Fourth-Generation 1080p Apple TV Gets a New ‘Apple TV HD’ Name

Following the announcement of Apple's upcoming revamped TV app and new Apple TV+ subscription service for original content, Apple today updated the branding on its fourth-generation 2015 1080p Apple TV set-top box, renaming it "Apple TV HD."

The new Apple TV HD is being offered alongside the more expensive Apple TV 4K, which is the fifth-generation Apple TV released in 2017.


Apple has continued selling the 32GB $149 fourth-generation Apple TV alongside the 4K model for those who don't need 4K content. The Apple TV 4K is $30 more expensive, starting at $179 for 32GB of storage.

Both the Apple TV 4K and the rebranded Apple TV HD will provide access to the revamped TV app, which will house Apple's upcoming Apple TV+ subscription service for its original content and offer access to TV "Channels" right within the TV app.

With the redesigned TV app, you won't need to swap between different TV apps to access your favorite shows, as your subscriptions to services like HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, and Noggin and will let you watch content from those services in the TV app. If you're not already a subscriber, you can even subscribe to those "Channels" in the TV app.

Apple TV Channels will be limited to a handful of cable channels at launch, though Apple plans to add more in the future. Hulu and Netflix will not be participating, so you will still need to open up the Hulu and Netflix apps to watch that content.

The updated TV app will be even better at recommending content to you that you might want to watch, and it will incorporate more than 150 streaming apps, including Amazon Prime, Hulu, and all of the Apple TV Channels for personalization and content recommendation purposes. As mentioned above, some of the content will be watchable right in the TV app, while other content will bring you to a third-party app.

The TV app will be home to Apple's TV+ service, which is launching this fall. TV+ will offer up access to all of Apple's original programming, and the company has more than 30 shows in the works.

Apple plans to introduce its revamped Apple TV app through an iOS and tvOS update coming this May. Apple also plans to bring the TV app to the Mac this fall.

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Apple Releases tvOS 12.2 for Fourth and Fifth-Generation Apple TV

Apple today released tvOS 12.2, the fifth update to the tvOS 12 operating system designed for fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models. tvOS 12.2 comes more than two months after the launch of tvOS 12.1.2.

tvOS 12.2, a free update, can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System --> Software Update. Apple TV owners who have automatic software updates turned on will be upgraded to tvOS 12.2 automatically.


tvOS 12.2, when paired with iOS 12.2, is designed to allow users to ask Siri to play specific media on an Apple TV from an iOS device. You can, for example, ask Siri to play Modern Family on the TV in the living room, or Pitch Perfect on the TV in the bedroom. This feature is available for music, TV shows, and movies.

No other new features were discovered during the tvOS 12.2 beta testing period, and because Apple does not provide release notes for tvOS updates, it is difficult to determine what else might be new in the operating system.

tvOS updates are often minor in scale, however, so the update may primarily focus on bug fixes and other small changes rather than major new features.

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WSJ on Apple’s Video Service: Starz, Showtime, and HBO to Cost $9.99 Per Month, Roku May Gain Apple TV App

The Wall Street Journal has outlined its expectations for Apple's media event tomorrow at Steve Jobs Theater, where the company is expected to introduce subscription-based services for movies and TV shows, magazines and newspapers, and possibly games. The keynote begins Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.


As we've heard previously, the report claims Apple plans to unveil the first footage from some of its new original TV shows at the event. Hollywood stars such as actress Reese Witherspoon and director J.J. Abrams have been invited to attend.

The report claims Apple plans to charge a fee for its original content, despite some sources previously saying it would be free to Apple device owners.

Apple's revamped TV app will make it easier to subscribe to networks such as Starz, Showtime and HBO, with which Apple has been "negotiating to offer their shows to users for $9.99 a month each." It's unclear if that means each network will cost $9.99 per month or if each user will pay $9.99 per month total.

Apple is said to be negotiating to bring its new TV app to multiple platforms, including Roku and smart TVs. This could refer to an expansion of the new iTunes movies and TV shows app coming to Samsung's latest smart TVs to other leading TV brands such as Sony and LG and to cheaper brands such as TCL and Sharp via Roku.

Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio already announced that their latest smart TVs are gaining AirPlay 2 support, enabling users to stream video, audio, photos, and other content directly from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to the big screen. Apple and Roku are also in advanced discussions about AirPlay 2 support.

Apple is also expected to unveil a revamped News app with an optional premium tier that provides access to more than 200 magazines, including Bon Appétit, People, and Glamour, as well as newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal. The report claims Apple plans to charge $9.99 per month for the service.


The revamped Apple News app is expected to be based on Texture, the magazine subscription service that Apple acquired last year. The report claims The Washington Post and The New York Times are not participating in the service at launch due to disagreements over Apple's alleged 50-50 revenue split.

The report goes on to mention how Apple CEO Tim Cook began holding monthly meetings with Apple's services division around late 2017 as the company aims to grow its revenue from existing subscription offerings such as Apple Music and iCloud storage.

