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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 24, 2013

Apple Rolls Out Apple TV Revamp with Cloud Streaming

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Looking to stay abreast of the latest competitive waters, Apple (News - Alert) has, as anticipated, released a refreshed version of its Apple TV software (after a premature launch and subsequent deletion last week from the iTunes store). Apple TV 6.0 offers the Pandora (News - Alert)-rivaling iTunes Radio and Music Store, AirPlay functionality from iCloud, conference room mode, and a Photo Stream replacement using iCloud photos and videos.

In addition, the Apple TV can now install software updates automatically.

The biggest notable update is the AirPlay from iCloud capability, which takes on the Google Chromecast dongle directly by allowing users to keep content in the cloud and simply pull it down to the TV, no download required. In the past, content would have to be streamed first to an iPhone (News - Alert), iPad or iPod touch, and then synced from there via AirPlay to the Apple TV set-top. The result is a reduction in local bandwidth usage. Take note however: it only works with iOS 7 devices.

The AirPlay refresh is a clear chess move against Google Chromecast. That gadget is a $35 device that is essentially nothing more than an Internet-connected flash drive that plugs directly into an HDTV to stream content from the cloud or other devices. Content-wise, it offers YouTube (News - Alert) and Netflix as the predominant options. And, viewers can use a smartphone, tablet or computer as a remote control.

Unlike Apple TV, Google Chromecast streams content running on iOS, Android (News - Alert), Windows and Google's own Chrome OS. So anyone can pull up a YouTube video from pretty much any device, and fling it to the TV.

As content access and usability continue to be differentiators for the ovvver-the-top (OTT) set, Apple isn’t the only one refreshing its Apple TV approach, either. Recently, Amazon released an update for its Instant Video iOS app that boosts compatibility with Apple TV and iOS. The app, as one may suspect, allows users to watch video content purchased electronically from Amazon, as well as stream Prime Instant Video. In the past it worked with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but the update released this week adds the ability to stream content from the app via AirPlay. That means that users can port the content between devices, including sending it to Apple TV.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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