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Apple TV

Apple TV
3rd generation Apple TV
Manufacturer Apple Inc.
Type Set-top box
Release date
  • 1st: January 9, 2007
  • 2nd: September 1, 2010
  • 3rd: March 7, 2012
  • 3rd Rev A: January 28, 2013
Introductory price
Operating system 1st: 3.0.2
Based on Mac OS X 10.4
Released February 10, 2010 (2010-02-10)
2nd: 6.2 (6698.99.19)
Based on iOS 7.1.2
Released June 30, 2014; 18 months ago (2014-06-30)
3rd and 3rd Rev A: 7.2
Based on iOS 8.3
Released April 8, 2015; 9 months ago (2015-04-08)
  • 1st and 2nd: 256 MB
  • 3rd and 3rd Rev A: 512 MB
  • 1st: 40/160 GB
  • 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd Rev A: 8 GB (Not user-accessible, caching only)
Online services
  • 1st:
  • Script error: No such module "convert". (h)
  • Script error: No such module "convert". (w)
  • Script error: No such module "convert". (d)
  • 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd Rev A:
  • Script error: No such module "convert". (h)
  • Script error: No such module "convert". (w)
  • Script error: No such module "convert". (d)
Weight 1st: Script error: No such module "convert".
2nd, 3rd, and 3rd Rev A: Script error: No such module "convert".
Website Apple TV

Apple TV (stylized as 20pxtv) is a digital media player and a microconsole developed and sold by Apple Inc. It is a small network appliance and entertainment device that can receive digital data from a number of sources and stream it to capable TV for playing on the TV screen.

The third generation of Apple TV was introduced on March 7, 2012, incorporating the higher resolution (1080p) video standard. Apple TV is an HDMI-compliant source device connected to an enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen television via a HDMI cable to the TV's HDMI port, and the TV is put into HDMI mode. The device has no integrated controls and can only be controlled externally, either by an Apple Remote control device (with which it is shipped) using its infrared capability or by the 'Remote' app (downloadable from App Store) on iOS devices, such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or Apple Watch, using its Wi-Fi capability. Its Wi-Fi capability is also used to receive digital content from the iTunes app using AirPlay or directly from iTunes Store, which is then streamed to the TV. It also plays digital content from the iTunes Store, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Now TV (UK only), YouTube and Vevo, along with the TV Everywhere portals of several cable and broadcast networks, and the video subscription portals of three of the four major North American sports leagues;, NBA League Pass and NHL GameCenter. It plays content from any Mac OS X or Windows computer running iTunes.


Original design

Apple TV was unveiled as a work-in-progress called "iTV" on September 12, 2006 using a modified Front Row interface using the Apple Remote.[1][2] Apple started taking pre-orders for Apple TV on January 9, 2007. The name "iTV" was originally going to be used to keep it in line with the rest of their "i"-based products (iMac, iPod, etc.), but was not used because television broadcaster ITV holds the rights to the name in the UK and threatened to take legal action against Apple.[3]

Apple TV started shipping on March 21, 2007 with a 40 GB hard disk.[4][5] Apple released a 160 GB model on May 31, 2007; and ceased selling the 40 GB version from September 14, 2009.[6]

On January 15, 2008, a major (and free) software upgrade was announced, that turned the Apple TV into a stand-alone device that no longer required a computer running iTunes on Mac OS X or Windows to stream or sync content to it, and making most of the Apple TV's hard disk redundant. The update allowed the device to rent and purchase content directly from iTunes Store, as well as download podcasts and stream photos from MobileMe (.Mac at the time) and Flickr.[7]

On July 10, 2008, Apple released the iTunes Remote app on the App Store,[8] and the Apple TV 2.1 software update that added recognition for the iPhone and iPod Touch as remote control devices intended as a software alternative to the Apple Remote.[9] Later updates to the Apple TV, iTunes and Remote software added support for the iPad, and introduced support for new features as they were added to iTunes.

Later versions

The second generation Apple TV was unveiled on September 1, 2010.[10][11][12] The device was now housed in a very small all-black case, about ¼ the size of the original. The new model did away with an internal hard drive and had an internal 8 GB flash storage, enough local storage for buffering purposes; all media was now streamed, instead of synced.[13] The new device could also stream rented content from iTunes and video from computers or iOS devices via AirPlay. All content is drawn from online or locally connected sources.

