Apple TV 6.0: Worth Upgrading?

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Apple TV 6.0 adds Major League Soccer

Other Features

Apple TV has a new easy setup mode. If you have a brand new Apple TV or reset an existing one back to factory settings, this new feature is a real time saver. Simply move your iPhone within proximity of your Apple TV, and it will fill in Wi-Fi, Apple ID, language preferences and other settings. Apple instructs users to touch Apple TV with the iPhone, however, since the feature uses the Bluetooth Low Energy profile, the iPhone only needs to be within 6 inches. The feature works with any device running iOS 7, except the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

Shortly after the 6.0 upgrade, Apple added Major League Soccer to their growing selection of content channels. MLS has some free content, but in order to enjoy live streaming, one must subscribe to the service. Subscriptions start at $14.99 per month.

With MLS, NBA, MLB, and NHL, Apple TV now has just about every major sport covered. It just needs NFL, but that’s a difficult deal to negotiate. NFL is committed to television and does not offer any live broadcast of regular season games online. At best, you can pay for a subscription to watch pre-recorded games on the web or iPad. The iPad version does not offer AirPlay support. The NFL does offer live streaming of pre-season games.

No New Look

For those expecting Apple TV to look like iOS 7, the 6.0 update is disappointing. Apple TV retains its original look, with the addition of new icons. Settings is no longer locked into the top row of icons. Instead, it is on the second row and can be moved. It is displaced by iTunes Radio. This is a strange design decision, but it shows how seriously Apple takes iTunes Radio. I would expect the icon to be below the first row, much like Podcasts or Radio.

The fact that Apple TV has the same look implies that there will be a future release to bring the UI in line with iOS. It is possible that there will be a big leap forward for Apple TV. I still doubt that Apple will create an all-in-one TV set, dubbed iTV. Set-top boxes are easier to sell, as many people do not want to buy a new TV, especially when a new standard, 4K, is emerging. If Apple launches an iTV capable of 4K, it will be very expensive. Currently, 4K TVs cost about $4000. Apple would also once again be competing face-to-face with rival Samsung. Samsung dominates the flat screen TV market. However, we’re talking about Apple. They could make a $4000 TV set, and people would be camping out for weeks to buy one.

Overall, the Apple TV 6.0 update is quite stable. I have used it for a few days, without any problems. You no longer have to fear this notorious update. From my research, the update is no longer “bricking” Apple TVs. The first Apple TV update did not ruin everyone’s Apple TV. It worked for most people. Some people had to restore their device with iTunes. For the rest, Apple offered new devices. It’s a bad mistake, but they recovered gracefully with a working version within a few days.

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  1. Hi, with the new airplay from Cloud does this mean that streaming quality issues have been overcome because the native AAC will be being played rather than a downmix?

    1. For Music (music purchased on iTunes and played directly from Apple TV) it depends on your bandwidth. I’ve noticed on some nights, when my ISP is struggling, the music sounds a bit low-res. I think it thins the stream. Indeed, looking at the Apple’s tech specs, this seems to be the case. It can play audio as low as 16 kbps and as high as 320 kbps. Of course, that upper limit is not yet supported by the iTunes Store. The max is 256kbps. But yes, I do believe the sound quality is better than playing it over AirPlay, but that may also be a moot point. Apple TV now streams directly from the cloud, by default (you can turn this off). So if you start playing music over AirPlay, it should be pulling it over the cloud, unless the title wasn’t purchased from iTunes (such as an imported CD transferred over to your iPhone). This should eliminate the conversion. I don’t hear the weird “swishy” artifacts on the high end. I still think it sounds better playing it from my Mac, audio out, through the Amphony wireless transmitter. It’s 24-bit/96khz. If you have lossless music, it will sound better.

      I will post an update to my “Apple TV: Poor Audio Quality”. I have to admit, it’s a bit of an exaggeration. The audio isn’t poor. It isn’t great, but it seems to have improved. I think I was just annoyed when I was listening to music I just purchased, and noticed the swishy high-end artifacts. Music just shouldn’t sound like that at this point in time!

      iTunes Radio is another story. I think, overall, it offers great quality audio. It’s better than Pandora or any other Internet radio platform. I love it and use it all the time. That said, the bass is way hyped! It’s almost blowing out my speakers sometimes. Sound Check is enabled with iTunes Radio, and you can’t turn it off. It makes sense for a radio platform, as the music will be coming from so many different sources. I’m not sure why the bass is so hyped. It might be a good idea to do my iTunes Radio session from my Mac via the wireless transmitter.

      When I watch video on Netflix, Hulu Plus, or iTunes, the audio is better, in that there isn’t the hyped bass. I find the same to be true with Vimeo. This seems to support that the iTunes Radio sound is modified and a bit hyped. This isn’t unusual. Terrestrial radio stations have been doing this for decades.

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