Thursday July 10, 2014 12:22 am PDT by Richard Padilla
Google's Chromecast and the Roku were the two highest-selling streaming media devices in the U.S. last year as the Apple TV fell to third place, according to new data from Parks Associates (via GigaOM).
Both Google and Roku sold an estimated 3.8 million streaming media devices last year, with Apple selling just over 2 million Apple TVs. To date, Apple has sold over 20 million Apple TVs worldwide since launching the streaming device in 2007, while Roku has sold 8 million devices since its first media box in 2008.
A Parks Associates report last year noted that 14% of U.S. broadband households were using streaming media devices. The study also stated that 37% of those surveyed households used a Roku device while 24% used an Apple TV, making the Roku the most used set-top box in the U.S.
Recent rumors have suggested that Apple is working on a next-generation Apple TV, which may feature a streaming TV service through a partnership with Comcast and other cable-box like capabilities. Some reports have also speculated that a new Apple TV may include enhanced gaming capabilities, utilizing iOS gaming controllers and an App Store ecosystem to provide a console-like experience.
Video site Vimeo today announced a revamp of its Apple TV channel, simplifying the interface, launching a new "Staff Favorites" monthly feature, and making several other enhancements. The updates focus on improving video discovery and reducing the number of clicks it takes to access videos.
We took our old menu, cut it down to the essentials, and put it at the top of the screen for easy access. Discover awesome videos, keep up with your feed, tackle your Watch Later queue, and quickly get to your own videos, likes, and collections.
Watch our favorites
Don’t have time to watch every single Staff Pick? Our monthly Staff Favorites Albums highlight the best of the best. We’ve also added the winners of our Vimeo Weekend Challenges and a bunch of curated Channels so you can watch tons of amazing videos right away.
Vimeo is also featuring its growing On Demand trailer library, which integrates with the service's Watch Later queue to make it easy to access content across devices. Enhanced Video Detail pages also include background images and additional metadata such as audience ratings and reviews.
Content providers are increasingly embracing Apple TV as a platform for distributing their content, with roughly 40 channels now available, although many of the services are currently limited to the United States or just a handful of other countries. Vimeo, however, is available worldwide for Apple TV users.
ABC News is launching a new Apple TV channel today, bringing access to live and on-demand content to Apple's set-top box. The channel offers a variety of news and entertainment offerings, including local news in select markets and access to five decades of historical footage from ABC's archives. As with many of the recent channel additions to the Apple TV, ABC News is only available to users in the United States for the time being, although ABC says availability will expand worldwide "in the coming weeks".
ABC News on Apple TV offers more choices for how, when and where to get the video content you want. Unlike other news offerings, ABC News provides a robust line-up of original and on-demand content and up to four live streaming events at once, allowing viewers to select and view the live news they care about most. From court trials and breaking news to the daily White House press briefing, live continuous coverage of the day’s top stories, videos and more are instantly accessible with ABC News on Apple TV.
Among the features on the new ABC News channel:
- 24/7 access to live and on-demand video with four separate live video streams to choose from.
- Video news updates on the hour and four to five live reports per day to cover breaking news.
- Local content from nine television stations around the United States: WABC (New York), KABC (Los Angeles), WLS (Chicago), WPVI (Philadelphia), KGO (San Francisco), KTRK (Houston), WTVD (Raleigh), KFSN (Fresno), and WISN (Milwaukee).
- Curated stories and videos highlighting the top news stories of the moment, updated throughout the day.
- 50 years of historical footage from ABC News' archives, including "This Week in History" and "The Day in Pictures" features.
The Disney/ABC/ESPN media conglomerate has had a close relationship with Apple for a number of years, driven in large part by Disney's acquisition of Pixar, which was owned by Steve Jobs. As a result of the transaction, Jobs became Disney's largest individual shareholder and retained a seat on Disney's board of directors.
The fruits of that relationship can be seen on Apple TV, which offers an existing Watch ABC channel, a trio of Disney television channels, a Watch ESPN channel, and three channels (A&E, Lifetime, History) from Disney/ABC's joint venture with Hearst Corporation. Disney is also a part owner of the Hulu subscription service that is available on Apple TV.
