Quietly this weekend, Apple, Inc., released a minor update to its so-far disappointing Apple TV software. The update, delivered around 3 o’clock Saturday morning, was quietly announced in a press release on ReutersYE (Youth Education). The computer maker and self-described New Media Darling has struggled to make the Apple TV, once known as the iTV prior to its launch, relevant in an age of Tivo, BitTorrent, Netflix, and XBox Live saturation of the passive entertainment, family-room market.
The previous update, “Take Two”, was meant to herald a new era for Apple’s only foray into the set-top box fray. No previous attempt by any technology company has managed the ubiquity of DVD players, VHS, or even the relatively small console gaming platforms.
This update, however, has responded to the market’s response to their first and second attempts at relevance. Among the user friendly improvements are the following items:
1. The ability to download podcasts from your Apple TV and have them saved to the Mac or PC to which it is synced.
2. Dynamic “genres” list for movies. Any genre you add your personally backed-up movies to will be listed in Apple TV’s movies/genres menu.
3. Better shading of menu items to produce a more “live action” appearance while waiting for the click of the IR remote control signal to register.
4. A reflection has been added to certain interface elements.
5. An “Add to Queue” option has been added to the previous “Play” and “Download” option in the “Podcasts” section.
6. Further enhancing the previous feature, a sort of “Playlist” feature has been incorporated so that you don’t have to return to a menu every time a one or two minute clip ends so that you can choose another one.
7. “Smart” playlists, enabling the pre-scheduling of up to 6 hours or non-stop, successive podcasts, music videos, movies, and television shows, have been added to the iTunes software. These playlists, which can be synced to and played on your Apple TV in an attempt to mimic the standard environment in which consumers of entertainment appreciate their widescreen, surround sound, darkened room home-theater setup from their couch, seem to be an attempt by Apple to “catch up” with the immature, yet persistent, crowd of home theater early arrivals who have offered these features for years.
8. Support has been added for a new remote that looks remarkably similar to the first gen iPod Nano. A small screen for quick menu selection, a circular “click wheel” (a technology pioneered by apple but seemingly abandoned with its recent “touch” products), and the diminutive form factor with a 6 button interface that has served hand held tech from Apple for so long.
9. A revamp of the “search” keyboard for online services. Instead of a square, highly unusable letter grid, Apple has adopted a common typing interface across all of its Apple TV interfaces. Coupled with the new scroll-wheel remote, entering text into search fields has remarkably improved usability, once a hallmark of Apple products, which cannot be matched by any other.
10. Removal of the distinction between the computer to which an Apple TV is synced and the content shared on the network. All content is available by selecting its source, similar to the way it was made available in the previous version of the Apple TV software.
These are the ten most interesting updates. The revision also includes a number of bug fixes from improving the response of the unit to clicks of the remote to close to real-time syncing between the Apple TV and its coupled iTunes installation. In a previous version these features were sorely missing or incalculably buggy.
In the first part of the new millennium, Apple Inc revolutionized the personal, portable entertainment industry. Today Apple Inc is a leader in portable entertainment technology with market leading positions in wireless communications, the iPhone, pocketable media libraries, iPod (Touch)™, and the yet unannounced iWiiPod portable theater system and gaming device.