Apple issues refunds for Apple TV pre-orders, cites unknown delay

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Date: Friday, September 24th, 2010, 05:40
Category: Apple TV, News

A number customers who paid Apple for expedited shipping on the soon-to-ship Apple TV are receiving emails from the company Thursday informing them that those shipping charges have been waived due to a possible ‘delay.’

“Our records indicate that when you placed your order you paid for upgraded shipping,” Apple wrote in the emails. “Due to a delay, we may have not been able to meet our delivery commitment.”

Per AppleInsider, the email goes on to say that Apple has “processed a refund for the shipping charge on your order. Please contact your card-issuing bank for information on when the credit will be posted to your account.”

Since introducing the US$99 Apple TV makeover earlier this month, Apple has maintained that the streaming media hub would ship in “September.” Similarly , early pre-orders for the device through the company’s online store have and continued to list their status as “Ships: September.”

As such, it’s unclear whether the emails sent Thursday are a sign that the first Apple TV shipments will fall back to next month, or if Apple can no longer guarantee priority deliveries to those who requested it.

Apple at around 3:00 pm on Wednesday began authorizing the credit cards of those who placed pre-orders for the device, as it did roughly a week (8 days) before the iPad launched back in April.

Introduced at the top of the month, the Apple TV makeover is about 1/4th the size of its predecessor yet supports all the same I/O (HDMI, optical audio, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi) while lacking its built in hard drive.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said Apple designed the new model to put an end to storage concerns. Instead of saving video purchases and rentals to a hard disk, the new Apple TV is based solely on a rental model where video streams live on demand from Apple’s servers.

First-run HDTV movies will fetch US$4.99, while single episodes of TV shows in HD will be available for 99 cents from Fox and ABC.

If you’ve received a delay e-mail regarding your forthcoming Apple TV, please let us know and we’ll get additional details up as soon as we have them.

Two new Apple patents emerge pertaining to cloud-based sorting, syncing

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 08:21
Category: Apple TV, News, Patents

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Two days after Apple’s media event unveiled a new cloud-based Apple TV, two patent applications from the company describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.

Per AppleInsider, the documents describe wirelessly syncing data between a server in the “cloud,” and a client device owned by an individual user. They also detail methods that aim to improve the navigation, browsing, search and playback of digital media that is hosted on a remote server.

One patent application, entitled “Media and User Interface for Accessing Groups of Media Assets,” relates to browsing content through scrolling lists, searching for specific content, or viewing by category types. The other, named “Data Synchronization Protocol,” describes the syncing of data over the Internet to portable devices like the iPhone, and stationary ones like a Mac.

The timing of the publishing of the documents is noteworthy, as the new Apple TV focuses exclusively on streaming from external devices and over the Internet. Apple will allow TV episode rentals for 99 cents, and first-run HD movies for US$4.99 over the device, as well as access to other Internet-based content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe.

The new Apple TV aims to simplify the browsing experience by relying solely on the cloud, and not saving data on the device itself. In addition to streaming video, the new Apple TV also helps users catch shows they may have missed by keeping viewed content synced with the cloud.

Wednesday’s Apple TV announcement is expected to be only the beginning for Apple’s cloud-based initiative, as the company is reportedly looking to offer an Internet-based iTunes service. Apple has reportedly been in talks with content providers and aims to obtain the necessary licenses to allow users to stream their content to their devices, even with limited or no storage like the Apple TV.

The new application related to data synchronization describes syncing across a number of devices, including Macs and iPhones. It describes allow over-the-air syncing of portable devices, like the iPhone, that currently must be tethered to a computer via USB to sync.

The described invention includes “fast,” “slow” and “reset” sync modes, determined based on a request received from the mobile device. The sync modes can be applied to different types of data classes with different file sizes (say, contacts vs. photos) to more efficiently conduct the cloud-based sync.

The application related to browsing on the Apple TV describes providing a list of information to users, and allowing them to expand that list or seek additional information via a remote control.

It describes methods for quickly sorting content that can be streamed from the cloud, based on criteria set by the user when they browse based on category, or conduct a search.

The application pertaining to syncing was filed on May 13, 2010 and is credited to Brendan A. McCarthy and Carsten Guenther. The application related to browsing of content was originally filed for on May 12, 2010, and is a continuation of a patent filed on May 28, 2007. It is credited to Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Michael Margolis, Rainer Brodersen, Calin Pacuraiu, and Jeffrey L. Robbin.

Apple releases second-generation Apple TV, focuses on streaming for new device

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Date: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010, 17:53
Category: Apple TV, News

Arguably sort of the big kahuna of the Apple media event, the Apple TV is now small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Acknowledging that the Apple TV has “never been a big hit,” CEO Steve Jobs introduced the second generation of the living room device, bringing more of Hollywood movies and TV shows in HD to your home theatre.