Update 7:08 AM: In addition to ABC News, several other new channels have appeared on Apple TV today, including PBS Kids, AOL On, and Willow, a sports channel dedicated to international cricket. The Flickr channel has also been redesigned.
Wednesday June 18, 2014 10:07 am PDT by Juli Clover
Developers who have installed the newest iOS 8 beta, the latest version of OS X Yosemite, and the current Apple TV beta, all released yesterday, have noticed a new pop up notification suggesting the Apple TV will gain some of the Continuity features Apple introduced during its Worldwide Developers Conference.
As noted by 9to5Mac, the notifications are being received on Macs running on the same local WiFi network as Apple TVs that also have the newest software, suggesting at the least, that with Yosemite, Macs will be able to interact with the Apple TV in new ways.
It is unclear how Yosemite and the Apple TV might interact as any Continuity features between the two are not yet functional, but it is possible that a feature like Handoff could be used in conjunction with AirPlay, allowing a movie, TV show, or music to be seamlessly transferred from one device to another.
It's also possible the Apple TV could display notifications when a phone call is incoming to an iPhone, much like the Mac and the iPad are able to do. Call notifications and on-screen caller ID are not far-fetched, as some telecommunications providers that offer TV, Internet, and phone access are able to display caller information on screen.
Continuity features like Handoff appear to require Bluetooth 4.0, a feature that is only available in the third-generation Apple TV. Yesterday's update was only available for third-generation Apple TVs, providing more evidence that the device is likely to gain some Continuity features.
OS X Yosemite, the new Apple TV software, and iOS 8 are all expected to be released to the public in the fall after an extended beta testing period. Apple is also said to be working on an upgraded Apple TV set top box with new capabilities, which could also take advantage of Continuity features.
Wednesday June 18, 2014 7:28 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
On the same day it launched a new entry-level iMac model, Apple also used the downtime to adjust the prices on other hardware in some European markets. The price cuts we've noticed affect European models of the Mac mini, the European Apple TV and iMac models in the UK.
Pricing on the Mac mini dropped between €30 and €60, depending on the country and model. Most European stores are now offering the entry-level Mac Mini for €619 with the quad-core and OS X server models selling for €819 and €1019, respectively, although some euro countries such as Germany are showing slightly lower pricing of €599/€799/€999. In the UK, the entry-level Mac Mini remains the same at £499, with price drops between €30 and €50 being applied to the quad-core and server models.
Apple also cut the prices on the Apple TV in Europe, reducing the cost by €10/£20. The once €109/£99 media streaming device is now available for €99/£79 throughout most of Apple's European stores. While Europe saw a reduction, the Apple TV price remains the same in the US at $99.
Along with the new entry-level 21.5-inch iMac, Apple UK also lowered the cost of existing iMac models. The existing 21.5-inch models were lowered by £100, while the 27-inch models saw similar reductions of £150. The reduction appears to limited only to the UK with most of Europe and the US still selling the iMac at its original pricing.
Alongside the second iOS 8 beta released earlier today, Apple also released a new version of the Apple TV software. The two updates appear to have laid the groundwork for Family Sharing, as there's a new section for "Family Purchases" in the iOS App Store's Purchased tab and a new iCloud Family setting for the Apple TV.
As noted by 9to5Mac, Family Sharing on the Apple TV (and on the App Store) is not yet functional, but as described by Apple during the Worldwide Developers Conference, it allows users to share purchased content across accounts.
Image courtesy of 9to5Mac
Families of up to six people with iTunes accounts that use the same credt card can share content like apps, iBooks, music, movies, and more, across all of their devices using iCloud. Family Sharing also lets families share photos, videos, a calendar, reminders, and more, to keep everyone in the family connected.
On the Apple TV, it is likely Family Sharing will let users access TV shows, movies, and music that has been downloaded by family members.
Today's Apple TV software update was only available for the third-generation Apple TV (and Rev A), so it is unclear if features like Family Sharing will be limited to those devices, excluding second generation Apple TVs.
Though it is not yet available, Family Sharing will be implemented before OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 are released to the public this fall.