These meetings are said to include "monitoring of apps that benefit and threaten Apple":
For Mr. Cook's monthly services meetings, the company has intensified monitoring of apps that benefit and threaten Apple. The team has created a release radar for the CEO to track apps that are expected to sell well and other metrics for the apps that have challenged Apple's business, including iTunes sales decreases compared with Apple Music subscription growth…
Apple's video and news subscription offerings will certainly help the company expand its service portfolio further, but its exact plans are still clouded in secrecy. In less than 24 hours, we'll have a better understanding.

Apple will provide a livestream of the event.

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Apple Plans to Sell Bundles of Cable TV Channels Through New Streaming Service

While Apple's new TV streaming service will include its own original content, Apple will also be offering customers access to video streaming subscriptions from third-party services, such as HBO and Showtime.

Part of this effort could potentially include bundles of channels from various content providers, according to new reports from Recode and The Information.


Apple has negotiated rights to bundle streaming services together as part of its deals with media firms, which will allow it to offer packages of channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz at a price that's lower than what each service would cost on a standalone basis. From Recode:
That wholesale/retail relationship also means Apple, not the streamers, can set the price for the stuff it sells. Apple isn't likely to sell, say, HBO for less than HBO sells itself on rival platforms like Roku. But it definitely plans to sell bundles of pay tv channels at a discount, just like pay TV operators have always done.
It's not entirely clear when Apple plans to offer bundles like these, but providing discounted access to a group of channels would provide Apple with an edge over Amazon. Amazon, as The Information points out, allows customers to sign up for streaming services like Showtime through their Amazon account, but customers must pay full price.

According to Recode, Apple's service isn't going to be a major Netflix or Hulu competitor because the focus is going to be on selling streaming video subscriptions from other companies and taking a cut of the transaction. Apple is working on original content, but its own shows and movies "should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product."

Apple is offering its content partners a revenue share that's similar to Amazon, which keeps 30 to 50 percent of the subscription fee. Apple, however, won't be offering access to as much data as Amazon provides. Still, The Information says publishers find bundling "appealing," and Apple has been touting its huge subscriber base to score deals. Apple's subscription TV content will be made available through its existing TV app which is available on the Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad.

There's no word on which channels Apple will include in bundles, but Apple has signed deals with 15 streaming channels for separate subscriptions, including digital only services like Cheddar and Tastemade and TV channels like Showtime and Starz. Apple has not yet inked a deal with HBO.

Apple is going to introduce its streaming service at its upcoming March 25 event, and the service is expected to launch in the United States later in the spring before expanding to additional countries.

Apple is also unveiling an Apple News subscription service at the event, and rumors have suggested that the TV and news services could be bundled with Apple Music as part of one subscription for Apple users. Apple is also going to announce an Apple credit card provided by Goldman Sachs.

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‘Downton Abbey’ Star Michelle Dockery and ‘IT’ Actor Jaeden Martell Join Apple Series ‘Defending Jacob’

Michelle Dockery, best know for her role as Lady Mary Crawley in PBS's "Downton Abbey," has signed on to star in "Defending Jacob," one of the TV shows Apple has ordered.

"Defending Jacob" is a thriller based on William Landay's bestselling novel of the same title. The book covers the murder of a 14-year-old boy and his friend Jacob, who may have committed the crime.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Described as a character-driven thriller, the show will star Chris Evans and also Jaeden Martell, who starred in the recent remake of Stephen King's "IT."

Evans will be playing Andy Barber, the father of a 14 year old (played by Martell) accused of murder. Dockery will be playing Laurie Barber, Andy's wife and Jacob's mother.

Apple has more than a dozen television shows in the works, and the company is set to give us a first look at its upcoming streaming service on Monday, March 25 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

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Eddy Cue Says Apple Isn’t Interested in Exclusive Rights to Live Sports Games

A new Sports Illustrated article offers a look inside Apple's so-called sports surveillance room at its Results Way office complex in Cupertino, California, where a team of Apple employees have been monitoring sports events for newsworthy and unpredictable moments for almost a year now.


The report says the team manages the sports subsection in Apple's TV app and its Apple TV interface, highlighting what's available around the clock and sending notifications about exciting moments like a playoff game reaching triple overtime.

Apple's services chief Eddy Cue reflected on the company's broader goal of curating sports, using retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant's 81-point performance in an otherwise unremarkable Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors game in the 2006 NBA playoffs as an example of a sports moment worth highlighting.

"It was amazing to watch, but the vast majority even of Lakers fans didn't see it," said Cue. "As a fan, I've always looked at it as an opportunity."

For now, though, Apple doesn't appear to have any larger ambitions with sports. Asked how much he thinks about competing against Facebook and Amazon, both of which have experimented with airing live sports games on their platforms with exclusive rights, Cue responded "not a lot, honestly."

