Tuesday October 28, 2014 7:18 am PDT by Eric Slivka
In yet another addition to the growing stable of channels available on the Apple TV, A&E's Fyi network and Hallmark's streaming family movie channel Feeln have been added to the set-top box today.
As with many other channels, Fyi offers some free content, but complete access to streaming on-demand episodes requires authentication with a participating cable provider. The television, which launched as a rebranding of The Biography Channel earlier this year, focuses on "contemporary lifestyle" topics.
Feeln's subscription service is priced at $4.99 per month with a one-week free trial or $47.99 per year with a one-month free trial. The service offers reasonable library of family-friend movies for streaming, including some box office hits, Hallmark originals, and original shorts.
Wednesday October 8, 2014 11:17 am PDT by Juli Clover
We're growing closer to the launch of the first hardware accessories that are compatible with Apple's HomeKit home automation platform, as the company has recently published the final Made for iPhone (MFi) specifications for hardware developers. With the completed specifications, hardware manufacturers will be able to create products that are designed to integrate with the HomeKit platform.
All developers creating hardware for HomeKit must follow Apple's MFi guidelines and incorporate the HomeKit technical specifications. As outlined by 9to5Mac, some of Apple's final HomeKit specifications cover the pairing and security of Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi connected HomeKit accessories.
While we've already seen several products that will take advantage of HomeKit, including a smart USB charger and a line of connected home sensors, Apple's HomeKit supports a wide range of products like lightbulbs, locks, fans, thermostats, power outlets, garage doors, and more. Apple has also announced several partners already, including Philips and Honeywell.
Connected home sensors with HomeKit integration from Elgato
As Apple has worked to ready HomeKit for hardware developers, it has also been working on the software front. The latest beta of the Apple TV software, released alongside iOS 8.1 beta 2, includes explicit support for HomeKit, turning the Apple TV into something of a home automation hub.
The new Apple TV software turns the Apple TV into a remote access HomeKit peer, and as described by AppleInsider, this allows HomeKit devices to sync with the Apple TV, possibly giving users a way to control connected devices even when away from home.
In the future, an updated Apple TV set-top box could include long-rumored features like Siri support, letting users easily control HomeKit-connected devices from their living rooms through the Apple TV dashboard. HomeKit has been designed to work deeply with Siri, letting users control HomeKit hardware via voice commands.
At its Worldwide Developers Conference, several potential uses for HomeKit were demoed. For example, when a user has HomeKit-compatible hardware installed, Apple's voice assistant Siri can be asked to "Close the garage, "Turn off the lights," or "Lower the temperature."
Apple has plans to hold a Made for iPhone (MFi) summit November 12 through November 14, providing accessory manufacturers and developers with information on HomeKit, iBeacon, AirPlay, and more, and with the finalized specification now available, we should be seeing additional hardware products with HomeKit support in the near future.
Thursday October 2, 2014 6:54 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
A recent Apple patent application (via AppleInsider) reveals some of the company's efforts looking into ways of improving the Apple TV and iTunes desktop experience using iOS. The newly published patent application, titled "Browsing remote content using a native user interface," describes a mobile application that would serve as a second screen for a connected media device.
Mobile devices and computers displaying native interfaces for viewing content and sending controls to media device
This smarter iOS-based remote detailed in the patent moves away from the current Remote app that mimics a hardware remote by providing a robust Apple TV or iTunes interface on the mobile device. Users could then browse, search or perform other advanced functions right from the mobile device.
The disclosed technology relates to receiving media signals from a media device and rendering a user interface that is native to the device receiving the media signals based on information encoded in the media signals. The device receiving the media signal interprets information received from the media device describing media content and semantic information describing a type of interface page, and displays the content based on the semantic information in a graphical user interface (GUI) on the electronic device based on the interpretation.
Other descriptions in the patent application, which was filed in March 2013, suggest iOS owners could use the remote to search the web for information, such as the cast of the movie they are watching, and display that information on the big screen.
Apple is rumored to be working on a new Apple TV that could launch sometime in 2015. The company reportedly is working with cable companies to negotiate access to live and on-demand content, but has run into numerous obstacles on the content front.