In July 2011, Apple discontinued the Front Row interface.

In the March 7, 2012 presentation that mainly dealt with the third generation iPad, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a third version of the Apple TV. The new Apple TV is externally identical to the second generation model and includes a single-core A5 processor. It also supports 1080p content from iTunes and Netflix.[14] On January 28, 2013, Apple released a third generation "Rev A" which included component changes.


Apple TV allows consumers to use an HDTV set to view photos, play music and watch video originating from limited Internet services or a local network. The first generation (white) had iTunes, Flickr, Mobileme/.Mac and YouTube. The second generation added Netflix. Both models supported downloading/streaming podcasts.

Supported Internet media services include:[15]

  • Users can access the iTunes Store directly through Apple TV to rent movies and TV shows and stream audio and video podcasts. While the first generation of the Apple TV could download content, the second generation lacks a hard drive, and thus can not store purchased content. Users who wish to purchase content on the Apple TV may do so, but cannot download directly to the Apple TV. Content must be streamed live or downloaded via iTunes onto a device with storage capability (personal computer, iPhone, iPad, etc.). Since 2008, podcasts have been served on the Apple TV as other kinds of video, as opposed to in RSS and similar feeds.[16][17] Until mid-March 2009, the Apple TV was the only way to purchase HD iTunes content.[18]
  • Apple TV can display photos from Flickr and iCloud in a slide show, with automatic cross-dissolve transitions, and optionally with the Ken Burns effect.[19]
  • Netflix streaming integration was added in the September 2010 revision.
  • Hulu Plus integration was added on August 2012.
  • YouTube and Vimeo videos can be viewed on the Apple TV via included apps.[20][21] A YouTube account is not required, but allows a user to set personalized options, such as favorites.[22]
    • As of May 2015, the YouTube app only works with Apple TV 3rd Generation or later and Apple TV software 7.2 or later due to an API change implemented by Google
  • Rotten Tomatoes review syndication and ratings offered per title available for rent.[23] Rotten Tomatoes account holders cannot login, and no personalised options are available.
  • NBA TV and allow access to league scores, statistics, and their accompanying subscription services.[24] Apple TV does not support user-defined RSS audio, video and text feeds.[25]
  • WatchESPN, HBO GO, Sky News, Crunchyroll and Qello were added on June 19, 2013.[26] WatchESPN and HBO GO require TV Everywhere provider authentication, with Crunchyroll and Qello allowing paid subscription via Apple's payment systems, and Sky News available without any authentication or cost to users in the UK, Ireland and United States.
  • Disney Channel, Disney XD (requires TV Everywhere), Vevo, Smithsonian Networks and The Weather Channel (forecasts, weather news and regional video forecasts) integration was added on August 27, 2013.[27]
  • Yahoo Screen and PBS were added on November 19, 2013.[28]
  • Bloomberg, Crackle, Watch ABC (requires subscription. However Some are now 100% free), and KORTV were added on December 11, 2013.[29]
  • The WWE Network was added around the time of its late February 2014 launch, along with Red Bull TV and TV4 for Swedish viewers.[30]
  • History, Lifetime and A&E were added in April 2014.
  • ABC News, AOL, PBS Kids, Willow TV were added in June 2014.
  • CNBC, FOX NOW, TV 2 Sumo for Norway and Esporte Interativo for Brazil were added in July 2014.[31]
  • NFL Now[32] and Showtime Anytime, NRK for Norway and SVT for Sweden were added in August 2014.[33]
  • CNN, Tastemade, TED and Young Hollywood were added in March 2015.
  • HBO Now was announced March 2015 and was added to the Apple TV in April 2015 as part of HBO's exclusive partnership with Apple.
  • NBC Sports was added in April 2015
  • USA Now and CBS Sports were added in May 2015
  • In May 2015, a lot of content for international viewers was added. This includes Viaplay for Scandinavia, Stan for Australia, The WWE Network for the UK, and Bandai for Japan.