From the report:
"That's not to say we would never do sports, because who the heck knows," he said. "Never is a long time, but I don't think that's a problem right now." Sports rights are deeply fragmented, with different owners split by platform and region. "You really can't own all the rights, so therefore at some point you need to solve some other problems," Cue said. "You can't design for owning the rights because if that's the only thing you're doing you're always going to be tiny."
In other words, don't expect Apple to have its own sports broadcasts in its widely expected streaming video service, although it could provide sports content from partnered networks.

Read the full Sports Illustrated article for a deeper dive into Apple's sports content efforts.

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Netflix CEO Confirms Netflix Won’t Be Part of Apple’s Upcoming Video Service

Apple is set to unveil its long-rumored TV service next Monday, and ahead of the event, Netflix has confirmed that it won't be participating in Apple's streaming offering.

At a briefing at the company's headquarters in Hollywood, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that while Apple is a "great company," Netflix isn't interested in offering its content on other platforms. "We want to have people watch our shows on our services," he said, according to Recode.


Netflix has never embraced Apple TV features like "Up Next" designed to allow Apple TV users to see all of their watched TV shows at a glance, so it's no surprise to hear that Netflix does not plan to offer its content through Apple's upcoming streaming service.

Set to be launched next week, Apple's TV offering will feature both its original content and add-on content from other cable providers like Showtime and HBO. Apple will allow customers to sign up for subscriptions to third-party services like HBO right within the TV app, which will serve as Apple's TV content hub.

Apple's video hub will be similar to what Amazon offers through its Prime Video app. Amazon provides original TV shows along with options to subscribe to premium content through a Channels feature.

In response to a question about how Netflix will compete with Apple and Amazon going forward, Hastings said the company will do so "with difficulty," though he pointed out that Netflix has already been competing with Amazon for years.

"You do your best job when you have great competitors," he said, before admitting that the increased competition has led to higher prices when sourcing content.

Apple is going to give us a first look at its video service on Monday, March 25, at an event set to be held at its Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Multiple celebrities that are starring in Apple shows, like Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon, will be present.

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Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of Upcoming tvOS 12.2 Update to Developers

Apple today seeded the sixth beta of an upcoming tvOS 12.2 update to developers for testing purposes, one week after seeding the fifth beta and more than a month after releasing the tvOS 12.1.2 update.

Designed for the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models, the new tvOS 12.2 developer beta can be downloaded onto the Apple TV via a profile that's installed using Xcode. Once the initial beta has been downloaded, subsequent betas can be installed over the air.


tvOS 12.2, paired with iOS 12.2, lets users ask Siri to play specific media on an Apple TV from an iOS device. You can, for example, ask Siri to play Modern Family on the TV in the living room, or Pitch Perfect on the TV in the bedroom. This works for music and TV shows, and movies.

No other new features were discovered in the tvOS 12.2 beta as of yet, and it can be difficult to determine what's new because Apple does not provide release notes for tvOS betas or releases. If additional features are discovered in tvOS 12.2, we'll update this post.

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Apple Formally Orders ‘Pachinko’ TV Series Based on Bestselling Novel

Apple has given a formal series order for "Pachinko," a drama based on the bestselling novel of the same name, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Pachinko" chronicles the lives of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they migrate to and establish a life in Japan. Apple first acquired the rights to a TV show based on the book in August 2018.

The novel begins in 1911 with the birth of Sunja, who becomes involved with a married yakuza, falling pregnant and facing ruin in her small village. The town's minister offers her a new life in Japan as his wife, where she is alone, lost, and unable to speak the language. The book then follows the Sunja's family through eight decades and four generations.

The TV adaptation of "Pachinko" will be written and produced by Soo Hugh, who will also serve as showrunner. Hugh has previously worked on "The Terror," "The Whispers," "Under the Dome," and "The Killing." Eight episodes are planned so far.

Apple has more than a dozen original TV shows in the works, which will be distributed through an upcoming streaming service that will be made available in the TV app.

Apple is hosting a March 25 event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, where it is expected to unveil details on the TV service.

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Apple’s Upcoming ‘Time Bandits’ Series to Be Directed by Taika Waititi

Taika Watiti, known for his work on "Thor: Ragnarok," will direct Apple's adaptation of Terry Gilliam's 1981 fantasy television series "Time Bandits," reports Variety.

Apple acquired the rights to the "Time Bandits" series back in the summer of 2018. The original show featured the story of an imaginative 11-year-old boy named Kevin who was sucked into a fantastical adventure with a band of dwarves during the Napoleonic Wars in Italy.


Kevin and the band of dwarves travel through time using a magical map, visiting ancient Greece, the Titanic, and more, all while fighting off an evil being intent on stealing the time travel map.

The original film starred John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Kenny Baker, David Warner, Ian Holm, Katherine Helmond, Jim Broadbent, and others.


In addition to "Thor: Ragnarok," Waititi is known for his work on "What We Do in the Shadows" and "Hunt for the Wilderpeople." He is also directing a "What We Do in the Shadows" television series for FX.

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