Per Mac|Life, Apple CEO Steve Jobs laid out a list of what those buyers want from their Apple TV units: Hollywood movies and TV shows in HD, lower prices for content and no syncing with a computer, not to mention silent, cool and small.

The new Apple TV, which also incorporates the same A4 processor found in the iPhone 4 and the newly-released iPod touch, is 25% the size of the previous model which has been sold for the last four years, and has flip-flopped from white to black. In addition to the new diminutive size, the latest Apple TV does away with downloadable content purchases in favor of streaming right to the box without the need for and iTunes sync.

First-run HD movies from Hollywood are available for US$4.99 with regular SD rentals starting at US$2.99 and catalog HD rentals starting at US$3.99. As predicted, TV show rentals have been added at long last and will be 99 cents per episode as well as commercial-free. ABC and Fox are first on board and Apple hopes to have other networks on board in the near future.

In keeping with other recent rumors, Netflix streaming is now part of the Apple TV package (Netflix subscription required) as well as YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe photos. Apple’s iOS is a no-show, however and the interface remains mostly unchanged from the current Apple TV.

Other features in the new Apple TV include filmography data for actors as well as Rotten Tomatoes reviews, right on your screen. On the hardware side, the new, smaller Apple TV features HDMI, digital optical audio and an Ethernet jack, leaving out analog connections for older televisions.

The new Apple TV is centered around streaming and now everything streams wirelessly to the box for click and play simplicity. Users can fast-forward through opening credits, pause for a popcorn break or replay a scene.

Apple has also introduced AirPlay, which allows iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to stream their handheld content (including music, photos and video) right to the new Apple TV with the push of a button.

The new Apple TV is priced at only US$99 and will be available in six countries to start. Preorders begin today and the device ships in four weeks.

Analyst divulges details as to upcoming Apple TV successor

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Date: Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 04:35
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

Like the iPhone 4 and iPad, the new Apple TV will run the iOS operating system and be powered by a processor with ARM architecture, and will also have access to the App Store, according to one prominent analyst.

Per AppleInsider, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. issued a note to investors Wednesday in which he revealed that sources indicated the “biggest potential change” to the forthcoming Apple TV refresh is the move to an ARM architecture processor running the same iOS software that powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The current Apple TV hardware relies on an Intel x86-based chip, running a “light” version of Mac OS X and its Front Row software.

Wu also said that the new Apple TV, which some have said will be called the “iTV”, will have access to the App Store, Apple’s digital software download storefront. Like the iPad, the new Apple TV could have access to the iPhone App Store, which offers about a quarter-million options for users, though such functionality is apparently not guaranteed.

“Our sources indicate there is some debate within Apple whether to allow this or not, or to have it run only Apple TV-specific apps,” Wu said. “We believe the ability to run the same apps makes a lot of sense and believe this feature could be enough to drive significantly more volume for Apple TV. We find the potential to run video game apps on a TV set most intriguing, as it has been proven in the marketplace that there is (a) large market for casual gaming at inexpensive prices.”

Wu did not indicate, however, how iPhone or iPad applications would run on a TV set, as those that rely on the touchscreen interface require users to interact with the images on screen. But games that rely on the accelerometer in Apple’s mobile devices would likely be suited for the allegedly forthcoming set top box.

As for reports that Apple is negotiating with networks to offer 99 cent TV show rentals (reaffirmed this week by The New York Times), Wu said such an offering would benefit not only the Apple TV, but the company’s entire ecosystem, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac lineup.

“From our checks with supply chain and industry sources, we believe potential changes could turn Apple TV into a bigger hobby and a multi-million unit seller,” the analyst wrote. “And perhaps be a precursor to a bigger effort to address the home entertainment space down the road.”

This should sort itself out on September 1st, so stay tuned until then and we’ll feed you the details as soon as they become available.

Rumor: Apple negotiating 99 cent rentals ahead of next-gen Apple TV release

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Date: Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, 03:45
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

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Well, at least there’ll be more stuff to rent.

Per a Bloomberg article, Apple is allegedly in negotiations with content providers, and is in “advanced talks” with News Corp., to offer 99 cent TV show rentals ahead of an anticipated Apple TV update.

The new service would purportedly allow customers to rent shows through iTunes for 48 hours. News Corp. is the owner of the Fox network.

Author Peter Burrows said Apple’s talks coincide with a new iPod touch with a higher-resolution screen, as well as a new cloud-centric Apple TV with less internal storage starting at US$99.

In addition to Fox, CBS and ABC could also become an option in the streaming service, the report said, as the parent companies of both networks are also a part of the discussions. Apple and Disney, the owner of ABC, have a close relationship, as Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is the single largest shareholder of stock in the Walt Disney Co.

