Apple TV graduates from hobby/accessory to product line ahead of major changes

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Apple appears to be putting its ducks in a row ahead of major Apple TV changes. Alongside last night’s changes to the Apple Online Store to promote Valentine’s Day specials, Apple added an entire Apple TV section.

The Apple TV is now promoted as a full product line alongside Macs, iPads, iPods, and iPhones. Previously, the Apple TV did not have its own section, and it was simply tucked away as an accessory in the dwindling iPod department.

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Not only does the Apple TV now have its own section, but it now has promoted and dedicated accessory, AppleCare, refurbished, and community question/answer sections.

Of course, the timing of the Apple TV’s “graduation” is interesting. Last week, we reported that Apple is working on a new version of the Apple TV set-top-box that will integrate new content (such as apps).

If Apple were to launch such a product in the near-future, it would make sense for it to have a dedicated, unhidden spot on Apple’s online store. And, based on what we’re hearing, the new Apple TV will certainly deserve to be called more than a “hobby.”

And we have some more information on why…

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WWE Wrestling Network coming to Apple TV, company executive suggests

Earlier this year, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) held a press conference to announce that it will be bringing its wrestling content to television and mobile devices via a new WWE Network. At the event, WWE Chief Revenue and Marketing officer Michelle Wilson announced hardware partners and that the network will provide its content via a 24/7 stream that costs $9.99 per month.

As shown in the video below (5:30 in), Wilson said that the network would become available on a slew of devices, including iOS devices, Android devices, Rokus, Amazon Kindle devices, Xbox hardware, and PlayStations. Rounding out the list of supported devices, Wilson said, is “a connected device that I am not allowed to mention at this press conference…”

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Sources say new Apple TV box likely coming soon, App/Game Store possible

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We’ve learned that Apple is making progress on its development of a successor to the current Apple TV and that the device is well into testing. We are led to believe that the new device, which is said to be a set-top box rather than a full-fledged TV set, will likely be introduced in the first half of 2014. We understand that the product will include a revamped operating system that will be based on iOS. Of course, release timeframes with these type of products can quickly change due to the content partners that are involved in such products…

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Apple TV NBA League Pass app updated for new season

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Following significant updates to its app on iOS, the NBA has updated its app on the Apple TV for the 2013-2014 season. The new season begins tonight, starting with three games (and several games tomorrow night). The updated Apple TV application includes a new icon on the Apple TV Home screen, the ability to view NBA standings across the league, the ability to stream games if you have a League Pass subscription, view highlights, and access NBA downloads from iTunes. More photos of the updated app below. Thanks, David!

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Apple boosts Apple TV content offerings with Major League Soccer, Disney Junior

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This morning, Apple has sent an over-the-air update to the Apple TV to add two new apps of content: Major League Soccer (MLS) and Disney Junior. The MLS app allows Apple TV users to watch soccer games live, and Disney Junior includes several shows oriented toward young children.

The new soccer app will surely be a big bonus for sports fans, while Disney Junior will continue to attract kids to the Apple’s living room appliance.
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Last week, Apple added iTunes Radio and many new features to the device. A few weeks ago, the company added a couple of Disney Channel apps, The Weather Channel, Vevo, and a Smithsonian app. Thanks DJ

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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

Report: Apple negotiating w/ media companies for pay TV service, working on full-fledged TV set

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A new report from Quartz today offers some details on Apple’s content negotiations for a much rumored revamped Apple TV. Most of the report echoes what we’ve heard several times in the past– Apple is apparently talking with HBO, Disney, MTV and others about a new TV service. According to Quartz, it could include a pay TV service that would see Apple “essentially becoming a cable company itself,” as well as the release of a “full-fledged television set”:

One alternative being considered is that Apple could essentially become a cable company itself. Under that scenario, sources say, Apple would launch what is formally known as a virtual multichannel video programming distributor. Apple is still interested in striking deals with cable companies that would allow people to plug their cable lines into the back of the TV set, bypassing a cable box, sources say. But at least two years of negotiations haven’t progressed very far.

Sources say Apple has concluded that it doesn’t need all, even most, content providers on board before it can release a TV set that people would buy. It just needs enough good programming to distinguish the new product, which will try to simplify the experience of connecting internet video to the TV.

The report doesn’t offer up any details that we didn’t hear around this same time last year (and the year before that), but it appears Apple could be closer to reaching the deals it needs to launch the next-generation of Apple TV. Earlier today we reported that former Hulu SVP Pete Distad has now officially started his new role at Apple as Product Marketing VP and is thought to be leading Apple executives through negotiations with cable and media companies.  Read more

Staples advertises Apple TV for $49, is the office retail giant going to sell Apple products?

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Here’s an interesting find sent by a tipster. Staples, the biggest office retailer in the United States, has a page showing an Apple TV with a list price of $49.99. While that price is very low, we were not able to add it to our cart or check out because the following page said “out of stock” (screenshots below). Staples also recommended a $24.99 Apple Lightning charge and sync cable when you visit the page. In fact, there is a bunch of Apple’s products sitting on “Mockup Pages” section.

What’s going on here?

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Aspyr Media talks porting games to OS X, Mac App Store & the future of Mac gaming (+ Borderlands 2 giveaway!)