Thursday June 12, 2014 11:50 pm PDT by Richard Padilla
TouchArcade has posted a roundup featuring a look at the surprising number of the new iOS gaming controllers shown off at this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event in Los Angeles, California.
Mad Catz's C.T.R.L.i controller was described as TouchArcade's favorite of the various controllers shown. It features a full-sized design with console-style controls including face buttons, analog sticks, shoulder bumpers and triggers.
The controller can connect to any iOS 7 device through Bluetooth functionality, and also includes an optional clip for attaching an iPhone. Other controllers like BigBen Interactive's GamePhone Controller Pro, Hori's MFi controller, Signal's RP-One, and Steelseries' Stratus XL also showed off similar full-sized designs.
Meanwhile, controllers like BigBen Interactive's GameGrip and PhoneJoy's MFi controller showed off a design that wraps around an iOS device similar to the MOGA Ace Power and the Logitech Powershell.
Phonejoy's controller in particular contains the ability to fully collapse while not in use, while BigBen's GameGrip can wrap around an iPad mini and even a full-sized iPad. Razer also demoed its Junglecat controller, which contains a sliding mechanism with face buttons and a directional pad.
The introduction of all these new iOS controllers comes as rumors surrounding the next-generation Apple TV have ramped up, with some of that speculation focusing on the device's gaming capabilities. To this point, some have speculated that Apple could utilize iOS gaming controllers, a set-top box, and an App Store ecosystem to become a major force in the console gaming industry. Original Xbox engineer Nat Brown and Steam founder Gabe Newell shared sentiments that Apple could take the lead in the games console market with such a system.
Iconfactory software engineer Sean Heber (via Daring Fireball) recently wrote a blog post on how Apple could use its new Metal and AirPlay peer-to-peer technologies introduced in iOS 8 to provide a new console gaming experience with the Apple TV and iOS gaming controllers. He explains that Apple could ultimately allow users to use their iOS devices as controllers with minimal input lag, as games would be playable on both the Apple TV and iOS devices:
The key difference is where the AirPlay extension app actually executes - the AirPlay extension app will be automatically uploaded to whatever AppleTV you are currently AirPlaying with and will run directly on the AppleTV natively instead. This means no video streaming lag and minimal controller lag. Your iPhone would then turn into a generic game controller with onscreen controls or, if you have a physical shell controller attached to your iPhone, it activates that instead.
...You can play without needing to purchase the game on that particular AppleTV, without needing to sign in with your iCloud account to access your purchases, without needing to get their wifi password, or indeed without there even needing to be a wifi network to join in the first place. All without any hassle. When you go home, you take the game and any earned progress along with you in your pocket.
In addition to gaming, Apple's next-generation Apple may also feature cable-box capabilities and perhaps a streaming TV service through a partnership with Comcast. However, Apple's iTunes Chief Eddy Cue said recently that Apple is continuing to work on a way to improve the television experience, but a fix is "complicated."
Wednesday May 28, 2014 9:30 pm PDT by Husain Sumra
Eddy Cue, Apple's SVP of Internet Software and Services, and new Apple employee Jimmy Iovine sat down withRe/code's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher tonight at the inaugural Code Conference and were asked about the much-rumored Apple TV.
Echoing past Apple sentiments, Cue said today's TV experience "sucks" and has "a long way to go." He confirmed that Apple is continuing to work on a way to improve television, but a fix is "complicated."
The problems aren't complicated. Solving them is complicated, because there are lots of parties involved.
According to Cue, many of the problems with TV are related to a lack of global standards and complicated rights issues with content; issues that are far easier to deal with in the music industry. Cue does confirm, however, that Apple is talking with various industry players to work on fixing TV.
Specifically, Cue noted that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts "is the best" and that Cue himself is a Comcast subscriber that is able to watch ESPN and HBO on his Apple TV, which he says Apple will keep evolving and improving. He noted that Apple is looking to add even more content. In March, it was reported that Apple was in talks with Comcast about a potential streaming TV service on a future Apple TV.
Despite Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson speculating that Iovine could be key in any potential TV deals, Iovine told Swisher and Mossberg that he was "not going anywhere near TV". He did, however, acknowledge the challenges of movie curation, pointing to difficulties in finding content to watch on the various video-on-demand platforms like iTunes and streaming services like Netflix.