The new Apple TV may include an App Store, Siri integration and more. It is not yet clear whether the device will be a cable-supported set-top box, an updated version of the current Apple TV, or a combination set-top box and streaming media device, as Apple has been rumored to be working on a variety of different options.
As with many Apple patent applications showing unreleased inventions, there are no assurances the disclosed inventions will ever be released, but they can sometimes reveal hints about the company's areas of interest and research.
Wednesday September 24, 2014 7:22 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
UK home entertainment and communications provider Sky expanded its Apple TV offerings with its expanded NOW TV channel supporting the broadcaster's Entertainment Month Pass and Sky Movies Month Pass, reports Engadget. These two passes join the existing Sky Sports day pass that debuted on NOW TV last year.
The Entertainment Month Pass for NOW TV brings the latest television programming from 13 pay TV channels, including Boardwalk Empire and The Leftovers, for £4.99 (US$8.19) monthly. The Movies Month Pass is for movie buffs, offering streaming access to more than 800 blockbuster Hollywood films for £9.99 (US$16.39) a month after a 30-day free trial. UK customers also will be able to access the £9.99 (US$16.39) Sky Sports Day Pass for one-day access to six different Sky Sports channels.
Apple recently has been expanding the content and capabilities of its Apple TV. In the past few weeks, the company has rolled out a new channels for Beats Music and FX NOW, tweaked the user interface with an iOS 7-inspired design, and added support for iOS 8 features like Family Sharing and iCloud Photo Support.
Tuesday September 23, 2014 10:17 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today added the FXNOW channel to the Apple TV, providing users with content from the FXNOW network. Previously rumored in July, the new FXNOW channel is the on-demand portion of the FX, FXX, and FXM television channels, all of which are owned by the Fox Entertainment Group.
Rumors suggested the FXNOW Apple TV channel would include content from The Simpsons, branded Simpsons World, which includes all 552 episodes of The Simpsons. Early reports on the channel suggested users would be able to create playlists of episodes and share favorite scenes. Currently, however, the channel offers a variety of content from FX, including episodes of The Strain and Sons of Anarchy.
Like many cable-based channels on the Apple TV, much of the FXNOW content require cable authentication. Supported cable providers for the FXNOW channel include AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox, and Time-Warner.
Apple has significantly expanded content offerings on the Apple TV over the past year or two, but many of the additions have been limited to the United States. The Netflix channel has, however, been available in many of the markets served by Netflix, which has included the U.S., Latin America, and a number of countries in Europe. As a result, it is unsurprising that the channel has expanded to Germany, but viewers there will be happy to see Apple TV support arriving right alongside the general launch of Netflix in the country.
The Apple TV channel is a companion to the Showtime premium cable network and offers limited free content to all users. Most content, which includes live and on-demand shows and events, is limited to customers who subscribe to the network through a participating cable provider.
Tuesday August 26, 2014 7:13 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple today launched its iTunes Festival channel on the Apple TV ahead of the festival's start on September 1. Similar to previous years, the iTunes Festival channel contains information relevant to the upcoming London version of the popular music festival.
Ahead of the event, the channel allows you to browse information on the history of the festival, details on the Roadhouse, and the performance schedule for next month. When the festival begins, Apple TV owners can watch HD streams of both live and archived performances.
Apple recently filled its performance calendar adding well-known musicians such as Mary J. Blige and Tony Bennett to the festival lineup. These performers will join previously announced acts such as Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams and Lenny Kravitz. Tickets for the concert are available for free via a lottery system and through local radio station promotions.
Apple's iTunes Festival iOS app is also showing as having an update available to support the upcoming concert series, but many users are reporting errors when trying to update their apps.
Wednesday August 20, 2014 11:58 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Alongside the new NFL Now channel on the Apple TV debuting today, ESPN has also expanded its WatchESPN channel to include support for college sports with the SEC Network and Longhorn Network.
