Apple TV Version 5.0 First Look (Video) with a Surprise!

March 7, 2012

Apple appears to have included Ultraviolet-like functionality with the latest Apple TV upgrade.

Not only did Apple introduce a new Apple TV today, it also rolled out an upgrade to the current Apple TV 2s. Both the existing and new Apple TVs will share the same upgraded interface. Besides the new look and feel, there’s little in terms of functionality. The Netflix app allows you to sign up for the service directly from the Apple TV. You can use your iTunes account to pay your monthy Netflix bill.

The movies app has also been upgraded. As with TV shows, you can now stream content directly from Apple’s cloud. I did find an interesting surprise trying it out. I purchased the 2009 release of Star Trek on Blu-ray which came with a digital copy on an additional physical disc. A while ago, I loaded that digital copy on my iMac. In the earlier versions of the Apple TV software, I was able to watch it via iTunes home sharing, streaming from my iMac (and iTunes had to be running). Apple outlines the process here. However,  I can now stream the movie directly from Apple’s cloud. Star Trek shows up under my purchased titles and the iCloud icon appears with it. It’s just like iTunes match for music! I doubt it goes as far as iTunes music match, grabbing any movie it finds, including ripped DVDs. What Apple is doing here seems very similar to UltraViolet. Star Trek streamed in 480P and Dolby Digital. Sweet! Check it out in the video below. Update: From what I can tell, iTunes digital copies only stream in SD from iCloud.  While the Apple TV UI does report it’s 1080P from the Wish List, Search and Browsing screens, it’s actually a 480P SD encode.

Note, I also have an iTunes authorized copy of X-Men: First Class downloaded from a disc but it’s not showing up in “Purchased Movies”. However, it’s unlikely that it will show up since X-Men: First Class is not available for purchase or rental in the iTunes store. Digging a little deeper, digital copies of movies that are authorized in iTunes show up in your iTunes purchase history. Time to go load up the Blu-rays I have that came with digital copies.

Update: Just tried it with Kick-Ass and it also worked! Time for some super-hero action!! While the physical disc was needed to enter the authorization code, it showed up in iTunes movie “purchases” on Apple TV before the file was copied off the disc.

Update: And it’s also showing up on the iPhone under the iTunes app (see pic below):

Update (3/8/2012): All Things D has reported that due to a licensing conflict, Fox and Universal movies are not available in the iTunes store. HBO has exclusive rights for the time being. This is probably the reason why X-Men First Class is showing up in my purchases. Apparently, this will ultimately be worked out and I should see X-Men in the future. And all this time I thought Magneto was to blame.

So, with this software upgrade, it seems the only real difference between the new and existing Apple TV is the ability to play 1080P content thanks to an upgraded A5 CPU. Perhaps functionality down the road with take additional advantage of the A5. Given that other devices I own can do 1080P, it doesn’t make the new Apple TV a compelling upgrade for me.

To sum up everything, I’ve put together a how-to guide to help you get the most out of the new iTunes movie and Digital Copy functionality.


Apple TV version 5's new interface (Build 4099)

Apple TV version 5's new interface (Build 4099)


iTunes Movie Purchases from digital copies

iTunes Movie Purchases from digital copies

Tags: Apple, Apple TV, Digital Copy, iCloud, Netflix, Ultraviolet

21 Responses to Apple TV Version 5.0 First Look (Video) with a Surprise!

  1. Ben Drawbaugh on March 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    What was the quality of the digital copies when streamed from Apple? 480, 720 or 1080p?

    • Gabe Gagliano on March 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm


      It appears both Kick Ass and Star Trek are streaming at 720P. Audio is Dolby Digital. However, I have an Apple TV 2 so its limited to 720P. Based on what Apple said yesterday, the new Apple TV (can we call it the Apple TV 3?) should stream at 1080P from the iTunes cloud. I guess we’ll find out in a week!

      • Jonathan Munguia on April 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

        How can you tell that its streaming at 720 and not 480??

        • Gabe Gagliano on April 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm

          In the UI, you can’t tell when you select “Purchased” in the Movies app (must be a bug). Instead you need to search for the movie instead. When you look at the details of a title, arrow over once to the right. The “Widescreen” label will change to 1080P or HD if it’s 720P or if you you using the second gen Apple TV.

          Of course, you can judge by just looking but sometimes it’s not easy. Even if the movie is available in HD you need the bandwidth to support it.

          • Jonathan Munguia on April 9, 2012 at 11:56 pm

            Ive tried it with “The Fighter” and “Rango” but it doesn’t seem to work. It’s showing you this on the apple tv? I have the second gen apple tv and it doesn’t do it for me.

        • Gabe Gagliano on April 10, 2012 at 9:20 am


          Yes, neither movie shows up in iTunes search which means that it’s not available for purchase or rental right now.