Rumors of a 99 cent TV show rental deal previously surfaced earlier this summer. That report claimed that the offer would work just like existing iTunes movie rentals: users would have 30 days to start watching the rental, and would then have 24 hours to finish it. But unlike the movie rentals, the TV shows would be streamed instead of downloaded.

Apple has allegedly attempted to broker a deal with TV networks for months to offer a subscription TV plan, but has had no luck.

Apple’s 99 cent TV show rentals could be a backup plan of sorts for the company, which is rumored to release a new set top box dubbed iTV as soon as September. Numerous reports have alleged that the device will run Apple’s iOS operating system and be capable of running software from the App Store.

Reports have also suggested that the new iTV will have limited internal storage in order to keep the cost of the device down. The new set top box with a small form factor is rumored to have a starting price of just US$99. The device would apparently make up for its alleged lack of storage by placing an emphasis on streaming media.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple TV could be renamed iTV, drop 1080p support and gain apps

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Date: Thursday, August 12th, 2010, 04:45
Category: Apple TV, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

Per a continuing rumor on Engadget, sources have stated that the Apple TV’s product name will be changed to “iTV” while also dropping support for 1080p video output to standardize on 720p HDTV.

The current articles indicates that the next generation Apple TV will move from a scaled down Mac running Front Row software to an iOS device that works like a screen-less iPod touch.

Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs originally introduced the device (a few months before it shipped) under the iTV name while noting that the company was still looking for a permanent name. Apple TV was subsequently released as Apple announced the iPhone in early 2007.

Since then, Apple has built up the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices but left Apple TV to sit in maintenance mode, collecting few features and never getting an official SDK of its own that would enable third parties to extend its features.

By converting Apple TV into an iOS device, the company could erect a third new wing of apps in iTunes. The popularity of iPad (which has collected a portfolio of over 20,000 apps in just a few months) suggests tremendous potential for a TV-oriented iOS product.

Apple’s ability to rapidly muscle into the market for portable gaming could similarly be repeated by giving existing App Store developers the ability to quickly port and optimize many of their existing games to work on HDTV sets, providing a very cheap alternative to more serious console gaming devices.

If released alongside iPod touch 4 expected next month, Apple could decisively leverage the current excitement surrounding iPad to inhale lots of HDTV users during the holiday season at a time when the growth of the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PS3, and Nintendo Wii are all maturing.

The shift toward a smaller, cheaper device that uses network streaming rather than Apple TV’s hard drive for local storage also likely necessitates using the same video output of iPhone 4 and iPad, which is 1024×768 (or perhaps the very similar 720p HDTV resolution).

Apple sells HD content in iTunes as 720p. Higher resolution 1080p is an alternative HD standard, but video experts note that the difference in resolution is not visible to users at a normal TV viewing distance unless the screen is larger than 55″.

For Apple’s mass market users, a cheaper device that streams easy to buy and view HDTV content makes far more sense than the current Apple TV, which requires syncing with a local iTunes system or downloadable storage for rentals.

Such a device would seem to necessitate HDMI output, rather than the VGA output currently offered by iPhone 4 and iPad, as few HDTV sets or video projectors still support VGA-style inputs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any predictions with what will happen with the Apple TV, feel free to share them with the rest of the class…

Rumor: Apple planning CDMA iPhone, smaller iPad tablets, AMD-powered Apple TV devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 06:02
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, News, Rumor

It’s the rumor mill that keeps things interesting.

Per DigiTimes, overseas component suppliers have started rumors of a number of new products coming from Apple in the next year, including a new Apple TV running iOS and powered by an AMD Fusion processor, a 7″ iPad, a CDMA iPhone, and a new 9.7″ iPad with a Cortex-A9 processor and 512MB of RAM in 2011.

DigiTimes went somewhat overboard on Monday, reporting a lengthy list of potential future hardware from Apple. The site made mention of a Verizon-compatible CDMA iPhone expected to start production in December, piggybacking on rumors that resurfaced over the weekend, claiming the iPhone 4 will debut on the Verizon network in the U.S. in January 2011.

“Pegatron is expected to start mass production in December and will supply to both US-based Verizon Wireless and China-based China Telecom,” the report said. “The CDMA iPhone’s back plate will be forged from metal materials and will feature an integrated antenna.”

Sources also indicated to the publication that Apple will upgrade its 9.7″ iPad to an ARM Cortex-A9-based processor, and also add 512MB of RAM in the first quarter of 2011. The current model has 256MB or RAM and a custom A4 processor based on the Cortex-A8 design.

The report also rekindled rumors of a smaller iPad with a 7″ screen. The report claimed that the hardware will also sport a Cortex-A9-based processor, and like the 9.7-inch model, will have an LCD panel with in-plane switching technology and a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels.

