Posts tagged with "apple tv"

Apple Adds Apple TV Channel To Celebrate The Beatles’ American Debut

As noted by MacRumors' Richard Padilla, Apple today added a new channel to the Apple TV to celebrate The Beatles' debut in the United States 50 years ago:

The channel allows users to view The Beatles' groundbreaking performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" for a limited time, and also offers download links to The Beatles' U.S. releases, which are available digitally for the first time on iTunes.

The Beatles made their first appearance on American television on February 9, 1964, on The Ed Sullivan Show. From Ed Sullivan's official website:

Never before had so many viewers tuned-in to a live television program, which with 73 million viewers, was three-fourths of the total adult audience in the United States. A music group from England had never crossed over into American culture in such a way, and, at the time, it wasn’t too common for a variety television show to book an English rock band. However, because Ed Sullivan traveled to England frequently, and had a great eye for talent, The Beatles caught his attention and earned a slot on his popular variety program on CBS.

After years of negotiations, The Beatles' digital catalogue arrived on iTunes in 2010, with Apple celebrating the event with a press release and promotion on its website and iTunes' front page. Apple has been adding standalone channels to the Apple TV in the past several months, including Yahoo Screen, PBS, Crackle, Bloomberg News, Vevo, Disney Channel, and The Weather Channel.

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Infuse 2

Speaking of the Apple TV, the app I used to stream movies to my television wirelessly was Infuse. Developed by FireCore, Infuse is a good-looking video player with support for multiple formats, Dolby Digital Plus sound, integration with the TheMovieDB and TheTVDB for metadata, and AirPlay.

I wasn't interested in features like trakt, social sharing, or subtitles – I just wanted an easy way to stream videos from my iPad to the Apple TV without loss in terms of quality and smoothness. I downloaded Infuse, connected the iPad to my Mac (my movies are on an external drive), and used iTunes' file manager to drop files into Infuse. Seconds after the copy was finished, Infuse would see the video, collect metadata, and display a gorgeous artwork preview with cast information and technical details on the file.

To stream videos with AirPlay, you need to unlock the $4.99 “Infuse Pro” In-App Purchase, which I bought immediately and didn't regret. I gave Infuse various formats including MKV and AVI at both 720p and 1080p and streaming to my second-gen Apple TV was always smooth and fast.

I'm impressed by Infuse because, once it had my videos, it didn't require me to fiddle with any setting or file conversion – it just worked with AirPlay and videos looked great. Infuse is free on the App Store and you can read more about supported formats (for video, audio tracks, and subtitles) here.

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Apple TV Tips

A Reddit thread with a series of great tips for Apple TV settings and AirPlay-compatible apps I didn't know about. I could have used some of these suggestions (like Beamer and the Menu shortcut) for Christmas, as I watched movies with my family through the Apple TV every day. It takes a while to read through the comments, but it's worth it.

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Apple Adds Bloomberg, Local ABC News, Crackle, and KOR TV to Apple TV Channel Lineup

Less than a month ago Apple brought channels like Yahoo Screen and PBS to the Apple TV, and today they're bringing over streaming news services like Bloomberg, ABC (for streaming local content from ABC news affiliates), Crackle for movies and TV shows, and Korean language channel KOR TV. Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch echoes what I suggested last month regarding the Apple TV as a viable alternative for cable cutters:

This launch is just the most recent in what’s been an increasingly fast-paced rollout of new content partners on Apple’s set-top box, but it brings some interesting ingredients to the mix, including local broadcast TV streaming and a 24-hour news channel, which are key ingredients to what many users would consider basic TV service. Apple TV didn’t start off as a really viable cord-cutting alternative for people looking to ditch their cable subscriptions, but it’s been building up a piecemeal library of a la carte content that begins to become a truly worthy option.

In a nutshell, the Apple TV now has a 24-hour news channels, multiple sports outlets, various channels for kids, and channels apps for watching TV shows and movies on demand.

For a listing of channels currently available on the Apple TV, check out the "Whats on Apple TV" page at Apple.com.

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Apple Adds Yahoo Screen and PBS to Apple TV

Apple's small set-top box has received two new apps this morning according to Peter Kafka of All Things Digital. Yahoo Screen delivers programs such as The Daily Show and channels from partners such as ABC News, while PBS' app will have a back catalog of shows that can be watched after they air on television.

The PBS app offers popular programs like “Frontline”, but it only appears to offer old episodes, and not live streams. [...]

Yahoo’s screen app offers a mix of clips, ranging from a recent Saturday Night Live performance by Lady gaga to movie trailers to game reviews; it also offers channels from Yahoo partners including Conde Nast magazines, ABC News and The Onion.

When it debuted, the Apple TV was really only appealing to iTunes customers who primarily wanted to stream downloaded TV Shows or Movies to their televisions over AirPlay, but this is becoming a legitimate competitive alternative to things like Roku's streaming players. Between Hulu, Netflix, sports broadcasting, recently added apps like the Weather Channel and the Disney Channel, Crunchyroll, and now these extras, it's a competitively priced product that's starting to become an actual alternative for cable cutters and anyone who subscribes to digital programming. There are some apps like HBO GO that require a cable subscription, but we're getting there.

