Apple TV 5.2.1: Worth Upgrading?

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Hulu Plus ad progress indicator for Apple TV

The Hulu Plus redesign also features a new advertisement progress indicator. I think this was done to please advertisers more than customers. Instead of the count-down bar at the top of the screen, an inconspicuous circle appears when ads are run. The circular progress indicator fills in with white as the ad progresses. The minimal design ensures that you won’t be too distracted and focus on the ad. I have no problems with this. It looks cool and Hulu has to make some money. There are some glitches. Sometimes the circle will disappear or flicker.

Given the comprehensive overhaul of the user interface, the minor flaws are acceptable. The benefits outweigh the small defects. Hulu has really done a great job. Not only have they made it easier to use, but they have one-upped Netflix, which seems stale in comparison. Netflix still uses the old Front Row design in their user interface. I don’t really see Netflix and Hulu as competitors. Their content is complimentary. As a cord-cutter, I need both services. It is amazing to see Hulu, the newcomer, release a redesign that makes Netflix look old-fashioned. Hulu has more complicated requirements than Netflix — they must dynamically insert advertisements into the stream. Well done Hulu!

You do not have to upgrade your Apple TV. It may actually be inconvenient to upgrade. Sometimes I postpone upgrades, as they can be quite large and time-consuming, when I really just want to watch TV. This upgrade downloads in the background (which made for a frustrating viewing experience) and installs very quickly.

If you have Hulu Plus, I recommend upgrading immediately. Even if you don’t have this service, I recommend upgrading. Apple will often fix un-publicized bugs. I can’t blame them. Every minor flaw in Apple products is breaking news these days. As for the security fixes, given the use cases for Apple TV, they are not compelling. Apple TV isn’t as vulnerable as an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Since Apple TV runs the same core operating system, the security fixes in iOS 6.1.3 are applied to Apple TV as well. You should probably upgrade, but if you don’t use Hulu Plus, don’t feel compelled to do this right away. You can do it when you’re not watching your Apple TV.

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