          • Jonathan Munguia on April 22, 2012 at 12:57 am

            I tried the digital copy of puss in boots that I got my daughter and I can tell that it’s not streaming in HD even though it says HD when I toggle to the right once I’ve gotten to it through search. Oh well I’d rather have the iTunes HD copy than an SD one. Thank you though this blog was pretty darn helpful.

  2. John on March 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Sorry if this is a stupid question but will Any DVD work with this?
    I mean if I bought a copy of Blazing Saddles on DVD and iTunes has Blazing Saddles will it show up as a purchased iTunes Movie?
    Will it work with older DVD’s or just new ones???

    • Gabe Gagliano on March 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      It has to be a Blu-ray or DVD that came with a ‘iTunes Digital Copy’. Here’s what a Blu-ray with a Digital Copy looks like:!/TechOfTheHub/status/177950593569136640/photo/1
      I tried using a DVD ripped with Handbrake, made sure the metadata was defined but no dice. Follow the “Apple outlines the process” link above for more info on Digital Copy. I still need to go through my library to see if I have anymore DVDs or Blu-rays that have a “Digital Copy”

  3. Premek on March 9, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Unfortunately, not all digital copies seem to be offered at this point.

    I have digital copies in my iTunes (and they do show in the purchase history):
    Inglorious Basterds

    None of them seems to be available for re-download, unfortunately :( .

    • Gabe Gagliano on March 9, 2012 at 7:45 am

      Both Wanted and Inglorious Bastards are from Universal Pictures which hasn’t given Apple the rights to stream those movies yet. HBO has exclusive streaming rights to Inception. However, none of this is permanent. According to the All Things D article, this going to get worked out over time and they will be available from the iTunes cloud in the future.

  4. Mark chamberlain on March 9, 2012 at 7:35 am

    When will this be available in the uk? I’ve updated all my stuff and the apple tv2 is showing the new layout etc. but no dice on the purchased films yet

  5. Mike S on March 9, 2012 at 8:20 am

    What about the physical copy that downloads? Does it remain in SD, only making a HD stream available?

    • Gabe Gagliano on March 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      By the way, if you delete the copy of the movie on your Mac and download it again, you can get access to iTunes extras. Haven’t seen an instance where I’ve gotten a better quality movie though.

  6. Gabe Gagliano on March 9, 2012 at 9:01 am

    This does not change the quality of the digital file that gets loaded into iTunes on your computer. Note, I discovered that not all Digital Copies are streaming in HD from Apple’s cloud. I just updated the story above with some details.

    • Brett on March 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      You should update the Date on the All Things D article. I was confused when it said 2011.

  7. Volker Dammann on March 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I believe you that all that these new and wonderful features work in the USA. However, in Canada and possibly other countries they do not. I am running the very latest software + iCloud on current hardware and cannot even see my purchased movies in iTunes for Mac, iOS (iPhone 4S, iPad, Apple TV2).
    This is not the first time that new features only work in the US, and Apple does not tell when they’ll be made available elsewhere.
    As I am writing this, I am also exchanging emails with iTunes Support, and they seem to have no clue about it, i.e. where this new stuff works, and where not…

    • Mike on March 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Same deal for me :( I live in Canada too. I have dozens of DIgital Copies I received with blu-rays and show up as purchases on my iTunes account, but no “Purchases” menu option appears on my newly upgraded ATV Gen 2. Please post any information you get from iTunes support so all of us Canadians don’t have to go through the same support frustrations.

      This looks like an awesome feature. When it works I’ll only be buying blu-rays with DIgital Copies. Hopefully we can use this to download 1080P copies to the new iPad 3 instead of watching the crappy copies the blu-rays shipped with which are barely suitable for anything larger than an iPhone.

      I’ll be praying for a full iTunes match for Movies and TV in the future. When the music version launched I imported my massive CD music library and now only buy my music from Apple. If they kill the video DRM and give me iTunes match for the rest of my collection (for a fee of course), they’ll have all of my future TV and movie purchases too. I’ll unplug my server at home and will stop worrying about backing up my massive amounts of media data. Life would be great :)

  8. Luke on March 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I noticed this yesterday, as far as movies from digital copies showing up under “Purchased”, however I have the Toy Story box set that came out a while ago that included iTunes Digital Copies and they didn’t show up.

    However Star Trek and the LOTR Extended Trilogy Did.

    I think every movie I have bought that was a “Digital Copy” appeared to go through iTunes for the movie copy, but only 4 movies showed up in my Purchased option.

    Just a side note.

  9. Rizo on March 14, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Hi Gabe,

    Just wanted to jump in and say congrats on the blog… I had stopped following closely… but I just stumbled on this post being referenced at Wired and MacRumors.

    Great post… great job.

  10. MIA on August 30, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks for any other magnificent post. Where else may anyone get that type of information in such an ideal means of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the search for such information.

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