Unconfirmed reports about porting IOS apps to it help compete with the Android-based game systems like the Ouya have been made. Parental controls allow consumers to limit access to Internet media service content, via the Restrictions setting; individual services can be turned off (e.g., to reduce clutter), and their icons can be rearranged via the tap-and-hold technique à la iOS. Internet media is split into four categories: "Internet Photos", "YouTube", "Podcasts", and "Purchase and Rental". Each of the categories is configured by a parental control of "Show", "Hide" or "Ask" to prompt for a 4-digit preset code. In addition, movies, TV shows, music and podcasts can be restricted by rating.[22]

Local sources

Apple TV can sync or stream photos, music and videos from a computer running iTunes.[34]

A user can connect a computer on a local network to maintain a central home media library of ripped CD, DVD or HD content,[35] provide direct connectivity to photo organization software such as iPhoto,[36] limit home video access to a local network only,[37] play Internet radio,[38][39] or preload content on Apple TV to be used later as a non-networked video player.[40] For users who wish to connect the Apple TV to a computer, synchronization and streaming modes are supported.[34]

Apple TV in synchronization mode works in a way similar to the iPod. It is paired with an iTunes library on a single computer and can synchronize with that library, copying all or selected content to its own hard drive. Apple TV need not remain connected to the network after syncing.[40][41] Photos can sync from iPhoto, Aperture, or from a hard disk folder on a Mac, or Adobe Photoshop Album, Photoshop Elements, or from a hard disk folder in Windows.[42]

Apple TV can also function as a peer-to-peer digital media player, streaming content from iTunes libraries and playing the content over the network.[43][44]

First generation Apple TVs can stream content from up to five computers or iTunes libraries. Also, five Apple TVs can be linked to the same iTunes library. The second generation onwards of Apple TV allows users to stream content from more than one iTunes library: these additional iTunes libraries can be on the same or on different computers. This is possible when Apple TV and every iTunes library from which you want to stream content meet all of the following conditions: (1) The Apple TV and iTunes library you are streaming from are all on the same local network, (2) they use the iTunes "Home Sharing" feature, and (3) have the same "Home Sharing" Apple ID.

Supported formats

Apple TV supports the following audio, video, and picture formats:[45]


High or Main Profile level 4.0 or lower, Baseline profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 kbit/s per channel, 48 kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats.
  • MPEG-4 up to 720×432 (432p) or 640×480 pixels at 30 frame/s
MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbit/s, 640×480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 kbit/s, 48 kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats.
Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbit/s, 1280×720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format.



TV compatibility

  • Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI and capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50 Hz.
  • Requires HDCP when playing protected content.
  • A sustained 8 Mbit/s or faster Internet connection is recommended for viewing 1080p HD movies and TV shows, 6 Mbit/s or faster for viewing 720p content, and 2.5 Mbit/s or faster for SD content.

Attempts to sync unsupported content to Apple TV will draw an error message from iTunes.[47]

The first and second generation Apple TV's video output can be set to either 1080i or 1080p; however, this resolution is limited to the user interface and the viewing of photographs – all other content is simply upscaled to those resolutions. Those models cannot play 1080i or 1080p video content (e.g. HD camera video).[43][44][48][49][50] The third generation does support 1080p output.

Apple offers H.264 1080p movies and video podcasts on iTunes.[51] In comparison, Blu-ray Disc films are 1080p H.264 or VC-1 video encoded at rates of up to 40 Mbit/s.[52]

Apple TV's audio chip supports 7.1 surround sound,[53] and some high definition rentals from iTunes are offered with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.[54]

There is an Apple TV export option in QuickTime which allows content in some formats that the device does not support to be easily re-encoded.[55] Applications that use QuickTime to export media can use this; e.g. iMovie's Share menu,[56] iTunes' advanced menu,[57] and some third-party content conversion tools.[58]


File:Apple TV back.jpg
Back of 1st generation Apple TV
File:Apple TV 2nd Generation back.jpg
Back of 2nd & 3rd generation Apple TV

Apple TV streams video through an HDMI cable (Type A) connected to the TV's HDMI port. Audio is supported through the optical or HDMI ports. The device also has a Micro-USB port, which is reserved for service and diagnostics. The device connects through an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection to the computer for digital content from the internet and local networks. Apple TV does not come with audio, video or other cables, which must be acquired additionally as required.[59] On the previous Apple TV, media files could be transferred directly onto the device by syncing with another computer. Once content was stored on the device's hard drive, an internet connection was no longer needed to view content.[40] This is not the case with the current model, which does not have a hard drive.

