UPDATE: After pulling the Apple TV’s most recent software update from due to it causing issues on some devices, Apple has re-released it in a more stable form. You’ll want to download and install the new software even if you applied the previous update as it includes stability fixes. See our original post below to hear about all the great changes that Apple has included in this latest version of its operating system for the Apple TV!
Since this post was written, Apple has pulled the update to the Apple TV from its servers due to some bugs in the release. If you’ve already updated your Apple TV, there’s nothing you need to do. If you didn’t have a chance to update before Apple pulled the update down, it shouldn’t be too long before they re-release it. Just hang tight! We’ll update this post when the update becomes available again.
Today Apple released a significant software update to its streaming media box, the Apple TV. In this post, I’ll overview how to download and install the software update and then we’ll take a look at the new and different features included in this version of the Apple TV’s operating system.
Downloading & Installing the Software Update – First, if you own an Apple TV and haven’t updated your device’s software yet, you’ll want to head over to Settings/General/Update Software. After navigating to this location in the Settings app, you’ll be presented with the option to download and install the update. After confirming that you’d like to do just that, your Apple TV will prepare for the update and then reboot before going into the update process. You’ll see some screens like the ones posted here. Just hang tight while the process takes place. After the update finishes installing, you’ll be presented with this screen overviewing the great new features your Apple TV has gained!
New Features – This Apple TV software update comes packed with some great new features. Let’s walk through them one by one.
iTunes Radio – Apple has joined the likes of Spotify and Pandora and now has its own web based streaming music service, iTunes Radio. You’ll find iTunes Radio included in a new update to iTunes and in iOS 7. Apple has also pushed it to the Apple TV with this new update, and it feels right at home. With iTunes Radio, you can create your own curated radio stations based on a song, artist, or genre and listen to them on your Mac, iOS device, and now your Apple TV. Your stations are saved to your Apple ID and will sync across all your devices. What’s more, with an iTunes Match subscription (which was already a great deal at $25 a year) you’ll have the pleasure of ad-free listening. After using iTunes Radio on my Apple TV for just a few minutes it’s clear that Apple has done a great job with the music curation. Every song that came up felt right. The addition of iTunes Radio to the Apple TV means that I no longer need to use Airplay to throw audio from other streaming radio apps from my iOS devices to my Apple TV. It’s great to have streaming radio natively on the Apple TV. I’m excited to try out iTunes Radio on my other Apple devices and have my stations sync up.
iCloud Photos & Videos – This is the app formerly known as Photo Streams. Aside from updating the app icon to be more consistent with the iOS 7 Photos app icon, Apple has included a number of improved features in the iCloud Photos & Videos app. As the name implies, you can now view photos and videos added to your shared Photo Streams from your other Apple devices.
Podcasts – Much like the iCloud Photos & Videos app, Podcasts isn’t a new app to the Apple TV. It has, however, received a significant improvement that I’ve been hoping for for a while: the ability to sync podcasts and podcast stations between Apple TV, iTunes, and your iOS devices. Podcast syncing has existed between iTunes and iOS for a while, so it was a no-brainer to enable it for the Apple TV as well.
iTunes Music Store – Apple TV owners can now actually purchase music from the iTunes Store directly on the Apple TV. Previously, all users could do was stream music they had already purchased from the cloud.
Airplay from iCloud – Airplay, the Apple TV’s secret weapon, has also received some very significant improvement with Apple’s latest software update. Now you can use Airplay to stream content you’ve purchased on Apple’s iTunes Store directly to your Apple TV from the cloud rather than streaming it from your iOS device. The other benefit to Airplay from iCloud is that other people can also access the content they’ve purchased without having to sign out of your Apple ID account, a feature which was painfully absent before.
Great new content – Though they were actually quietly pushed to the Apple TV prior to this software update, Disney’s and the Smithsonian’s apps along with Vevo and the Weather Channel also get an official shout-out in this release.
This software update for the Apple TV adds a lot of great new features to Apple’s already very useful streaming media box. Couple that with the fact that, as of recently, Amazon Instant Video’s iOS app received full Airplay streaming support and the reasons not to buy an Apple TV keep getting fewer and farther between. It is also rumored, according to iDownloadBlog which sites other sources, that a hardware refresh for the Apple TV may be coming next month. It really is an exciting time for Apple’s shiny black streaming media box.
If you’re considering purchasing an Apple TV, check out TeachMeiOS’ review here.