Archive of Apple TV Rumors

apple_tv_squareEarlier this week, The Information said Apple was actively developing an in-home hub that would compete with the Amazon Echo and the Google Home, and now VentureBeat has shared new details on the product and its prospective features.

Citing an unnamed source, VentureBeat says rather than developing a new product, Apple could add Echo-like features to a revamped version of the Apple TV. The Amazon Echo, for those unfamiliar, is an in-home personal assistant device with a built-in speaker and a robust AI system. The Echo is able to perform a wide range of functions, from giving weather reports and answering queries to controlling smart home devices.

A future version of the Apple TV may gain a dedicated microphone and speaker, along with deeper Siri integration to allow it to function like the Echo. Processing queries and serving up results is said to require additional computing infrastructure, which Apple is working on. It is not clear what extra computing infrastructure is needed as the fourth-generation Apple TV includes the same A8 processor that was used in the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, two devices more than capable of processing Siri inquiries.
The company will build on its enhancements to the Apple TV announced last year, which brought the Siri virtual assistant to the set-top box. A new version of the Apple TV will solve problems with the existing box and remote control, a source familiar with the matter claims.

"They want Apple TV to be just the hub of everything," the source told VentureBeat.
Apple reportedly considered several options, ranging from a more comprehensive Siri implementation in the Apple TV to an improved Siri Remote to a standalone Echo-like product, but the standalone option was dropped in favor of furthering development on the Apple TV.

VentureBeat's report does not include details on when a next-generation Apple TV box with the aforementioned features could be released, but a late 2015 rumor from DigiTimes suggested Apple was already at work on a fifth-generation Apple TV with a new CPU and redesigned heat-dissipation solution to go along with it.

Turning the Apple TV (or another hardware product) into an Amazon Echo competitor will require more robust Siri capabilities, which could come as soon as iOS 10. Apple is said to be working on a Siri SDK, allowing third-party developers to build Siri support into their apps.
The universal search functionality on the latest Apple TV recently saw NBC added to the list of content providers included in results in the United States. The addition is part of an ongoing expansion that most recently saw CBS added last month.

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Universal search on the Apple TV allows users to search for content using Siri or text entry and see a list of providers offering a given movie or TV show. For providers that offer only certain seasons of a show, those limitations are reflected on the results screen.

With the addition of NBC, apps for all four major U.S. networks are now included in universal search, as well as iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney's suite of TV channels, Showtime, PBS, Starz, Nat Geo, and FX. In most other countries, only iTunes content is currently supported, while Netflix is also supported in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Apple today provided developers with the first beta of an upcoming 9.2.2 update to tvOS, the operating system designed to run on the fourth-generation Apple TV. tvOS 9.2.2 comes one week after the public launch of tvOS 9.2.1, a minor update focusing on bug fixes.

tvOS betas are more difficult to install than beta updates for iOS and OS X. Installing the tvOS beta requires the Apple TV to be connected to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, with the software downloaded and installed via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Once a beta profile has been installed on the device through iTunes, new beta releases will be available over the air.

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As a minor 9.x.x update, tvOS 9.2.2 is likely to focus on bug fixes and performance improvements to address issues discovered since the release of tvOS 9.2.1, and Apple's release notes do say the update contains bug fixes and security improvements. Any outward-facing changes found in the tvOS 9.2.2 beta will be included below.
The launch of the fourth-generation Apple TV, with Siri integration and a full App Store, resulted in a huge Apple TV sales boost, according to new data shared by Parks Associates. In 2015, Apple TV unit sales were 50 percent higher than unit sales in 2014.

Despite the surge in sales, the Apple TV continues to rank as the fourth most popular streaming media player in the United States, coming in behind Roku, Amazon, and Google. The Apple TV accounted for 20 percent of streaming media players purchased from 1Q 2015 to 1Q 2016, compared to 30 percent for Roku and 22 percent each for Amazon and Google.

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While Apple TV remains in fourth place among the four major brands, it had the largest increase in unit sales year-over-year, primarily due to its long-awaited new version, launched in 4Q 2015. Its share of sales in 2015 was 50% higher than its share in 2014. Amazon also had a substantially higher share of unit sales in 2015.
Parks Associates believes Apple trails behind because both Amazon and Roku offer multiple form factors with both standard boxes and smaller sticks available. Amazon, Roku, and Google also offer more affordably priced streaming media players than Apple, with its latest box starting at $149. Apple does, however, continue to sell its third-generation Apple TV for $69, more competitively priced with competing set-top boxes.