The SEC Network is a brand-new television network created through a partnership between the Southeastern Conference and ESPN. The network launched last week ahead of the 2014 college football season with plans to cover at least 1000 live events per year from the conference's 21 sports. The network consists of a standard SEC Network channel, which mirrors featured content from the SEC Network television channel, as well as an SEC Network + channel with additional coverage.
The Longhorn Network is focused solely on the University of Texas at Austin athletic program and is also produced in partnership with ESPN. The network is entering its fourth year of availability, but has just been added to the WatchESPN online service this season.
Both networks were added to the WatchESPN iOS app last week, but it has taken a few extra days to make their way to the Apple TV channel. Access to the content is limited to those who have television subscription packages that include the corresponding channels.
Wednesday August 20, 2014 10:06 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
The National Football League earlier this month officially launched its NFL Now service, its next-generation video streaming service that provides access to the largest digital library of NFL videos available online. The video content can be viewed on the iPhone, iPad, Mac (via a web browser) and other connected devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and as of today, the Apple TV channel that was leaked earlier in the month.
The NFL Now service delivers historic videos, breaking news, game highlights and original programming from the NFL Now studios. Personalization is a key feature -- allowing users to follow their favorite players and teams, with up to 4,800 minutes of team coverage being pushed across their screens each week. The service also will provide live video coverage of important press events and other important moments from the NFL. It will not live stream NFL games that are in progress. Customers who want to watch games as they are happening must download the NFL Mobile app [Direct Link].
NFL Now is available in two tiers, with the free NFL Now service providing access to the core news and video content. Football fans who want even more content and personalization can subscribe to the $1.99 monthly NFL Now Plus service, which offers instant in-game highlights, access to NFL Films videos and the ability to create custom video streams featuring their favorite teams or players.
iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users can download the NFL Now app [Direct Link] from the iOS App Store for free. Mac users can get their fill of NFL coverage via the NFL Now website, while Apple TV channels can access the new channel directly from the main screen on their set-top boxes.
Tuesday August 12, 2014 8:53 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Ahead of its London iTunes Festival in September, Apple is promoting its Apple TV with a bundle deal offering a $25 iTunes gift card with each Apple TV purchase (via 9to5Mac). The gift card can be used to purchase apps, music, and movies available in the iTunes Store, and the promotion is valid through September 30.
Earlier this year, Apple offered a similar $25 gift card promotion that sparked speculation about a possible imminent launch of an updated Apple TV. These rumors turned out to be false, and Apple is still selling the same third-generation model that saw its last substantial update in early 2012. Though this latest promotion offers a $25 gift card, the Apple TV still retails for its original $99 price tag.
The current crop of rumors suggests a 2015 update for Apple's television-related hardware, with delays to a rumored set-top box interfacing with live and on-demand content reportedly due to ongoing negotiations with cable companies. Rumors have indicated the next-generation Apple TV may include an App Store, support for wireless game controllers, Siri integration and more, although it is unclear whether Apple plans to split the television lineup between the full-featured set-top box and an improved Apple TV or if everything will be bundled into a single Apple TV product.
Wednesday August 6, 2014 9:10 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Roughly six weeks ago, ABC News launched a new Apple TV channel offering a wide range of live and on-demand content from both national and select local feeds. Based on the first 30 days of availability, ABC News has now put together an infographic that offers a look at how the channel is being used. Among the interesting observations:
- Live video usage on Apple TV, which accounts for 20 percent of channel views, is 50 percent higher than on mobile and desktop combined.
- Apple TV viewers spend 65 percent more time per visit than desktop users.
- Peak usage for the ABC News Apple TV channel falls at 9 PM Eastern Time, likely due to that time period encompassing evening viewing hours for most of the United States.
Click for full infographic
Alongside today's usage data release, ABC News is also announcing the addition of three new local stations to the channel: Albuquerque (KOAT), Boston (WCVB), and Honolulu (KITV). The new additions join the original nine local stations made available on the channel at launch.
Apple has been adding new channels to the Apple TV at a fairly rapid pace, at least in the United States, although many of them require authentication through an existing cable service provider. The company has long been rumored to be working on a more powerful set-top box, but the latest rumors have suggested the device is unlikely to arrive until 2015.
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