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The 5.2.1 update for Apple TV has just been released. The new version includes some security fixes as well as a redesign of Hulu Plus. Those subscribing to Hulu Plus will be pleasantly surprised, however, the new functionality introduces a few minor glitches.
The security fixes address the same issues as the iOS 6.1.3 update, except for the passcode lock. This is to be expected as Apple TV is an iOS device. It has the same processor as an iPhone or iPad (A4 or A5, depending on model). It runs the core iOS operating system, with a different graphical user interface.
Hulu Plus has been completely redesigned. The most noticeable features are the new menus. The new menus resemble Apple’s own services — Movies and TV Shows. There is a menu bar at the top, which can be accessed from any of the top-level menus. This is convenient. You no longer have to hit the menu button to go back and wait as you see the “Accessing Hulu Plus” message on the screen. Simply press the up button on the remote from any top-level screen until you see the menu bar. The menu bar is only accessible from the top-level menu screens. Once you drill down into a show’s series menu, you will need to connect to Hulu’s backend whenever you go back and forth in the menu hierarchy. It would be nice if the menu bar could be accessed from any screen. Nonetheless, this is a step forward and makes Hulu Plus much easier to use.
When you start Hulu Plus, you are presented with the main screen. This shows a slick cover-flow style carousel of recommendations that scroll horizontally across the screen. Underneath the carousel, your favorite shows are displayed, with the most recently watched listed first. Popular shows are displayed below your favorites. As you scroll down, you see videos grouped by trends, recommendations, and other classifications.
The new Hulu Plus is optimized for easy access. For the most part, the first screen will take you where you want to go. If you navigate to a TV show on any of the top menu pages and press play, it will play the latest episode or the next episode, depending on your viewing behavior. If you press the select button, you will go to the series page for that show. (continue…)