Apple does not have plans to use the company's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference to debut new Apple TV hardware, its related software, or the iWatch, reports John Paczkowski of Re/code.
Citing sources familiar with Apple's plans, Paczkowski confirms that Apple's big announcements will focus on OS X 10.10, iOS 8, and possibly Healthbook, an app Apple is said to be developing to aggregate fitness and health information.
Sources familiar with Apple's plans tell Code/red that Tim Cook will not use WWDC to unveil Apple's mythical wearable device. Nor will he use it to show off a new Apple TV, or even preview the new software the company is developing for it. Which makes perfect sense, really. There's little point in Apple unveiling a new OS in advance of a significant hardware update.
Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which starts on June 2, has historically been used as a platform for unveiling new operating system software. Apple has, however, occasionally debuted new hardware at the event, including new MacBook Airs in 2013 and the Retina Macbook Pro in 2012.
Though the company does not have plans to unveil an updated Apple TV set-top box at WWDC, the product is said to be in the works. The revamped box is rumored to include an App Store, gaming support, iOS 7 controller integration, and possibly new content deals.
Apple may have had plans to debut the box earlier in 2014, but according to a recent product roadmap from often reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, we may not see an updated Apple TV until the third quarter of 2014.
As for the iWatch, which also remains in development, a late 2014 release date is expected.
Thursday May 1, 2014 7:23 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
According to 9to5Mac, Apple may use WWDC 2014 to focus on OS X 10.10, giving the desktop OS more attention than iOS 8 during the annual developer conference. Apple allegedly has been moving iOS user interface developers to the OS X teams in order to finish up the new design in time for early June conference.
As has been previously reported, Apple is not merging the two operating systems, opting to keep iOS and OS X as separate entities, but the next version of OS X may share similar design elements with iOS 7.
The new look will have similar toggle designs to iOS 7, sharper window corners, more defined icons across the system, and more white space than the current version. However, OS X characteristics like the Finder, multi-window multitasking, and Mission Control will not disappear in favor of a more iOS-like experience.
Apple is targeting the desktop OS for release in the fall along with new hardware that will ship with this latest OS X version. Though the internal development codename of OS X 10.10 is "Syrah," the shipping name is still unclear, with Apple apparently securing trademarks for popular California locations that would match the new theme started with "Mavericks."
On the iOS 8 side of development, Apple is allegedly pushing some features of iOS 8 off to version 8.1 as the company focuses intently on its next version of OS X. Though Apple may present most of the new features of iOS 8 at WWDC next month, some notable additions such as transit functionality in Maps may not be available until later versions of iOS 8.
iCloud will reportedly see some significant changes in the coming year with improvements on the developer side that make it easier to implement support for the service. Siri may also see Shazam integration, allowing users to identify a song using the voice assistant. Lastly, iOS 8 is reportedly being optimized for Apple's upcoming A8 processor and the rumored larger display of the iPhone 6.
The new iPhone’s larger display, as well as a “high-priority” iOS device that is not an iPhone, also lends itself to another core iOS 8 addition. The feature, dubbed by Apple employees as “multi-resolution support,” is designed to improve the performance of both App Store applications and the general iOS operating system across multiple new iOS device resolutions.
Apple TV is also now a priority for Apple, with the company rumored to be bringing in hardware and software engineering resources from within the company to work on the next generation device. Apple may be concurrently developing new hardware as well as a revamped iOS-based software system to power the device. Apple had hoped to introduce the hardware in early 2014, but the product's debut has been pushed off. It is, however, unclear whether a new Apple TV will make its way into the WWDC keynote.
Wednesday April 23, 2014 7:38 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Amid persistant rumors that Apple is developing a revamped Apple TV set-top box, new code appearing in iOS 7.1 indicates that the company is indeed working on building in support for Siri voice input on the Apple TV, as highlighted by 9to5Mac. The references are included in both iOS 7.1 and iOS 7.1.1, but not in earlier releases such as iOS 7.0.6.
The file is a supporting property-list resource for Assistant (Apple's internal name for Siri), containing information about the feature. The UIDeviceFamily array declares what platforms are compatible with the feature.
