On Monday April 27, 2015 Apple added NBC Sports Live Extra to the lineup of channels on the Apple TV. Live sport events are streamed on this channel. Some programming is available without a subscription, but the live events will require a companion subscription on a cable network.
I am not much of a sports fan, so this addition is of little value to me, but I am glad to see that Apple continues to enhance the Apple TV product.
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Apple released version 7.2 of the Apple TV software along with iOS 8.3 on April 8. This new software only applies to the third generation Apple TV hardware (see “Identifying Apple TV models” below). Not a lot changed with the update as it mostly addresses performance and stability improvements.
I checked my Apple TV just as I was writing this article and it had not been updated yet even though I have it set to Auto Update. I kicked off the update manually (see “How to update software on your Apple TV” below) and it took nearly 70 minutes to download, apply the new firmware and reboot the Apple TV, far longer than I had expected. I’m not sure if that was due to the speed of my local network or to Apple servers trying to keep up with all of the iOS,
OS X and Apple TV updates.
Another recent addition was the new ‘HBO Now’ App which allows users to subscribe to HBO programming directly via the internet, no longer requiring a cable subscription. You can now subscribe to HBO for $15/month through iTunes. New subscribers will get ‘HBO Now’ a one month free trial period for the service. Subscribing to ‘HBO Now’ will also allow users to watch programming on iOS devices and Macs. There is no contractual commitment, so the service can be stopped and then restarted at any time. HBO Now gives access to all of the original HBO programming, as well as its other shows. As of now this does not include a live feed to programs.
Apple followed up the on their Tuesday Apple TV announcement with another yesterday. As of Wednesday March 25 the CNN Go channel is available on all Apple TVs. It is always good to have more channels, but in this case you must still have a cable or satellite TV subscription.
I checked my Apple TV this morning and the CNN Go channel had been added to the lineup. I am glad to see Apple is adding channels, but there are many others I would rather see.
See Apple TV for getting started and links to other Apple TV related articles
This morning Apple added three new channels to the Apple TV – TED Talks, Young Hollywood, and Tastemade. I just finished checking my Apple TV and all three new channels were present. Of the three, I think that I will find the TED Talks channel will be the most useful to me. I looked over some of the recent presentations and see several I want to view. In summary the new channels provide:
- TED Talks – presentations on a variety of topics
- Young Hollywood – celebrity-focused programs
- Tastemade – food adventure, cooking programs and a few city guides
This seems another step in preparation for the rumored launch of a video streaming service and likely a newer model of Apple TV sometime this summer. On March 16 the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple would announce a TV subscription service with at least 25 channels and with competitive pricing. Of course, at this point all is just speculation.
See Apple TV for getting started and other Apple TV related posts
I have been wanting an Apple TV for a year or so, and the recent reduction in price to just $69 got the better of me over the weekend.
Setting up the Apple TV was incredibly easy:
- Take it out of the box
- Plug in the power cable
- Connect to the TV with an HDMI cable
- Turn on the TV and select the HDMI port connected to the Apple TV as the video source
- Configure the Apple TV to use my WiFi home network
It was up and running and I had a number of channels (58) to choose from. Many of those stations require that you already have a cable subscription such as the three Disney, the HBO, and the Showtime channels. The sport channels MLB.tv, NBA League Pass and NHL GameCenter also require a subscription before they can be used, as do Hulu Plus and Netflix.
So what stations do I find useful? Not all that many. There are several sports channels, but I do not follow sports. There are a few news channels, that might be useful, but again, they are also on cable. I do think I might find these channels interesting, but most of them are also currently on my cable plan:
- Apple Events
Probably the most useful thing about the Apple TV is the ability to access media on your Mac. Once iTunes is shared with the Apple TV, all of the music and videos in the iTunes library can be viewed on the Apple TV. The Apple TV can also access photos that have been shared to iCloud and any iMovies on your computer. Content can (sometimes) be streamed from your iPad to your Apple TV for display on the big screen. I’ll go into all of those in more detail in a future article.
So, with about 10 hours of use so far do I think the Apple TV is worth it?
- Price is now only $69
- I can access iTunes library content
- I can view photos shared in iCloud
- I can send content on the iPad to the Apple TV using AirPlay
- Channel selection not very extensive
- iTunes has to be running on Mac to access the library
- Photos have to be selected and shared to iCloud
I say ‘YES’ I do think that it was worth the investment. As I learn more I will share the info in future articles.