Finally, the report also claimed that the Cupertino, Calif., company is working on a new Apple TV powered by AMD’s Fusion package, dubbed an “accelerated processing unit,” or APU. AMD’s yet-to-be-released hybrid processor combines the CPU and GPU functions into one package. The ARM-based chips found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad already accomplish similar functions with low power consumption.

AMD touts that its forthcoming Fusion product will offer strong HD, 3D and data-intensive performance on the single-die processor. “APUs combine high-performance serial and parallel processing cores with other special-purpose hardware accelerators, enabling breakthroughs in visual computing, security, performance-per-watt and device form factor,” the company said.

DigiTimes claimed that the new Apple TV will switch to “a user interface similar to the iPhone with support for social networking websites, network multimedia and the App Store. Mass production of the device will start in December.”

Aside from the inclusion of an AMD processor, the rumors largely reiterate what was stated in May by assorted web sites. That report indicated that Apple would release a new product that would offer 1080P cloud-based content streaming for just US$99. However, it indicated that the device would run on a custom-built A4 processor, just like the iPad and iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple working on next-gen Apple TV device powered by iPhone OS 4.0

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Date: Friday, May 28th, 2010, 10:07
Category: Apple TV, Rumor

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Details have emerged of a next-generation Apple TV set top box reportedly based on iPhone OS 4, powered by Apple’s custom-built A4 processor, and offering 1080P cloud-based streaming content with a price tag starting at US$99.

Per Engadget, editor Joshua Topolsky said the information came from a tip and was confirmed by a source “very close to Apple.” The new hardware will reportedly have just 16GB of storage, but will be capable of full 1080P HD video.

“Not only will this be priced to sell (like hotcakes), it seems that Apple is moving away from the model of local storage and will be focusing the new ATV on cloud-based storage (not unlike Amazon’s streaming scheme, though we’re talking instant-on 1080P, a la Microsoft),” the report said. “For those still interested in keeping their content close, there will be an option to utilize a Time Capsule as an external storage component, but the main course will be about streaming.”

The new hardware, said to be small with only a power plug and video out, was described as “an iPhone without a screen.” Sources could not say whether or not the new hardware would be compatible with software from the App Store, though Topolsky noted “it makes sense given the shared platform.”

It’s been reported that Apple will not announce the new hardware at the forthcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, but the development is currently “full steam ahead.”

The project has allegedly been in development since long before the Google TV was introduced last week. Google’s offering will run on the Android operating system, and will be integrated in set top boxes as well as on HDTV hardware itself from major manufacturers. Google TV, which will run applications from the Android Market and stream Internet video, is scheduled to be released this fall.

The current generation of Apple TV devices begin at US$229 and comes with 160GB of storage. Last September, Apple discontinued the low-end 40GB Apple TV.

The set top box software was updated last October to Apple TV 3.0. The update added a redesigned main menu that aimed to make navigating content simpler and faster. It also allowed useres to watch iTunes Extras and iTunes LP content in full screen on their TV.

However, the software update failed to boost sales for the device, and Apple executives maintained their position that the Apple TV is simply a “hobby” for the Cupertino, Calif., company. In February, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said the set top box market does not compare with the other categories in which Apple competes, particularly media players, smartphones and computers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

MWSF: Apple Releases Apple TV 3.0.2 Update

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 14:32
Category: Apple TV, Macworld Expo, Software

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It’s not the sexiest update in the world, but it’s functional.

On Thursday, Apple released version 3.0.2 of its firmware for its Apple TV media center device.

Although no official changes were mentioned, the update seems to address changes in image sharing first introduced by the recent release of Aperture 3.

Per Macworld, the update appears to fix a few bugs, eliminating issues related with switching HDMI cables and improving the general readability of its user interface.

The 3.0.2 update can be downloaded and installed directly from the Apple TV firmware upgrade menu.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Apple TV 3.0.1 Update Released, Fixes Disappearing Content Bug

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Date: Monday, November 9th, 2009, 05:47
Category: Apple TV, Software

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Recently, Apple released version 3.0.1 of its Apple TV software. The new update prevents content from temporarily disappearing from the set-top box until it’s resynced. According to Apple’s release notes on the 3.0.1 update, Apple TV 3.0 users may notice that movies, TV shows, and songs appear to be missing from their device.

Per Macworld, users should restart their Apple TV by unplugging the power cord and plugging it back in. Then, they should select Settings->General from the main menu, followed by selecting Update Software. Select Download and Install when prompted by the Apple TV.

If the problem persists, Apple tells users to disconnect the Apple TV from their computers from Settings->Computers , and then reconnect the device again. If the users are still experiencing the problem, they should try a factory restore and an update to version 3.0.1 before re-syncing content from iTunes.

If you have any feedback about the 3.0.1 update, let us know in the comments.