The first generation Apple TV had component video and RCA connector audio ports, both removed in the second generation. The device does not have RCA/composite video or F/RF connectors.[44][60]


Main article: AirPlay

AirPlay allows iOS devices or an AirPort-enabled computer with the iTunes music player to send a stream of music to multiple (three to six, in typical conditions) stereos connected to an AirPort Express (the audio-only antecedent of Apple TV) or Apple TV.[61]

The AirPort Express' streaming media capabilities use Apple's Remote Audio Output Protocol (RAOP), a proprietary variant of RTSP/RTP. Using WDS-bridging,[62] the AirPort Express can allow AirPlay functionality (as well as Internet access, file and print sharing, etc.) across a larger distance in a mixed environment of wired and up to 10 wireless clients.

Speakers attached to an AirPort Express or Apple TV can be selected from within the "Remote" iPhone/iPod Touch program, allowing full AirPlay compatibility[63] (see "Remote control" section below).

A compatible Mac running OS X Mountain Lion or later can wirelessly mirror its screen to an Apple TV through AirPlay Mirroring[64] while one running OS X Mavericks or later can also extend its display with AirPlay Display.

Remote control

Apple TV can be controlled by many infrared remote controls[65] or paired with the included Apple Remote to prevent interference from other remotes.[43][66][67] Either kind of remote can control playback volume, but for music only.[7][68][69]

The Apple Wireless Keyboard is supported on the second-generation Apple TV and later using the built-in Bluetooth.[70] The consumer has the ability control media playback, navigate menus and input text and other information. Third-party keyboards that use the Apple layout may also be compatible.[70]

On July 10, 2008, Apple released Remote, a free iOS application that allows the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad to control the iTunes library on the Apple TV via Wi-Fi.[71][72] The recently released Apple Watch also has a remote app to control Apple TV.[73]


File:Apple TV 5.2.jpg
The interface used in the third generation Apple TV series featured a rounded rectangle tile interface.

1st Generation: The original Apple TV ran a modified build of Mac OS X v10.4Tiger[74] which was labeled as Apple TV software 1.0. This presented the user with an interface similar to that of Front Row. Like Front Row on the Mac, the "TV Shows" option allows the user to sort contents by show or date and the "Movies" option also allows the user to view movie trailers for new releases. All video content, including movies, TV shows, music videos, and video podcasts, includes bookmark functionality. Apple TV automatically bookmarks video content midstream to continue playback at a later time.[75] The "Music" submenu offers similar options to those found on an iPod, presenting the available music lsorted by artist, album, songs, genres, and composers, as well as offering a shuffle option and listing In February 2008, Apple released a major and free upgrade to the Apple TV, labelled "Take Two"(2.0). This update got rid of the front row interface and instead presented a new one in which content was organized in six groups (movies, TV shows, music, YouTube, podcasts, and photos) and presented in the initial menu along with a Settings option for configuration, including software updates.[76][77] The included Apple Remote was used to navigate through the menus by using the up or down buttons and selecting options with the play button. The left and right buttons were used to perform rewind and fast-forward functions while viewing video content and perform previous and next song functionality when selecting audio-only content. In October 2009, Apple released an upgrade for the Apple TV called Apple TV software 3.0. This update replaced the interface in version 2.0 with a new interface which presented seven horizontal columns across the top of the screen for the different categories of content(Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, Photos, Internet, and Settings). This update also added many new features such as content filtering, iTunes Extras, new fonts, and a new internet radio app. As categories are selected with the remote, animated album art is displayed on the side of the display for the contents of the selected category. While playing "audio-only" content such as music and audio podcasts, Apple TV periodically moves album art and content info on the TV display to prevent burn-in on video displays.[75]

