2014: The year of the iPhone-controlled everything

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There are some technologies that happened way earlier than they had any right to. Frankly, putting a man on the moon in the days when the Apollo Guidance Computer really did have less power than a pocket calculator was an insane achievement.

And then there are those technologies that have taken way, way longer than they should have done – with home automation heading the list. The main reason it was such a slow-burn was the lack of a standard interface (X.10 never really established itself in the home).

2014, however, looks set to be the year in which all that changes, with the iPhone the new standard interface. Steve Jobs once said that the Mac was the hub at the center of our digital lives; this year, it looks like the iPhone is taking over the crown …

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Yahoo Screen app and PBS arrive on Apple TV, free SNL, Daily Show, Colbert, live news & public TV now on the big screen

Back in September Yahoo launched a new Yahoo Screen iOS app, a TV remote-like experience for browsing content from Yahoo and sending content to your TV via AirPlay. Today the company announced that it is launching the Yahoo Screen experience directly on the Apple TV.

Yahoo Screen on Apple TV helps you quickly find all the great video Yahoo has to offer —Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, live news and events, music and original Yahoo programs — so you can enjoy on your big screen.

The app appears to be a similar experience as the iOS app, allowing users to browse through content hosted on Yahoo across categories such as news, sports, food and entertainment and instantly stream content to their TV. Yahoo! has made new deals with Viacom that will bring content from Comedy Central and elsewhere, and it will also live stream original Yahoo programs, news, and live events. A few of the shows already available on Yahoo Screen include Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. You’ll also find content from MLB, UFC, The Onion, ABC News, Martha Stewart, and more.

The apps are being pushed out over the air to the Apple TV in the U.S. now, and we’ve also discovered that a new PBS channel has arrived today (pictured above). The app doesn’t require users to have a TV subscription to access content, but it does require users to sign in using Google+, Facebook, or the app’s registration in order to access PBS broadcasts for their location. The app doesn’t have live content, but it does have many of the network’s new shows shortly after they’ve aired.

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Apple TV will get more Chromecast-y in an iOS 7 update next week

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Photo: cnet.com

We mentioned last week that an Apple TV software update would allow owners to stream content from a friend’s Apple TV box elsewhere, and AllThingsD now has a little more info on how this will work.

The new software will allow people who have purchased content from Apple’s iTunes store to play that stuff on other people’s TVs, via its Airplay system.

The key part is that they will be able to tell an Apple TV box they don’t own to stream the media they do own, directly from the cloud. That’s a change from the current system, which requires users to  download stuff to their iPhones and iPads and fling it to the TV from there. It also echoes the way Google’s new Chromecast device works …  Read more

New Apple TV software likely coming next week, but don’t expect fresh hardware (yet)

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Apple won’t announce a new piece of Apple TV hardware next week (as had been previously rumored), but AllThingsD says that Apple will debut some new software for the existing device. Of course, an Apple TV software update is already expected, but ATD says that there could be some neat new AirPlay-related functionality:

Sources say that one new feature in the works will let people who’ve bought content from Apple play that stuff on other users’ Apple TVs, via Apple’s Airplay system. So if you’ve bought a TV show or movie from Apple’s iTunes store, you could watch it at a friend’s house, by calling it up on your iPhone, and telling your friend’s Apple TV to start streaming it.

The new Apple TV software update will also unlock iTunes Radio, the ability to setup an Apple TV over Bluetooth 4.0, and OS X Mavericks multi-display support.

We’ve heard that Apple has some Apple TV related announcements up its sleeves for the coming months, but major hardware changes aren’t expected until at least next year. Sources say that Apple has been working on ways to control the Apple TV (whether that be a full on display – or just a box) via motion…

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Apple acquires Matcha.tv iOS streaming media aggregation and discovery tool

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Popular online media aggregation and discovery app for iOS, Matcha, suddenly disappeared from the App Store in late May without any explanation by the company or Apple. Tonight it became clear exactly what happened.

According to Venture Beat, Apple has acquired Matcha.tv for an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million. Although, the final total could be higher once the deal is completed. Unsurprisingly, Matcha.tv CEO Guy Piekarz declined to comment on the potential acquisition and Apple served Venture Beat their typical canned response that “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Matcha.tv launched in January of 2012 and steadily grew its fan base by providing an easy way to browse streaming movie and TV shows across all the major sources including Netflix, iTunes, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others. During its time on the App Store it amassed a favorable 4.5 star rating from iTunes reviewers and was also received well by tech pundits. At first glance this service would seem as a nice way for Apple to fortify a full-fledged Apple TV service or expand their current offering with deeper airplay capabilities and controller integration. Tim Cook has repeatedly said that TV remains an area of “great interest” so it makes sense that they are arming themselves with the resources necessary to take their “hobby” to the next level.

Apple has already successfully completed several strategic acquisitions this year including Passif, a developer of low-power chipsets, and Hopstop, a mapping service.