As part of the plethora of today’s iOS upgrades, Apple also released a upgrade for Apple TV. The former version 4.3 has now been upgraded to version 4.4 build 3410. The new release is complementary to the newly released iOS 5 for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Some of the new features and changes include:
|Apple TV’s Version 4.4 Welcome Screen|
Airplay mirroring. You can now take what’s appearing on your iPad 2 or iPhone 4S screen and also have it display simultaneously on your HDTV. Update: HBO Go does not work with Airplay mirroring. It displays a message that states HBO Go does not support HDMI video out but it will in the future. Any other apps we tried worked without a hitch (however, streaming video was a little choppy). To activate it, double click the Home button. Now, swipe the running apps off to the right and you will see a control to activate mirroring.
Photo Stream: Your photos that live in Apple’s iCloud can be displayed on Apple TV. First, I need to get some photos loaded up in iCloud.
Closed Captions: Apple has fixed the closed caption problem for the new fall TV shows purchased in iTunes (as previously reported here). The Netflix app has also gained the ability to display closed captions. However, the implementation is very un-Apple like. The closed captioned titles are not flagged in Netflix in any way, shape or form (sounds like we need another update or the Netflix metadata needs to be fixed). To activate captions for Netflix: Start watching a movie. Press the up arrow button on the Apple remote. If subtitles are available, “Hold down Select for further options” will be displayed in the channel banner. Holding “select” (the button in the middle of the navigation arrows) will show a captioning menu. It’s like looking for Easter Eggs except it’s not fun. (We also found you can also just hold down “select” while viewing without bringing up the channel banner first).
|iTunes TV Shows Properly Display Captions Now (New Girl)|
|Netflix adds a message to the banner to hint there may be captions (click to enlarge)|
|Netflix screen to enable captions|
NHL and WSJ Live: One of the criticisms for video streaming services is the lack of news and sports. Apple is addressing this with the addition of the NHL app which joins the current MLB and the on-strike NBA apps (with a similar UI). On the news side, this Apple TV update adds Wall Street Journal Live. While the content is free, it is ad-supported.
Movie Trailers: The movie trailers app gets a new interface similar to the iTunes store. There’s also a lot more trailers to watch. So many, they’re broken up by genre.
|The New Movie Trailer Interface|
New Screen Resolutions: There are new menu options available to select other resolutions and refresh rates. You can chose either 50 or 60 Hz for 720P. You can also chose 480P or VGA (640×480) resolutions. It’s possible this was in the earlier version, but I hadn’t noticed it until this upgrade.
Slide-Shows: Several new slide-show themes are included: Photo Wall, Flip-up, Shifting Tiles.
Update (10-18-2011): Apple released a minor revision today, 4.4.1 which addresses a problem that prevented some units from upgrading over the Internet. Interestingly enough, my Apple TV would not stream any video the other night. Wonder if there’s a fix in there for that too?