Later Versions: From the second generation onwards, Apple TV runs a version of iOS, rather than the modified Mac OS X of the original model. The interface on Apple TV OS 4.1-4.4 is similar to that of previous versions, with only minor changes and feature additions throughout. On March 2012, Apple released a major new software update labeled as Apple TV OS 5(iOS 5.1), which shipped with the new third-generation Apple TV. This update completely revised the look of the home screen to make it resemble the icon grid seen on iOS. Instead of 7 vertical columns, content and third-party channels are shown in a tiled grid format which can be rearranged. In September 2012, Apple released Apple TV OS 5.1(iOS 6). This OS added support for iCloud Photo Streams. In January 2013, Apple released Apple TV OS 5.2(iOS 6.1). This release coincided with the release of Apple TV 3 Rev-A and added support for pairing Bluetooth keyboards with the Apple TV. In March and June, Apple followed up with Apple TV OS 5.2.1(iOS 6.1.3) and Apple TV OS 5.3(iOS 6.1.4) respectively, which added a plethora of content to the Apple TV. In September 2013, Apple released Apple TV OS 6.0(iOS 7) which added features such as iTunes Radio, iCloud Photos, and many other features. Because of a major security bug found inside of iOS, Apple released Apple TV OS 6.0.2(iOS 7.0.6) in February 2014 which fixed an SSL connection verification problem. In September 2014, Apple released Apple TV OS 6.2.1(iOS 7.1.2) exclusively to Apple TV 2nd generation owners to provide security fixes. With this update, Apple discontinued support for the ATV 2 since it did not receive ATV OS 7.0(iOS 8).

On that same date, Apple released Apple TV OS 7.0(iOS 8) to all Apple TV 3/Apple TV 3 Rev-A owners. This release added support for the "flat" look found on iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. Also, it added peer-to-peer AirPlay, Beats Music, and Family Sharing. All the releases from that point on(Apple TV OS 7.0.2-7.2) have all been minor updates adding nothing else but bug fixes and security updates. However, with Apple TV OS 7.2(iOS 8.3), Apple has since added a plethora of content with this update such as HBO Now.

Technical specifications

Obsolete Discontinued Current
Models 1st generation 2nd generation 3rd generation 3rd generation Rev. A
Release date(s) January 9, 2007 September 1, 2010 March 7, 2012 January 28, 2013
Discontinued September 1, 2010 March 7, 2012 March 10, 2013[78] In production
Model Number - Model ID - Order Number A1218 - AppleTV1,1 - MA711LL/A A1378 - AppleTV2,1 - MC572LL/A A1427 - AppleTV3,1 - MD199BZ/A A1469 - AppleTV3,2 - MD199LL/A
Processor 1 GHz Intel "Crofton" Pentium M[79] Apple A4 (ARM Cortex-A8) Apple A5 (Single core ARM Cortex-A9, dual core with one core closed) Apple A5 (ARM Cortex-A9) Single core (Redesign from A5 dual core).
Graphics Nvidia GeForce Go 7300 with 64 MB of VRAM[80] Apple A4 (PowerVR SGX535) Apple A5 (PowerVR SGX543MP2)
Memory 256 MB of 400 MHz DDR2 SDRAM[81] 256 MB[82] 512 MB[83]
Storage 40 or 160 GB hard disk 8 GB NAND Flash for Cache[83][84]
Connectivity USB 2.0 (officially for diagnostic use only, though hackers have managed to allow connectivity of hard disks, mice, and keyboards),[85] infrared receiver, HDMI, component video, optical audio Bluetooth,[70] Micro-USB (reserved for service and diags.), HDMI, infrared receiver, optical audio
Networking Wi-Fi (802.11b/g and draft-n), 10/100 Ethernet Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), 10/100 Ethernet
Output 720p over HDMI, Component Video 720p 60/50 Hz (NTSC/PAL), 576p 50 Hz (PAL) over HDMI only 1080p/720p/480p over HDMI only, HDCP capable
480p 60 Hz (NTSC)[86]
(480i 60 Hz is unofficially supported)
Audio Optical audio (48 kHz maximum sample rate), HDMI, RCA analog stereo audio Optical audio (48 kHz fixed sample rate), HDMI
Power Built-in universal 48 W power supply Built-in universal 6 W power supply
Dimensions Script error: No such module "convert". (h)
Script error: No such module "convert". (w)
Script error: No such module "convert". (d)
Script error: No such module "convert". (h)
Script error: No such module "convert". (w)
Script error: No such module "convert". (d)
Weight Script error: No such module "convert". Script error: No such module "convert".
Initial operating System Apple TV Software 1.0 (Modified build of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger) Apple TV Software 4.0 (based on iOS 4.1) Apple TV Software 5.0 (based on iOS 5.1) Apple TV Software 5.2[87] (based on iOS 6.1)
Current operating System Apple TV Software 3.0.2 (Modified build of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger) Apple TV Software 6.2.1 (based on iOS 7.1.2) Apple TV Software 7.2 (based on iOS 8.3)

