New Apple TV
Last, but most certainly not least, comes the brand new Apple TV, also announced at yesterday’s (7th March 2012) presentation. Just before the announcement of the iPad, Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) slipped a smaller release in. While this may only be a very small update, it brings quite a few features to the Apple TV that people have been looking for.
“Apple TV is a tiny entertainment powerhouse that plays the content you love from iTunes, Netflix, YouTube and more on your widescreen TV. In up to 1080p HD. Just plug it in and discover a whole world of films, TV programmes, photos, music and more. You’re gonna need a better sofa.”
Completely New UI
With the launch of this new hardware comes an accompanying piece of software. The Apple TV has been updated from Apple TV OS 4.4.4 to 5.0 (this may get confusing as Apple TV DOESN’T follow the same update numbers as iOS). This new piece of software is available on 2nd gen Apple TVs as well as the new ones. The main feature of 5.0 is a completely redesigned UI or User Interface (basically the menu system you interact with). The options have gotten bigger, more colourful and better organised.
Apple TV now supports iTunes Match (the service in iTunes that allows you to store your entire iTunes library in the cloud) so that you can retrieve all of your music from the cloud and play tunes directly on your HDTV, with no need to stream from your laptop.
Photo Stream is now also included, allowing you to view all of those glossy photos you’ve been taking on your brand new iOS 5.1 iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, and show them on the big screen, again with no need to stream directly from a device.
There’s also now a lot of support for third party applications, such as Netflix. If you're a Netflix subscriber you can now stream films directly from the cloud to your TV.
1080p Video Streaming
The new Apple TV's biggest feature is its ability to stream full 1080p video. This is for videos bought from the brand new iTunes store (comes in iTunes 10.6) which has support for 1080p video downloads, as well as Airplay mirroring (but we’ll get onto that in a minute). 1080p is considered full “HD”. Whereas the old Apple TV would only allow you to play in 720p, the new update brings a whole new meaning to the term “HD”.
Better Airplay Mirroring
Airplay mirroring allows your iPhone 4S or your iPad 2/new iPad to wirelessly mirror it’s display on your TV screen using the Apple TV as a buffer. This is great for playing games, watching films you have on your iPad and much more, giving you the ability to take your amazing devices up onto the big screen. Now with the New Apple TV, Airplay is even easier, and much better. With 1080p mirroring, you can experience the true beauty of your device up on the big screen. No wires required. You can use your iPad as a game controller, for the game that’s playing on screen.
Download the "Remote" iPhone app and you can control Apple TV using your smartphone. No more searching down the back of the sofa for that remote (unless you lose your Smartphone down the back of the sofa of course).
In Summary, the biggest Apple TV feature upgrade is the ability to stream and mirror in true 1080p HD. Some will see that a worthy investment and rush out to buy a new one, while others who already own an Apple TV may think that it’s not enough of an upgrade to warrant buying a new one. The decision is down to you at the end of the day.
The 2nd gen Apple TV will receive the 5.0 update bringing with it the new 3rd party apps and brand new UI, but will only be able to output 720p. The Apple TV replaces the old one in the Apple store at the £99 price point.