Take Control of Apple TV

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog, and there’s a couple of reasons for that. First, I’ve had my hands full with the baby. Second, while having my hands full with the baby, I wrote a book, Take Control of Apple TV, that’s available now.

I’ve been a big fan of the Apple TV for years, toying with it, tinkering with it, and slowly replacing every other set-top box in our home entertainment system with it. Its small footprint, ease of use, integration with the Apple ecosystem, and endless expandability (via AirPlay), made it our family’s ideal living room device. We use it for Netflix, iTunes content, to view baby pictures, as a home audio device — just about everything.

Now, for only $10, my years of Apple TV experience can be yours, in an easy-to-browse format. I start from the absolute basics and work you up to more complex hacks that unlock the hidden power of the Apple TV. I’m particularly proud of the “Apple TV at the Movies” chapter, which walks you through controlling video on your Apple TV, how to customized subtitles, and even how to rip DVDs and Blu-rays for viewing on your Apple TV. TidBITS members who got access to the early draft of the book said that chapter alone justified their membership fee.

So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Bradley Chambers, co-host of the Out of School podcast said, “It’s written in such a way that you don’t have to be an Apple nerd to understand what he is talking about. In other words, it’s highly approachable and very well written.”

Thanks to Bradley for that kind review, as well as my editors: Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Kelly Turner, and Jeff Carlson for making my text shine.

If you own an Apple TV, or are thinking about buying one, be sure to check it out.

Apple's Lightning Digital AV Adapter is an AirPlay Receiver

Panic:

There’s a lot more going on in this adapter than we expected: indeed, we think the Lightning Digital AV Adapter outputs video by using AirPlay (or similar MPEG streaming). Are we off base? Let us know!

Apple's critics have often accused Apple of using impractical technology for the sake of aesthetics. This does nothing to help Apple's case.

If Panic's observations are correct, then the question is why did Apple do this? If they went to the trouble of shrinking an AirPlay device into a tiny adapter, sacrificing quality to do so, why not just make it a wireless HDMI AirPlay receiver? A device like that would be a big seller.

Maybe Apple was afraid that it would cannibalize Apple TV sales. Which just strengthens the case that Apple needs to open up their platform, at least a little. I don't want a Roku free-for-all where third party apps can crash the box, but I would at least like to have a lot of the Roku content that Apple TV lacks. The lack of UFC on the Apple TV has tempted me to buy a Roku, but why should I have two devices hooked up to my TV when I just need one?

UPDATE: It looks like we may have an answer.

Via TidBITS.

Apple TV Update Failing for Some

Me, TidBITS:

Apple last week released Apple TV Software Update 5.1.1 for second- and third-generation Apple TVs, adding support for the new Up Next feature that debuted in iTunes 11, along with performance and stability improvements. However, there are a number of reports of problems updating over wired Ethernet connections. In some cases, the Apple TV may fail to boot after a failed upgrade.

I'm super happy to announce that I am now a contributor to TidBITS. TidBITS was founded in 1990 and is the oldest existing Internet publication. Thanks to Adam Engst for giving me a chance to write for it.

Note: I thought I had posted this days ago, but apparently not. Sorry folks, this has been a crazy, crazy week.

Is the Latest Apple TV Update a Clue to Apple's TV Plans?

Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs:

“I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Yesterday, Apple added an interesting feature to the Apple TV: The ability to stream audio to any AirPlay device.

That's a neat feature, but more importantly, I think it shows us where Apple is going with television.

The most problematic part of home theater isn't the screen or the media player, it's the audio.

If you want surround sound, your only choice is to buy a receiver, a giant box that every wire has to be routed through. Then you have to run wires across your living room, turning it into a spiderweb of audiophilia.

And then you have to deal with the receiver itself. Which inputs do the TV and receiver need to be on? Which remote do you use for each? Which remote do you use for volume? So you get a universal remote with a hundred buttons, which sort of works with everything. Then you have to train your family on how the system works, and they roll their eyes because they just want to watch a movie.

It's a huge pain in the ass that we put up with, and that makes it a prime market for Apple to disrupt.

Since that Steve Jobs quote hit the web, we've all been wondering why Apple would bother with a TV set, what it could do that the current Apple TV can't. Maybe now we have the answer.

Imagine an Apple TV that includes, or is sold alongside, AirPlay surround speakers. Knowing Apple, they would fit the left, right, center, and subwoofer channels into the display itself. But the rear channels could be AirPlay speakers with rechargeable batteries.

You could take this idea even further. Imagine watching a movie on the big screen, streaming the audio to your iPhone's Earpods, while your partner is sleeping down the hall. Now imagine you and a couple of friends doing the exact same thing, talking about the movie over iMessage. You get to have fun with your friends, and your partner gets to sleep. It's the perfect Apple narrative.

Who knows what the Apple TV set will look like, or if it'll ever be released. But I'm willing to bet audio will be a huge part of the equation. Apple definitely has a renewed interest in it lately.

The link to the book "Steve Jobs" in this post is an Amazon affiliate link that supports this blog.