Modifications and hacks

You can find the model number of your Apple TV by navigating inside your Apple TV to Settings, then General, and then About, and doing a web search for the model number shown there. For example, if you have model MC572LL/A, then you have a second generation Apple TV.

It's important to determine the generation of your device before starting any modification process. Not all modifications work on all generations. Presently there is no way to jailbreak a third generation Apple TV.

1st generation

During the days of the release of the first generation of Apple TV, various non-commercial and commercial hacks became available. These allowed users to remotely access the device, add support for other codecs, install a full-blown copy of Mac OS X Tiger, access the hard drive via USB, use the device to browse the web, use non-Apple remote controls, and download metadata from the IMDb.[25][88] In mid-2008, Fire Core released the aTV Flash software, which gives the Apple TV support for other media formats, a web browser, external USB hard drive support, and more.[89] A free and open-source alternative, atvusb-creator, does much the same using a simple graphical interface on both Mac and Windows.

As of June 2011, Apple does not prevent users from modifying their Apple TVs, but does warn that applying hacks may void the product's warranty.[90]

Installing updates for the Apple TV system software typically removes software hacks, but major Apple TV hacks are updated regularly.[91]

Most plugins for Front Row are minor and have not been updated to work with Apple TV running iOS 2.x. AwkwardTV reports 10 plugins out of 32 have been certified compatible with the "Take Two" update.[92]

Popular modifications include replacing/complementing Apple TV's Front Row interface with alternative media center software, including Plex, XBMC Media Center, and Boxee.[25][93] Though Boxee installs a Netflix Watch Instantly plugin, the Apple TV does not have enough processing power to run the Silverlight framework that the Netflix plugin depends on.[94][95]

Users have also upgraded the first generation's internal hard drive.[96]

A hardware hack allows the first generation of Apple TV to output color through composite video.[97]

True 1080p playback and video output can be enabled on the first generation Apple TV by installing a Broadcom CrystalHD PCI-e card and version 10.0 (Dharma) and later of XBMC running on Linux instead of the native Mac OS X 10.4.x based operating system. This has been available since June 2010 and was originally created by Sam Nazarko. In March 2011, Nazarko released a GUI installer for both Linux and Windows platforms allowing quick installation of his minimal[citation needed] distribution. The distribution offers PVR support and AirPlay and still receives updates to this day.[98]

AirPlay video and photo streaming is now available on the first generation by installing the Remote HD plugin, Plex or XBMC Media Center.[citation needed]

2nd generation

The Apple TV (2nd generation) is the first to have an operating system based on a version of iOS.

Developers have applied iOS jailbreaking so that software unapproved by Apple that may void the warranty may be installed on this model of Apple TV. This can be accomplished by downloading the Apple TV's firmware from Apple's servers, then using a custom firmware application like Seas0nPass[99] or PwnageTool[100] to create a custom firmware. Users then connect their Apple TV to iTunes, place the Apple TV in DFU mode, and restore the custom firmware to the Apple TV.

This custom firmware provides SSH support to the device where users may use APT to install software to the device, or a GUI version similar to Cydia called NitoTV which includes access to software drivers to enable the built-in Bluetooth functions. There is a limited amount of Apple TV compatible software. On January 20, 2011, the XBMC team released the first official version of XBMC Media Center for this second generation device. A limited thin client release of Plex Media Center has also been released.[when?]

