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Hands-on with the Apple TV 6.0 update

Christopher Breen | Sept. 23, 2013
Apple has updated the Apple TV software to version 6, which supports iTunes Radio, iCloud to AirPlay streaming, and iPod syncing.

Again, as with iOS 7's Music app, you can purchase tracks within most of the iTunes Radio screens. Speaking of which...

Purchasing music
In the past you've been able to purchase videos directly from your Apple TV. Now you can do the same with music. Just select the Music entry, navigate to an album or track you wish to purchase, highlight its price, and press the remote's Select button to purchase it. You'll be asked to confirm that you really want to purchase the song. Confirm that you do and the track will be made available to the devices associated with your Apple ID.

AirPlay From iCloud
This feature is nearly transparent. Here's the idea.

You're visiting a friend and you have an iOS device with you. You go to the Videos app on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and you look for a movie that you've purchased from the iTunes Store. Tap on it and select your pal's Apple TV to play it on.

Within the Apple TV's AirPlay settings is a new Play From iTunes In The Cloud setting that's set to Auto by default. When you configure your iOS device to stream its content to the Apple TV via AirPlay and then tap a movie on iCloud to play, Apple confirms with the iOS device that it's authorized to play that content. Once authorized the Apple TV will play it, but not streamed from the iOS device but rather streamed from Apple's servers. You can then switch to another app on your iOS device or even put it to sleep. But you can't quit the host application—Music or Videos. If you do, playback on the Apple TV will stop.

Podcasts
The Apple TV will now sync podcasts between itself and iOS devices. Any podcasts you've subscribed to on other devices will now appear on your Apple TV when you select Podcasts from the Apple TV's main menu. Additionally, play points are remembered. So if you've listened to only half of a podcast episode in the car, you can pick up where you left off in the living room.

Improved Photo Stream viewing
Finally, the latest Apple TV provides an update to Photo Stream that enhances shared streams. You can now comment and "like" images within a shared stream—even if it's your own stream—directly on the Apple TV. You can't, however, delete or add images in a shared stream on the Apple TV.

Unlike some earlier updates, this one is not installed automatically. To obtain it, choose Settings > General > Software Update. Over a 4-mbps DSL connection the update took approximately 15 minutes to download. The installation process took easily as long.

 

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