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Apple TV Gets Vevo, Disney Channel, and The Weather Channel in Latest Update

Eric Slivka from MacRumors writes:

Apple today added several new apps to the Apple TV, including the previously reported Vevo music video channel. Other new additions include a dedicated app for The Weather Channel, an app for the Smithsonian Channel, as well as two Disney television apps: Disney Channel and Disney XD.

Vevo's library of 75,000 HD music video should keep the kids busy for a while.

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The Potential of iOS 7 Game Controllers

Chris Plante:

If Apple finds a way to standardize traditional controls, every iOS device will become a transportable console. In a year, both iPhones and iPads will approach the processing power of the current-generation devices. Companies will have the ability to port controller-based games for the mobile devices in millions of pockets — an install base far greater than they've ever had before.

Today, using Airplay and an Apple TV, players can stream their games from their iOS device to their high-definition television. With controller support, players will be able to play more traditional, non-touch games.

I agree with Chris' take: the new game controller APIs for developers have great potential, but, ultimately, it's up to Apple to believe in this opportunity. What's indisputable is that later this year, when controllers will be released by third-parties, games supporting them will already work with the existing Apple TV's AirPlay streaming features. It'll be interesting to see if Apple will publicly acknowledge this new scenario for gamers and Apple TV owners (as Tim Cook often notes, Apple doesn't advertise the Apple TV aside from a product page on Apple.com).

We've already discussed how the potential of dual-screen AirPlay gaming is largely untapped, and I suspect the addition of physical controllers will allow iOS game developers to explore even more possibilities. Essentially, controllers that will attach to iPhones will create a DS-like experience -- with the "top screen" being the Apple TV.

Today's hardware, as recent ports show, isn't yet capable of handling the same amount of power and definition of modern console games. The App Store needs improvements (especially for curation and discovery), but Apple has the advantage of having a solid platform where free-to-play is an established model and where everyone can develop games (with great new game-related APIs coming in iOS 7) as long as they are registered developers. With 575 million iTunes Store accounts with credit cards on file, Apple also has the largest user base -- customers already buying software from the App Store. And, let's not forget the iPod touch, Apple's cheapest way into App Store gaming, which recently received an even cheaper option.

On the other hand, in the current state of App Store economics, it's difficult to imagine how Apple could lure major console publishers to release AAA titles under $30 and that aren't low-res ports, companion apps, or dumbed-down versions of console/PC games. Does Apple care about having the next Destiny on iOS first? The new Call of Duty? Will future iOS hardware be capable of running those kinds of games? Or is Apple just fine with attacking the market from the low end, taking more time to see how game developers will react to new iOS software and hardware in the next five years?

Will Apple ever develop a culture and appreciation for gaming as a medium, not just an App Store category? While others (namely Microsoft) are trying to add more media and entertainment layers on top of existing game infrastructures, Apple is in the opposite situation -- running the largest media store and selling devices that are increasingly used as gaming machines, but that still lack the catalog and support of dedicated home consoles.

As far as third-party developers are concerned, things have changed since 2008. Five years ago, imagining a console hit like Metal Gear Solid 4 on iOS would have been absurd; today, we have a port (albeit low-res) of XCOM eight months after the original release. Compare this example to Metal Gear Solid Touch, "based on" Metal Gear Solid 4 and released nine months after the original game, in 2009. What's the App Store going to be like in 2018? Can we imagine, two or three years from now, simultaneous and equal releases of AAA games across consoles and iOS? And if so, how will the App Store's numbers play to Apple's advantage against Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Valve?

Apple is testing the waters (having to buy separate iOS devices, Apple TV, and third-party game controllers isn't a simple message) and they seem extremely cautious with their Apple TV strategy, but it does look like some pieces of the gaming puzzle are slowly coming together. We're seeing more full ports of console games nowadays, alongside, obviously, the brand new iOS gaming experiences that have shaped the modern industry. iOS 7 game controllers will likely make developers more comfortable with the idea of "serious" games on iOS (although Apple wants controllers to be optional...for now), and I'm curious to see which parts of Apple's grand vision for TV will relate to games, the App Store, and iOS.


HBO GO, WatchESPN, Sky News, Crunchyroll, and Qello Come to Apple TV

Apple is rolling out new programming with its latest software update, version 5.3, for 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs. HBO GO and WatchESPN are now directly available on Apple TV, in addition to Sky News (for US, UK, and Ireland), Crunchyroll, and Qello.

HBO GO and WatchESPN require a cable subscription:

HBO GO users get unlimited access to their favorite HBO shows, including HBO original programming, hit movies, sports, documentaries, comedy specials and more. This includes full seasons of the best of HBO, plus bonus features and special behind-the-scenes extras. HBO GO on Apple TV requires a subscription to HBO through participating television providers.

WatchESPN on Apple TV delivers a one-stop video destination for sports fans with live access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN Buzzer Beater/Goal Line to those who receive ESPN’s networks as part of their video subscription from affiliated providers.

You can learn more about today's update in Apple's press release.


PlexConnect for Apple TV

A clever little hack to display Plex content on an Apple TV with no jailbreak required:

Essentially, you run a program on your computer which masquerades as the Trailer app. Next, change one setting on the ATV, and you’re up and running. It took me less than 2 minutes to install and get it running. It already uses the new transcoder (which means great support for subtitles), and I suspect it’ll support myPlex soon as well.

There's a bit of manual configuration to do with this first version of PlexConnect. You can find an official discussion board, check out the FAQ, roadmap, or grab the source code here.

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