With the latest iTunes update made available today, Apple has finally integrated iTunes Extras support into the neglected offspring that is Apple TV. The move is a step in the right direction considering that Roku now leads the set-top box scene in both overall sales and usage. Roku boxes, according to figures from Multichannel News, accounted for 46 percent of all set-top box purchases last year (the Apple TV trailed far behind with a 26-percent share), and among U.S. homes with streaming media players, 44 percent opt for the Roku over Apple TV’s 26 percent.
iOS 8 will receive support for iTunes Extras sometime this fall.
iTunes Extras are essentially just digitized versions of those extras and special features that come standard with just about every DVD and Blu-ray release these days. That can include commentary from directors, actors or other personnel, bonus/deleted scenes, music videos for portions of the soundtrack, and behind-the-scenes/making-of clips. Apple unveiled the 11.3 version of iTunes today, and with it comes Apple TV support for the Extras feature.
But the iTunes Extras feature has been transferred wholly to a Cloud-based platform as an additional aspect of the the new iTunes release. A potential game-changer, the new format means that film studios will be able to edit and add new content to individual movies’ Special Feature bundles. Say an independent filmmaker was documenting the entire production process of Prometheus, but wasn’t able to get his footage together into a cohesive film in time for the Blu-ray/DVD release. Well, provided that the film’s studio is partnered with Apple, of course, that filmmaker could theoretically have his documentary footage digitized and added to Prometheus‘ iTunes Extras package. Studios are likely already coming up with further applications for the expanded functionality.
Users can choose to download the update from Apple.com or the App store, or they can simply update their Apple TV itself to add the support. Now we just wait for Apple to drop the long-awaited hardware upgrade for the streaming device.