In total, 36 percent of U.S. broadband households now have at least one streaming media player, up from 27 percent last year, and media players from Amazon, Roku, Apple, and Google make up 94 percent of those. Media player sales are expected to grow significantly over the next few years, with an estimated 86 million streaming media players set to be sold globally in 2019.

Since Apple just released its latest Apple TV set-top box in October of 2015, there's no word on when another update is planned. Apple has recently been working on building out the tvOS software included on the fourth-generation Apple TV, introducing much-needed new features like dictation, app folders, and Bluetooth keyboard support.
Apple today released a new update for tvOS, the operating system designed to run on the fourth-generation Apple TV. tvOS 9.2.1 is a minor update that comes a month after the launch of tvOS 9.2, a more significant update that introduced a range of features from Bluetooth keyboard support and dictation to Siri search for the App Store and app folders.

The new tvOS 9.2.1 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System --> Software Update. Those who have automatic software updates turned on will be upgraded to the new 9.2.1 operating system automatically.

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As a minor 9.x.x update, tvOS 9.2.1 focuses on bug fixes and performance updates to address issues discovered since the release of tvOS 9.2, and no major outward-facing changes were discovered during the beta testing process.

tvOS 9.2.1 is the fourth update the tvOS operating system has seen since its October 2015 release, following tvOS 9.1, tvOS 9.1.1, and tvOS 9.2.
Apple today provided developers with the fourth beta of an upcoming 9.2.1 update to tvOS, the operating system designed for the fourth-generation Apple TV. Today's beta comes one week after the third beta of tvOS 9.2.1 and more than a month after the release of tvOS 9.2. tvOS 9.2.1 has been in testing since April 6.

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tvOS betas are more difficult to install than beta updates for iOS and OS X. Installing the tvOS beta requires the Apple TV to be connected to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, with the software downloaded and installed via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Those who have already installed the first three tvOS 9.2.1 betas will be able to update to the fourth beta over the air.

As a minor 9.x.x update, tvOS 9.2.1 focuses on bug fixes and performance improvements that are not readily apparent to Apple TV users. There have been no outward-facing changes in the first three tvOS 9.2.1 betas, but any new features discovered in the fourth beta will be listed below.
Apple today provided developers with the third beta of an upcoming 9.2.1 update to tvOS, the operating system designed to run on the fourth-generation Apple TV. Today's beta comes one week after tvOS 9.2.1 beta 2. tvOS 9.2.1 has been in testing since April 6.

tvOS 9.2.1 is a minor update that comes more than a month after the launch of tvOS 9.2, a significant update introducing features like Bluetooth keyboard support, dictation, Siri search for the App Store, app folders, and more.

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tvOS betas are more difficult to install than beta updates for iOS and OS X. Installing the tvOS beta requires the Apple TV to be connected to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, with the software downloaded and installed via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Those who have already installed the first two tvOS 9.2.1 betas will be able to update to the third beta over the air.

As a minor 9.x.x update, tvOS 9.2.1 appears to focus on bug fixes and performance improvements that are not readily obvious to Apple TV users. No outward-facing changes have been found in the first two tvOS 9.2.1 betas, but should any new features be found in beta 3, we'll list them below.
Apple today provided developers with the second beta of an upcoming 9.2.1 update to tvOS, the operating system designed to run on the fourth-generation Apple TV. tvOS 9.2.1 is a minor update that comes one month after the launch of tvOS 9.2, a major update that introduced a range of features from Bluetooth keyboard support and dictation to Siri search for the App Store and app folders.

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tvOS betas are more difficult to install than beta updates for iOS and OS X. Installing the tvOS beta requires the Apple TV to be connected to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, with the software downloaded and installed via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Those who have already installed the first tvOS 9.2.1 beta will be able to update to the second beta over the air.

As a minor 9.x.x update, tvOS 9.2.1 likely focuses on bug fixes and performance updates to address issues discovered since the release of tvOS 9.2. No new outward-facing changes were found in the first tvOS 9.2.1 beta, but should any new features pop up in beta 2, we will list them below.
Apple has begun rolling out iTunes web previews for Apple TV apps, allowing Apple TV users and developers alike to easily share links to Apple TV apps on the web. The change was first spotted by Slide to Play's Jeff Scott (via MacStories).

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Previously, Apple only had iTunes web previews enabled for iOS and Mac OS X apps, making it very difficult for users of the fourth-generation Apple TV to share their favorite apps on the web as well as for developers to promote their apps on their websites and social media accounts.

Although the feature is still rolling out, it appears it's limited to tvOS-only apps thus far. Kevin MacLeod of AfterPad told MacStories "that while the iTunes API is now returning screenshot metadata for tvOS-only apps, that metadata is absent for iOS apps with tvOS support."

