update resolved a flickering issue on his TV. “My TV (Fujitsu) 42″ (2004 model) only has a DVI port (no HDMI),” the reader wrote. “I use a HDMI to DVI cable to watch the Apple TV content. Previously, the TV flickered on the top and on the right. After the update, the flickering was gone. The system works perfectly fine now.”

Other users, found that the update doesn’t resolve their issues. Earlier this month, users stated they were experiencing HDMI “handshaking” issues and abnormally long download times.

On the Apple support forum thread detailing the HDMI connection issue, several users assert that installing the 4.1.1 software update failed to resolve their HDMI handshake issues, which cause inverted colors or solid color images.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via the Software Update feature on the set top device. If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, please let us know.

Users report HDMI handshaking, connectivity issues with second-gen Apple TV

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Date: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, 05:32
Category: Apple TV, News

It’s a nifty thing, but perhaps a bug fix is in order.

Per AppleInsider, some early adopters of Apple’s second-generation Apple TV are reporting issues with streaming HD rentals and problems completing “HDMI handshakes” between the new Apple TV and their HD TVs.

Several discussion threads on Apple’s support forums related to issues with HD rentals not loading and HDMI connectivity problems have reached hundreds of posts in length as increasing numbers of Apple TV owners report having trouble with the device.

Users reported that Apple TV displays HD rental wait times of hundreds of minutes, while other video, such as trailers, HD Netflix movies, and YouTube begin playing after just a few minutes. “At one point, the HD movie was going to take over 3,000 minutes to load,” wrote one user.

Though a portion of the users have resolved the issue by upgrading to higher bandwidth Internet, others report the problem occurring even with high-speed connections capable of handling HD video.

Another Apple support thread details potential compatibility issues between Apple TV and a number of HD TV sets. Users report frequent “HDMI handshakes” between the TV and Apple TV, with the picture returning with inverted colors. A user-compiled list of TVs affected includes models by Philips and Sony.

The Apple TV 4.1 firmware update, which was released last week alongside iOS 4.2, does not appear to resolve either issue.

Apple unveiled the revamped US$99 Apple TV in September with a focus on ‘the cloud’ and streaming media. With just 8GB of onboard storage, Apple’s new set top box serves as a hub for content streamed from the Internet, computers, or iOS devices.

If you’ve seen these issues on your end or discovered a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.

Apple posts Apple TV 4.1 update, adds AirPlay, VoiceOver, other features

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Date: Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010, 03:33
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

In addition to Apple’s release of iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices, Apple on Monday also released an update for its Apple TV set top box today, bringing AirPlay support for wireless streaming.

Although the company made no mention of the Apple TV update when announcing the forthcoming launch of iOS 4.2, the software arrived at the same time, around 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern on Monday. Per AppleInsider, the Apple TV software update can be initiated through the device’s settings menu, and is done directly over a wireless or wired Internet connection.

In addition to AirPlay, which will allow streaming of video and audio from iOS devices to the Apple TV, the 4.1 update also brings VoiceOver functionality. The new feature can be turned on through the accessibility menu of the Apple TV.

VoiceOver reads menus and metadata, including episode descriptions for TV shows. In the settings, users can also set the speed of voice playback.

The Apple TV 4.1 software update automatically enables AirPlay without password protection. If users choose, they can turn AirPlay off entirely through the settings menu, or can add a password to limit access.

AirPlay is built in to iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It allows users to stream video or audio content directly to the Apple TV over a Wi-Fi network. Users can also directly stream music to an AirPort Express.

If you’ve downloaded the new Apple TV update and have any feedback, please let us know.

Second-gen Apple TV may be causing video distortion on older TVs

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Date: Monday, October 4th, 2010, 05:54
Category: Apple TV, News

Apple’s long-awaited second generation Apple TV may be spiffy, but there may be bugs to sort out.

Per CNET, the set-top box may cause video distortion and users have reported that the new Apple TV may not be compatible with some television sets only five years old.