As shown by Apple’s documentation, '1' and '2' represent the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad families. The '3' represents the Apple TV family.
References to a new Apple TV model were previously found in iOS 7 builds, and today's information suggests that voice input and feedback are likely to be included on the new device.
Apple's launch plans for a new Apple TV box remain unclear, with rumors of a late 2013 launch giving way to reports centering around an introduction in March or April of this year. Those rumors were then quashed by The Loop's Jim Dalrymple, leaving uncertainty about Apple's television plans. A recent product roadmap prediction from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that the new Apple TV could arrive around September or October of this year.
Tuesday April 22, 2014 12:00 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Over the weekend, Apple's first-generation Apple TVs were unable to access iTunes, an issue that affected Apple TV owners worldwide.
It appears that Apple has resolved the problem as of Tuesday, with many first-generation Apple TV owners reporting on Apple's Support Communities that their Apple TVs are once again able to access iTunes.
Monday April 21, 2014 7:50 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple today has added new channels from A&E Networks to its Apple TV, including A&E, The History Channel and Lifetime. Select Apple TV owners will be able to watch episodes from popular TV shows such as Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars, and Project Runway.
These new channels on the Apple TV offer a preview to all users, but full content is only available to cable television subscribers. Currently, the service is available to customers who subscribe to DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, and Cablevision Optimum, with support for additional providers coming in the near future.
The addition of these channels is part of a larger push by A&E Networks to expand their content beyond broadcast TV. Earlier this month, the network updated both its A&E [iTunes Link] and History Channel apps [iTunes Link], letting iOS owners stream live episodes of popular shows to their iPhone or iPad. Similar to the Apple TV, this iOS-based live streaming requires a valid cable subscription.
Apple's first generation Apple TVs have lost their ability to connect to iTunes and appears to be affecting users worldwide.
A lengthy Apple Discussions page shows that the problem started on the 17th of April and has persisted for 1st generation Apple TV users. Forum poster georgevargas describes the issue:
As of last night I had full access to the iTunes Store. Since this morning I was getting an Itunes Store Not Available message, and after unplugging the AppleTv the iTunes Store access completly disappeared except for movie trailers.
Users have gone through the usual diagnostics, including rebooting and restoring, but have found that nothing has restored connectivity. MacRumors has confirmed the issue on our own 1st generation Apple TV.
The initial timing of the outage corresponds to the FaceTime not working for iOS 6 users, suggesting some internal changes by Apple has affected both services. Some users are speculating that internal communication upgrades related to the Heartbleed security issue could be related. Apple denied that Heartbleed affected any of its "key services" but did not elaborate on what those might be.
Apple has not provided any statement on if and when 1st generation Apple TV functionality will be restored or not. The first generation Apple TV was released in January, 2007 and was sold until September, 2010.
Update 4/22 12:00 PM PT: Apple appears to have resolved the issue preventing first-generation Apple TVs from connecting to iTunes. Many users are reporting that their Apple TVs are once again functional.
Wednesday April 9, 2014 4:29 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple is set to release a slew of new products during the third quarter of 2014 according to KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, who often provides reliable information on Apple’s product lineup.
In a 2014 product roadmap, Kuo suggests Apple will introduce its first new product of the year, a lower-cost iMac, during the second quarter. Soon after, during the third quarter, Kuo predicts Apple will introduce an upgraded iPad Air and iPad mini, followed by an iWatch in two separate sizes, and a 4.7-inch iPhone.
An upgraded Apple TV set-top box will come somewhat later, as will the rumored 12-inch ultra slim MacBook and upgraded Retina MacBook Pros. Later, in the fourth quarter, Apple will introduce the 5.5-inch iPhone, which is said to be delayed due to issues with in-cell display technology. Along with his roadmap, Kuo also gives specific information on each of Apple’s upcoming products.
- iWatch: Kuo believes the iWatch will ship during the end of the third quarter, offering biometric functionality, integration with the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and a "fashionable appearance." As has been previously suggested, he predicts the device will come in two sizes, with a 1.3-inch and 1.5-inch flexible AMOLED display. It will also include a sapphire cover lens, biometric recognition, an NFC chip, wireless charging, a 200 to 250 mAh battery, and a slim and light design. Kuo also believes that Apple will offer the iWatch at multiple price points, with the most expensive version costing upwards of $1,000.