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The introduction of the Mac App Store, at least for the Mac’s biggest game publisher Aspyr Media, hasn’t been entirely smooth. Aspyr recently outlined some issues with bringing multiplayer to Mac games due to Game Center and sandboxing restrictions of the Mac App Store, and developing separate versions of games for Steam and the Mac App Store continues to be a hurdle. An example is Borderlands 2. It took Aspyr just two months to ship the Mac version, but the Game Center multiplayer won’t arrive until sometime early this year. However, executives at the company promise Apple’s enthusiasm toward gaming on Mac is stronger than ever thanks to the Mac App Store. Aspyr also said it has much planned for 2013 in Apple’s store and remains platform agnostic, despite running its own competitive GameAgent store.

9to5Mac recently had the chance to speak with Aspyr Vice President of Publishing Elizabeth Howard, with input from CEO Michael Rogers and other execs, about the process of porting games to the Mac App Store, the company’s relationship with Apple and publishers, and the possibility of bringing iOS titles to OS X.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Aspyr is one of the biggest Mac game publishers bringing PC and console titles to OS X. It regularly leads many of the top paid and grossing charts on the Mac App Store thanks to high-profile releases such as Borderlands 2, RAGE, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and much more. Go below for the full interview and a chance to win Borderlands 2 for Mac. Read more

Holiday Apps categories begin appearing in Apple TV menus: Mistakes or preview of what’s to come?

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Apple recently updated iTunes and Apple TV content with holiday-themed sections, featuring “Holiday apps & games” and “Snow Sports” sections on the top of the App Store in iTunes and on iOS devices. Curiously, as spotted by Mac OS Ken, Apple is also displaying holiday-themed sections on Apple TV and advertising apps for not only snow sports but also “Apps for Shopping”, “Holiday Cooking Apps”, “Deep Games for Holiday Downtime”, and more.

Selecting the banners for most of these new sections leads to an empty page, without any apps listed (as pictured in the gallery below). Some, such as the Apps for Shopping section, doesn’t appear to be working at all. This is of course going to lead to speculation that Apple has plans to bring iOS apps to Apple TV in the near future, but it’s more likely Apple is mistakenly displaying iTunes/iPhone content on Apple TV (the iTunes store already displays some of the same holiday-themed sections).

It wouldn’t be the first time content mistakenly made its way to an Apple device. Earlier this month, Apple’s launch of iTunes in Russia was met with a bit of controversy when the iTunes app displayed advertisements for escort services and .xxx domains. Apple quickly addressed the Russian iTunes bug, but you can currently still find the holiday app sections on Apple TV by navigating to “Movies> Genres> Classics> Holiday Music, Movies, and More.”

Last week, we told you that Apple’s latest Apple TV beta included a new Bluetooth pairing menu. The feature currently allows for connecting wireless keyboards to second- and third-gen Apple TVs, indicating Apple has plans to introduce the feature in an upcoming update. A full gallery of the Apple TV holiday app sections below:

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‘Tis the season for Apple analyst Gene Munster to call for an Apple HDTV next year

In recent months, several reports from Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and most recently Jefferies seem to indicate Apple is in talks with cable companies for a new Apple TV-related service. It depends on whom you ask as to whether that service would center on a next-generation Apple TV set-top box or mark Apple’s introduction of the much-rumored Apple HDTV. There are still a couple analysts betting on an Apple TV set in the near future. Peter Misek of Jefferies is one. Misek estimated sales of 4.9 million units in CY13, and Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster is once again adding to the rumors today…

Munster, who has many times in the past predicted a full-fledged Apple HDTV, reported in a note to clients today that Apple will launch a TV set in time for the 2013 holiday season (via Business Insider). Not to be confused with a possible refreshed TV set-top box, Munster believes Apple will release an HDTV somewhere between 42-inches and 55-inches and priced between $1,500 and $2,000.

Perhaps more interesting than the Apple TV rumor is Munster’s claims that Apple is set to launch a new radio service in March of 2013—possibly alongside a Retina iPad mini. As for the rest of Munster’s 2013 roadmap for Apple: in June 2013, he is predicting previews of iOS 7, OS X, and new Retina MacBook Airs.

Munster’s other not-so surprising predictions from the note:

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Amazon Instant Video app for iPad hits the App Store with offline viewing and Prime streaming

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Just 24 hours after Hulu started popping up on Apple TV, we now see Amazon’s Instant Video Store in the App Store for iPad. It looks like a full app capable of not only streaming Prime content for free (with the$79 a yearl Amazon Prime membership, but the first month is free) as well as being able to download content for offline viewing. Also, Season Pass is available for TV shows, and episodes are available the morning after the show airs on TV. The app will also resume where you left off watching from Kindle Fire, PS3, PC, Mac, or hundreds of models of connected TVs and Blu-ray players with Amazon Whispersync.

Interestingly, no iPhone version yet.

I can confirm that Airplay only works for audio in streaming video so you can’t stream to an AppleTV, yet. Also, I am able to stream my purchased movies but offline downloading doesn’t appear to be working at the moment (update: 8 hours later, 1 movie has finished downloading).

Amazon’s Cloud Drive got updated just yesterday as well, but with the proximity to the Hulu announcement, we’re thinking this might be Apple’s move more than Amazon finally building the app. On the other hand, perhaps the $199 Google Nexus 7 is signaling a big shift – that Amazon doesn’t need to build its own hardware and it can just produce software for the variety of tablets out there.

Full App Description below: Read more