Apple TV update adds shared photo streams, AirPlay audio support

Apple TV (feature)

Detailed extensively on the support section of Apple’s site, Apple has released iOS 5.1 for the Apple TV earlier today. The updated operating system brings a barrage of new features including shared photo streams, support for account switching and AirPlay improvements. In order to access the shared photo streams feature, the Photos app must be launched. Within the Photos app, the Apple TV owner will find all photo streams shared with the account as well as their personal iCloud photo stream. From this interface, the user can unsubscribe to a shared stream or launch into a slideshow of the photos in a shared stream. In addition, shared photos streams can be used as the main screensaver when the Apple TV isn’t in operation.

Apple TV (hand)Regarding iTunes account switching, this has been included to allow multiple members of a household to access different content tied to a specific account and perhaps stored within the cloud. After adding two or more accounts within the Settings section of the operating system, the user can switch between multiple accounts easily.

As for AirPlay improvements, Apple now allows users to send audio content from the Apple TV to AirPlay-enabled speakers and other devices. The user will be able to see all AirPlay-connected devices on the home network when accessing the AirPlay menu under the Settings application.

Beyond those main additions to the new version of iOS, Apple has added the ability to search through movie trailers as well as view showtimes at local theaters within the United States. Similar to user interfaces on Rotten Tomatoes or Google’s movies section, the user only needs to enter a zip code to view showtimes at local theaters. Apple has added three new screensavers called “Cascade, Shrinking Tiles, and Sliding Panels.” Specifically for the hearing-impaired community, Apple has added Subtitles for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (SDH) support as well as improvements to the interface when selecting subtitles. 

Apple TV 2012 review remoteBesides stability improvements and bug fixes, the final new feature that may please iPhone or iPad owners is the ability to reorder application icons on the screen. While the icons for Movies, TV Shows, Music, Computers, and Settings have to stay fixed to their current positions, applications like Netflix and Hulu Plus can be relocated on the screen.

In order to access this function, the user uses the direction pad to highlight a specific app icon and holds down the Select button on the remote. Once the application’s icon starts wiggling, the icon can be moved to a different location within the user interface. This can be particularly handy for moving unused apps to the bottom of the page.

In order to manually update the operating system on the Apple TV, the user needs to open the settings menu and locate “Update Software” under the general options section. After selecting the download option, the Apple TV will take a few minutes to download the updated version of iOS and install the software. It’s normal for the Apple TV to automatically restart after the new operating system is installed. The new version of iOS has been designed for both the second and third generation Apple TV devices.