Apple TV is a digital media receiver that was released by Apple back in 2007. The device is designed for IPTV digital content playback from sources such as YouTube, Netflix, Flickr, iTunes Store, MobileMe and so on. In September last year, Apple introduced the second generation of the Apple TV which features the new AirPlay feature. Now if you are an owner of the Apple TV 2G, then you owe it to yourself to download the latest, albeit unexpected, firmware update for the device. iOS 4.3 (8F455) for Apple TV 2 is now live.
According to the official support document of Apple TV, the main changes are:
TV show purchases: Purchase TV shows on Apple TV. Shows purchased on Apple TV can be re-downloaded on other iOS devices. Shows purchased on other iOS devices or with iTunes automatically show up as available to play on Apple TV.
Vimeo: Browse and watch millions of user-uploaded videos found on the Vimeo service, for free.
The purchased TV show purchases as explained by Daring Fireball's John Gruber:
You can buy — not just rent but buy — new episodes directly from your Apple TV, and access and stream any TV show episodes you’ve previously purchased using your iTunes account. (I’m not quite sure if it has all episodes — but it’s showing me all the TV shows I can remember buying from iTunes.)
In addition to that, it seems that Apple has added TV Shows to the "Purchased" section of the both the PC/Mac and iOS versions of iTunes. This way users who have purchased and downloaded TV shows can re-download them in the future. Definitely a step-up from the previous setup where TV show episodes are only rented for 99 cents each. Although according to John Gruber, this feature is not available for all TV shows, or at least not yet. He speculates that Apple might be in process of rolling out the availability of the TV shows:
UPDATE 2: It’s definitely not available for all shows, or, if it is, Apple hasn’t finished rolling it out yet — I’ve purchased all four seasons of Mad Men via iTunes and none of them appear in my account.
UPDATE 3: Looks like it’s just a rollout thing. Three seasons of Mad Men are now in my Purchased list.
Aside from the commercial content, the latest software update for the Apple TV 2 adds support for another video service, Vimeo, in addition of course to well known ones like YouTube and Netflix. Vimeo is a high end video sharing website that's dedicated to hosting user-made videos which means no commercial content and the likes. 10% of Vimeo uploads are in high definition.
Apple TV 2 owners should definitely get their hands on the new update considering the new features that it can provide. As of now, Version 4.4 is out for developers only and is based off the iOS 5. The new features seems to be exclusive to the United States for now.
The Apple TV 2G is available for $99. But despite its seemingly low price, its sales isn't exactly that great as most people would rather have other alternatives with a better range of features.
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