- iPhone 6: Supporting previous iPhone 6 rumors, Kuo believes the device will come in two sizes: 4.7 and 5.5-inches, with resolutions of 1334x750 (326ppi) and 1920 x 1080 (401 ppi), respectively. Both models will come with an A8 processor, 1GB of RAM, LTPS display panels, optical image stabilization, and Touch ID. Kuo points to a 10 to 20 percent narrower bezel, a 6.5–7.0mm thickness, metal casings, and NFC integration. Mass shipments of the 4.7-inch version are expected in September, with the 5.5-inch version shipping later. Kuo suggests that only the 64GB 5.5-inch version will use sapphire displays.
- iPad Air 2: The second-generation iPad Air is expected to adopt Touch ID, an A8 processor, and an improved camera with a resolution of eight megapixels. Kuo believes the second iPad Air could come earlier in the year than the previous iPad Air, which was released in October.
- iPad mini with Retina Display: Like the iPad Air, a new Retina mini could gain an A8 processor and Touch ID, but Kuo believes it will retain the same form factor. He also suggests that the older iPad mini with Retina display could be sold at a lower cost.
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro: Kuo believes that Apple is indeed working on a 12.9-inch iPad, but he does not expect it to be launched in 2014.
- 12-inch MacBook Air: As rumored, Apple is believed to be preparing an ultrathin MacBook Air that incorporates a touchpad without buttons and functions without a fan. It is also expected to include a higher-resolution display.
- iMac: A lower-priced iMac is believed to be on the horizon, which Kuo says could help boost iMac shipments by up to 23 percent. It could be Apple’s first product launch of the year.
- Apple TV: Apple is not expected to launch a full television set this year, but an upgraded set top box with an App Store and motion control technology is expected.
While Kuo’s predictions do include many rumors that have previously surfaced over the past several months from a variety of sources, his roadmap gives a solid overview of what we might expect from Apple in 2014. We've also broken out several of his predictions into individual posts that can be found here: iWatch, iPad, iPhone 6, MacBook Air.
Steve Jobs outlined a potential future for the Apple TV in an email correspondence with top Apple executives in 2010, a year before his death, noting potential plans for the "Apple TV 2" that included TV subscriptions, apps, browser and a "magic wand" control device. The email was published today as a part of Apple's lawsuit trial with Samsung (via The Verge).
8. Apple TV 2 - David Moody, Jeff Robbin
- Strategy: stay in the living room game and make a great "must have" accessory for iOS devices
- sales so far, projections for this holiday season
- add content:
- NBC, CBS, Viacom, HBO, ...
- TV subscription?
- where do we go from here?
- apps, browser, magic wand?
While the potential Apple TV features aren't mentioned in concrete terms, they do provide insight into features Apple was internally discussing and considering in 2010. Additionally, the internal email also confirms that Apple has considered using its patented Nintendo Wiimote-like MagicWand to control Apple TV.
Jobs' email also goes over other subjects for Apple's 2010 Top 100, a secret meeting in which top Apple employees discuss strategy for the upcoming year, including plans for the "plus" iPhone 4 that was eventually named the iPhone 4s and a low cost iPhone model based on the iPod touch that would replace the iPhone 3GS.
Plans for the future of iOS are also mentioned, with Jobs noting that strategy should be to "catch up to Android where we are behind (notifications, tethering, speech...) and leapfrog them (Siri, ...)".
The subject of Apple's now defunct MobileMe service makes up another large part of the email, with Jobs acknowledging that Google was "way ahead of Apple in cloud services" and that both the search giant and Microsoft had better technology than Apple but had not "figured it out yet". The email also notes that Apple's plan was to improve MobileMe to the point where it tied all Apple's products together and made its ecosystem even more "sticky", so that it would be more difficult for customers to leave for a competitor.
Finally, the email makes mention of Apple's desire to further its lead over Google in music and great apps in the App Store as a part of Apple's "holy war" with Google, with mentions for both The Beatles and iTunes in the Cloud.