In February 2011, Greenpois0n RC6 brought full untethered jailbreak support for second generation on iOS 4.2.1 with a simpler jailbreak method than Seas0nPass or PwnageTool.[101]

3rd generation

The Apple TV (3rd generation) was released in March 2012. After three years on the market, the hacker community has failed to jailbreak the third generation device. According to FireCore LLC, there is a group of individuals attempting to discover a method to jailbreak the device. However, many leaders in the Apple TV hacker community have admitted defeat. The bootrom of Apple TV has been hardened to defend against the exploit used to jailbreak the second generation of Apple TV. A bootrom-level exploit is needed for a jailbreak because Apple TV disables its Micro-USB port until the device is fully booted. Plexconnect (giving Plex functionality) is available without a jailbreak for 2nd and 3rd generation.[102][103]

3rd generation Rev A

The Apple TV (3rd generation) Rev A was released on January 28, 2013. Just like the previous version of 3rd generation, it has no bootrom exploit and there are currently no jailbreaks available for this model.



Apple TV does not contain a TV tuner, nor a personal video recorder.[43][47] Both capabilities can be applied to the connected home computer through various third-party products, such as allowing PVR software to connect to iTunes and enable scheduled HDTV recordings to play automatically via Apple TV for playback.[104]

The Front Row interface lacks some iTunes functionality, including rating items, checking the account balance, adding funds to the account, synchronizing from more than one computer,[105] full Internet radio support,[44][106] and games.[107]

The Movies search box only searches the iTunes Store, not local hard drives and networks.[108]

Movies rented on Apple TV must be watched on Apple TV, unlike iTunes rentals, which can be transferred to any video-enabled iPod, iPhone or Apple TV.[109][110] Movies purchased on Apple TV can be moved to a video-enabled iPod or iPhone via iTunes.[111]

Apple TV does not support the HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI CEC) protocol for automatic control by TV Remote.

On the Apple TV (2nd generation), digital output audio is up-sampled to 48 kHz, including lossless CD rips at 44.1 kHz. Although this is a higher frequency and the difference is not audible in most cases, it means the audio is not 'bit perfect' which is often a goal for digital transmission of data.[112]

Former limitations

Photos were required to be synced to the device until an iTunes update enabled streaming.[113]

The February 2008 release of the 2.0 ("Take Two") software update allowed users to rent standard-resolution or HD movies with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Previously, Apple TV had officially supported only Dolby Pro Logic simulated 5.1,[48] though the full 5.1 Surround Sound digital discrete worked if a 5.1-capable receiver was connected via the optical cable to Apple TV and the audio content was encoded as lossless.[114][115] QuickTime and Apple TV did not ship with an AC-3 codec,[116] and iTunes Store content only supported 4.0 surround sound.[117] News sites were reporting that some users had worked out how to add AC-3 (Dolby Digital) 5.1 channel support by hacking the unit.[118]

Before the 2.3 update, the Apple remote could control sound volume and Front Row navigation via a Macintosh computer, but only volume via Apple TV.[43][47]

Critics claimed that Apple TVs TV-based interface was "cluttered" and difficult to browse or search for a specific movie, requiring Netflix-like queues and "watched" flags or dates.[119][120] Apple released movie wish lists, video playlists, and "watched" flags in Apple TV software versions 2.1 through 2.4.[7][121]

The original Apple TV used the older QuickTime 7 engine,[122] so it cannot play videos which use H.264 Sample Aspect Ratio (which requires QuickTime X).[123][124] The second generation of Apple TV supports H.264.[125]


1st generation

Within the first week of presales in January 2007, Apple TV was the top pre-selling item at the Apple Store.[126] Orders exceeded 100,000 units by the end of January and Apple began ramping-up to sell over a million units before the 2007 holiday season.[127] Analysts began calling it a "DVD killer"[128] that could enable multiple services. Analysts also predicted that Apple could sell up to 1.5 million units in the first year.[129] Besides the Apple Store, Best Buy was one of the first retailers to carry the device;[130] Target and Costco[131] followed shortly thereafter.