User jitterysquid first posted the issue in the Apple Support Discussions board:
“I got my new Apple TV gen 2 today and hooked it up in place of the old one. The picture was wavy. I removed the HDMI switch from the equation, no dice. I swapped cables, no dice.

The only issue I can think of (besides bad hardware) is that I use an HDMI->DVI cable for the last leg to my TV. It’s not a converter, it is fully HDCP aware, and it works fine with ATV G1 and a Roku for Netflix HD streaming.”

Other users have chimed in, stating that they are having the same issues and that a straight HDMI > HDMI cable has not solved the issue. The common theme, though, seems to be the age of the television sets that users are attempting to connect the new Apple TV to–approximately five years or older.

The official tech specs on the new Apple TV on Apple’s Web site read:
“Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI and capable of 720p 60/50Hz,2 including popular models from these manufacturers: Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse”

Though many all of the forum posters claim their televisions are capable of full 720p, there still seems to be an issue. Most users have also reported that the same Apple TV unit works on newer HD TVs they tested. It is possible the issue could lie in a setting on the TV itself. Be sure your set is not configured to stretch incoming signals to 1080i. If so, set it to 720p and you should get a clearer picture.

The other possibility is that the Apple TV software is not sending a signal that is completely usable by older HD TV models. If this is the case, expect Apple to release updates that continue to include television compatibility (along the line of printer driver updates).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Second-gen Apple TV hackable with current tools

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Date: Thursday, September 30th, 2010, 04:02
Category: Apple TV, Hacks, News

Your new Apple TV might be arriving today.

So why not hack it?

Per QuickPWN, a member of the Apple jailbreak blog iPhone Dev confirmed that if you use Greenpois0n and the SHAtter exploit, you can indeed jailbreak the Apple TV’s iOS 4.1 installation. The Dev-Team managed to jailbreak the film rental since Apple having has firmware on its servers.

The greenpois0n update for 4.1 has yet to be officially released, but at present, various how-to Websites show users how to add a multitude of apps and programs such as Sapphire and Boxee to the old Apple TV. With the jailbreak options readily available for the newbie, (as well as the Apple TV’s mini-USB port at your disposal to add external storage), there’s no reason to think that hackers can’t come up with something interesting…

Second-gen Apple TV teardown posted, 8GB flash drive, 256MB of RAM located

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Date: Thursday, September 30th, 2010, 03:33
Category: Apple TV, News

The second-generation Apple TV is almost here and the cool cats at iFixit have posted a complete teardown of the device, which apparently includes a small 8GB of onboard storage and the same 256MB of RAM found in the iPad and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Per the report, the new Apple TV uses a Samsung K9LCG08U1M 8GB NAND Flash chip, which is the same part found during the site’s iPad teardown. The memory is likely used to cache content that is being streamed.

“This is a pretty remarkable amount of storage for a US$99 device,” the solutions provider wrote.

Interestingly, logic board on the hardware shows solder pads that would fit an iPod 30-pin dock connector, perhaps implying what could come in future versions of the hardware.

“This Apple TV seems to be a couple of connectors shy of a full-on computer,” they wrote. “Perhaps this logic board will be used in future iPads?”

Other findings noted that the A4 processor is marked K4X2G643GE, which is identical to the processor found in the first-generation iPad and fourth-generation iPod touch. The iPhone 4, however, has a different chip with 512MB of onboard RAM.

The internal Wi-Fi board is from Panasonic, which might be the first time the company has supplied a Wi-Fi board for an Apple device. Panasonic is, however, usually responsible for optical drives in the Mac maker’s notebooks.

The Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip is the same part found inside the iPad: BCM4329XKUBG 802.11n. It also includes an FM radio, which is not used by the device.

iFixit graded the new Apple TV with a score of 8 out of possible 10 for ease of repairability. The one mark against it is that the electronics are housed on one singular board.

If your new Apple TV has arrived recently, let us know what you make of the device, for better or for worse.