Wednesday April 2, 2014 8:50 pm PDT by Husain Sumra
Earlier today Amazon launched its Fire TV media streaming box, entering a market that features fierce competition from Roku and its streaming boxes, Google's Chromecast and the Apple TV. To help set it apart from its competitors, Amazon included an app store, strong gaming support and much more for its box, which are features that have been heavily rumored for Apple's next generation streaming box.
While gaming on a media streaming box is nothing new, as Roku has allowed users to play games like Angry Birds on its devices, Amazon has gone through great lengths, including purchasingKiller Instinct game developer Double Helix and reaching out to third-party publishers like EA, Disney, Ubisoft and Minecraft creator Mojang, to bring 133 high quality games to the Fire TV, with more arriving in the future. In addition, they've launched a $39 Xbox-like controller to make it easier for users to play advanced games on the box.
Apple has long been rumored to be including gaming support on the next version of the Apple TV with support for gaming controllers. More recently, Apple and third-party hardware manufacturers have begun shipping iOS 7 game controllers for iPhones, but they've been poorly received due to build quality issues and high price tags.
To power these high quality games, Amazon has outfitted its Fire TV with a quad-core processor, which Amazon says boasts 3 times the power of Apple TV, a dedicated graphics engine and 2 GB of RAM, which is four times the amount in the Apple TV.
While its unclear what specs the new Apple TV could sport, it's likely it gets a significant improvement over the currently used A5 chip to the much more powerful A7 chip, which is used in the iPad Air and would allow developers to easily port over their best-selling iPad and iPhone games and vice versa.
Other rumored changes for the new Apple TV include a brand new interface that blends TV listings with apps and video from the web rather than a the current setup of a grid of app icons. Amazon's Fire TV does something similar according to a hands-on report by The Verge, displaying various movies and TV shows next to apps and games when the device is turned on.
In addition, Apple has been rumored to want to include some sort of Siri-like voice control to allow users to easily navigate through the interface without a remote control. While Roku already had voice control on their media streaming box, Amazon has included voice control "that just works" on its Fire TV remote control, allowing users to bypass typing for voice searches.
However, the largest difference between the new Apple TV and Fire TV could be content. While Amazon says its streaming device is "open" and has an app store, Apple has been long rumored to also include an App Store to allow for a greater variety and quicker access to more "channels" than ever before. While that would put the two boxes at parity, Apple has also been rumored to be discussing a possible partnership with Comcast for a streaming TV service on the new Apple TV, allowing users to switch between live TV via Comcast, a Hulu-like on-demand video service and third-party apps like HBO Go, YouTube and Netflix.
Apple has been rumored to be launching their new Apple TV as early as April.
Friday March 28, 2014 2:09 am PDT by Richard Padilla
Speaking at the inaugural Code/Media event held by technology website Re/code (via CNET), Roku CEO and founder Anthony Wood called the Apple TV "a money loser" for Apple, likening the product to an accessory for the iPad and questioning why Apple would want to sell more units of the device. Wood's remarks come as Apple is said to be preparing a new version of the Apple TV that will integrate with Comcast's network to enable a streaming TV service for users.
"Apple TV is essentially an accessory for the iPad. They lose money, which is unusual for Apple," he said Thursday, speaking at the Recode conference here. "If you're losing money, why would you want to sell more?"
“Every year about this time, the Amazon box comes up that they’re about to launch. And the new Apple TV is about to launch … We’ve been competing with Apple TV for six years now, and every year, we’ve grown,” Wood told Kafka. ”We’re in the TV platform business. Our goal is to be the operating system for TV.”
The CEO also went on to tell the crowd that sales of the Roku doubled after Apple dropped the price of the Apple TV from $249 to $99 two years ago. Wood's comments are notable given that the Apple TV reportedly generated $1 billion last year, which was revealed by Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company's 2014 shareholder's meeting.
Roku refreshed its set-top box line with three new models joining its flagship Roku 3 last September, and also introduced a $50 HDMI streaming-stick to compete directly with Google's Chromecast and the Apple TV. Despite the Apple TV's growing popularity, however, a report last August from Parks Associates indicated that the Roku has proven to be more popular than Apple's set top box, as 14% of U.S. broadband households were said to be using streaming media boxes.