Two months into sales, Forrester Research predicted that Apple would only sell a million Apple TV units, because consumers prefer advertisement-supported content over paid content. Forrester predicted that cable companies would be the clear winners over content providers such as the iTunes Store.[132] Shortly after, Apple released YouTube functionality and Jobs stated that Apple TV was a "DVD player for the Internet". Some market analysts predicted that YouTube on Apple TV "provides a glimpse of this product's potential and its future evolution",[133] but overall, analysts had mixed reactions regarding the future of Apple TV. Some negative reactions followed after Jobs referred to the device as a "hobby", implying it was less significant than the Macintosh, iPod, and iPhone.[134]

In the fourth quarter of 2008, sales were triple that of the fourth quarter of 2007.[135]

In Apple's first-quarter 2009 financial results conference call, acting chief executive Tim Cook stated that Apple TV sales increased three times over the same quarter a year ago. Cook mentioned that the movie rental business was working well for Apple, Apple would continue investment in movie rentals and Apple TV, but Apple TV is still considered a hobby for the company.[135] Due to the growth of digital TV and consumers turning to Internet media services, an analyst predicted sales of 6.6 million Apple TVs by the end of 2009.[136]

2nd generation

The second generation sold 250,000 units in the first two weeks it was available. On December 21, 2010, Apple announced that they had sold 1 million units.[137] In the second fiscal quarter of 2011, it had topped 2 million in total sales, with 820,000 sold in that quarter alone.[138]

On January 24, 2012, Apple announced they had sold 1.4 million units in the first fiscal quarter of 2012,[139] and 2.8 million units in all of fiscal year 2011.[140] (4.2 million units through January 1, 2012).

3rd generation

Tim Cook revealed at the All Things Digital conference in May 2012 that Apple had sold 2.7 million of the 3rd generation model in 2012.[141]

In the Q4 FY2012 earnings call, Engadget reported comments from Tim Cook that Apple had shipped 1.3 million Apple TV units in the 4th Quarter (presumed to be 3rd generation).[142]

MacObserver reported statements by Tim Cook in the Q1 FY2013 earnings call that Apple sold over 2 million Apple TV units in the December Quarter (presumed to be 3rd generation).[143]

These reports lead to a cumulative volume of the 3rd generation device of 6 million units, as of January 1, 2013.

On February 28, 2014 at Apple's shareholders meeting Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that in 2013 Apple TV brought in 1 billion dollars of revenue for Apple[144]

A market survey published by Parks Associates in December 2014 found that Apple TV has lost consumer traction to Google Chromecast, garnering only a 17% market share.[145]

Tim Cook revealed at the Apple Watch conference on March 9, 2015 that Apple had sold a total of 25 million Apple TVs to date.[146]

Mac Mini comparison

A Mac Mini with Front Row Interface

Apple enthusiasts seeking an alternative to the Apple TV sometimes consider the Mac Mini hardware as a more powerful, albeit more expensive, solution for a Home Theater PC (HTPC) option.[147][148] As a full-featured computer, it lacks the out-of-the-box simplicity and ease of use of the Apple TV. Unlike the Apple TV and other iOS devices, the Mac Mini must be authorized for FairPlay, reducing available authorizations for other computers. However, once configured for home theater applications, viewers were able to use the supplied remote control to activate and navigate Front Row, though other media management packages are still an option.[149] Front Row was only available with Mac OS X 10.4 to 10.6, but was removed in Mac OS X Lion (10.7) onwards. Advantages include expandable storage, support for multiple video and audio codecs, and access to third party media management software. The Mac Mini remote can also control volume for all applications including video and music.

The Mac Mini can stream content from services like YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and Netflix, using a browser. Until recently it was possible to integrate such services as Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and Netflix via several full featured free HTPC applications like Plex and Kodi Entertainment Center (formally XBMC Media Centre) but this is no longer possible. As of 2014 Amazon, Hulu and Netflix extensions to both Plex and Kodi (XBMC) are broken and there appear to be no plans to support those services going forward.

The Apple TV must be hacked to add software such as Plex and Kodi Entertainment Center, to partly compensate for the lack of browser-based functionality. Since this is not a stock set up, official software updates remove the hack[150] and it could void the warranty.[151]

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External links

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