Two of the first apps to feature web previews are currently Disney Infinity 3.0 and Beergeek.com TV. While these previews offer users and developers a way to see what an Apple TV app looks like or what features it has, they do not include any way for users to take any action.
In a longer piece covering the streaming television and video ambitions of Apple, Alibaba, Facebook, and Google, Fast Company suggests Apple is covertly pursuing original television programming deals that would establish it as a major player in the entertainment industry.

Apple is said to be seeking deals with "triple A-list" talent to create a full roster of shows to put it on par with Netflix and Amazon, both of which have successfully launched popular original television shows like House of Cards, Jessica Jones, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Sources that spoke to Fast Company say Apple is aiming to run several major shows at once, perhaps as part of a major launch.

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At last year's Sundance Film Festival, Apple created an iTunes Lounge where it hosted private invitation-only events for film makers, producers, and other talent. At the event, described as sleek and understated, attendees said Apple was "definitely talking to the talent." As has been previously rumored, Apple execs also traveled to Los Angeles to hear ideas for original television shows, with Apple's original programming efforts being led by Robert Kondrk, vice president of iTunes Content.
The iTunes Lounge was in fact part of a stealth effort by Apple to establish a new, more active role in delivering entertainment. In the weeks that followed, Apple execs were in Los Angeles hearing pitches for original TV series that it plans to launch on an "exclusives" app on Apple TV and within iTunes. Apple wants to work with "triple A-list" talent, according to a source, and build up a roster of must-see shows available only on its platform. Naturally, the talks have been veiled in the utmost secrecy. Producers who have met with Apple will refer to it only as the United Fruit Company.
Given Apple's positive reputation among creators, Apple has the draw to attract quality talent and the cash reserves to fund high ticket shows. Content creators are said to be "so excited" about the possibility of working with Apple that people are "throwing [ideas] against the wall with them, to every extent possible."

According to five sources who spoke to Fast Company, however, Apple is "disorganized" and "hasn't presented a coherent strategy" for its television plans. The company is reportedly taking a "two-lane" approach to original television programming, producing a series of short films, documentaries, and music videos to promote Apple music while simultaneously developing full Netflix-style original programming.

Apple already has two known television projects in the works. The first, which has not yet been officially announced, is said to be an Apple Music-related project called Vital Signs, which is a dark semi-autobiographical drama starring Beats co-founder and Apple executive Dr. Dre. The second, which was announced in March, is a non-scripted television show that will "spotlight the app economy." Apple is working with Will.i.am, Ben Silverman, and Howard T. Owens on the series.

Alongside the announcement of the the App Store television series, iTunes chief Eddy Cue cautioned the show is not a signal Apple is delving deeper into original television and streaming video, despite rumors to the contrary.

"This doesn't mean that we are going into a huge amount of movie production or TV production or anything like that," Cue said at the time, but he did say Apple would explore similar exclusive projects. Hollywood sources told Fast Company that Apple is approaching its television ambitions with caution and that Cue's statement is "merely tamping down expectations."
Apple today began promoting a new feature on the fourth-generation Apple TV called "Live Tune-In," which lets users jump directly into the live streams of select apps using Siri. The company is specifically promoting CBS, ESPN, and Disney XD as apps that support Live Tune-In, but it hasn't disclosed yet how soon other apps that have live channel functionality will gain the new feature as well.

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To use Live Tune-In, Apple TV users can speak into the Siri Remote using commands like "Watch CBS," or specifically ask to "Watch ESPN live." Other features on the new splash screen of the Apple TV include updates that were released in March's tvOS 9.2 update -- including Folders and Bluetooth keyboard support -- but Apple is just now beginning to promote the Live Tune-In ability as an option for those who watch live channels often on the platform.

Some live streaming apps do require separate subscriptions to be able to watch live TV in the first place, so the CBS app won't work for those who don't have a CBS All Access account. Other live streaming-supported apps that don't appear to incorporate Live Tune-In yet include ABC and Food Network.

(Thanks, Eric!)
Apple today added CBS to its universal search lineup for the fourth-generation Apple TV, allowing fans of hit CBS shows like NCIS, Big Bang Theory and Supergirl to easily find their content via the Siri button on the Siri Remote. The move brings the total number of sources in universal search to 16.

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Since launch, Apple has worked to expand the feature and add to the five original sources. In January, Apple added FOX NOW, FX NOW, National Geographic TV, PBS and PBS Kids. In February, the company added Watch ABC, Disney XD, Disney Channel and Disney Jr. Last week, Apple added Starz alongside the launch of the new Starz app.

While Apple has steadily added to the feature in the United States, Netflix and iTunes remain the only search options in Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Other regions' universal search options are limited to movies in iTunes.