Apple is expected to launch a new Apple TV sometime in the near future, with some rumors pointed to a refined set-top box that may include gaming and cable box-like capabilities in addition to the aforementioned streaming TV integration.
A report from The Information also added details to the forthcoming device, claiming that it will feature a dramatically overhauled interface, which will blend TV listings with apps and video from the web, with Apple asking iOS game developers to make their titles compatible with its new product so that users can play games on their TV using iOS devices as controllers.
With rumors of a revamped Apple TV circulating over the past few months, German magazine Curved has been exploring some concepts to help get discussion rolling, beginning earlier this month with a new box similar to the current one but with styling similar to Apple's latest iOS devices and with a versatile iPod touch-like remote.
"Apple TV Air" concept (bottom) size comparison with current Apple TV and remote (top)
The concept envisions the "Apple TV Air" package containing two similarly sized devices: the dongle with a cap for the HDMI connector and a separate remote offering the same button configuration as on the current Apple TV remote. Both devices would be made of plastic to allow for a Bluetooth wireless connection to control the dongle hidden away behind the television set.
"Apple TV Air" dongle plugged into HDMI port
Apple has been rumored to be exploring a number of enhancements to the Apple TV, including enhanced game support that could see the launch of an App Store for the device. Apple has also been rumored to be looking at integrating AirPort base station functionality for the next Apple TV. Depending on how aggressive Apple wants to be with the new device's capabilities, it may be a stretch for the company to fit all of the necessary components into a dongle, but Curved's concept serves as a good focal point for discussion about directions Apple could take.
Sunday March 23, 2014 6:13 pm PDT by Richard Padilla
Apple is in talks with Comcast about using the cable provider's network for a streaming TV service to be integrated in a future version of the Apple TV, reportsThe Wall Street Journal. According to the report, Apple's set top-box would be able to access Comcast's wide variety of channels for a monthly subscription, with the Apple TV receiving "special treatment" from Comcast when connected to its cable network to ensure that it would bypass congestion on the Internet for optimal streaming.
Apple's intention is to allow users to stream live and on-demand TV programming and digital-video recordings stored in the "cloud," effectively taking the place of a traditional cable set-top box.
...Under the plan Apple proposed to Comcast, Apple's video streams would be treated as a "managed service" traveling in Internet protocol format—similar to cable video-on-demand or phone service. Those services travel on a special portion of the cable pipe that is separate from the more congested portion reserved for public Internet access.
People familiar with the matter said that while Apple would like a separate "flow" for its video traffic, it isn't asking for its traffic to be prioritized over other Internet-based services.
The report also adds that Apple and Comcast are still in early discussions, and that Apple's ultimate goal would be to ensure that Apple TV users receive the same quality that Comcast's regular cable boxes receive. Apple has proposed to Comcast that users would sign onto the new device using an existing or new Apple ID, and asked for a cut of the monthly subscriptions paid for by customers.
Apple has traditionally positioned the Apple TV as a "hobby product" with occasional refreshes adding new features. In January 2014 however, Apple revamped its online storefront adding a new category for the Apple TV alongside the categories for the Mac, iPhone, and iPod product lines suggesting that the product may be moving out of the hobby status assigned to it.
CEO Tim Cook also revealed during the company's 2014 shareholders meeting that the Apple TV generated $1 billion last year, noting it was "a little more difficult to call [the Apple TV] a hobby these days" given its growth.
Apple is expected to launch a new Apple TV sometime in the near future, with some rumors pointing to a refined set-top box that may include gaming and cable box-like capabilities. The move would also come as Comcast announced that it would be merging with Time Warner Cable in February, which Apple was reported to be in talks with for quite some time to provide TV shows and other media.
Update:The Information has shared more details on Apple's future set-top box, stating that the device will feature a "dramatically overhauled interface" which will blend TV listings with apps and video from the web. The report also notes that the next-generation Apple TV will place a "big emphasis" on gaming, with Apple asking developers of iOS games to make their titles compatible with its new product so that users can play games on their TV screen using iOS devices as controllers.
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