Apple TV’s new firmware lets you stream straight from the cloud

apple tv 6 0 update is live allows airplay streaming from icloud splash screen

Apple released on Friday an update to Apple TV, which allows AirPlay streaming of music, TV shows, and Movies from iCloud rather than directly from iOS devices. The update also includes access to iTunes Radio, podcast syncing, and enables purchasing of content from the iTunes store through the Apple TV set-top box. 

Perhaps the most notable new feature in Apple TV 6.0  is AirPlay streaming from iCloud – at least, it should be (see below). Previously, users had to stream TV shows and Movies purchased through iTunes from their devices over a Wi-Fi network, a practice which was a drain on battery life and subject to Wi-Fi signal strength. Now, users can simply stream from the cloud directly to the Apple TV box. The update is also meant to allow a simpler way to play purchased content on someone else’s Apple TV without the hassle of switching iCloud account logins – just cue up a stream directly from an iOS device, and the foreign Apple TV will begin to play it. To enable AirPlay from iCloud, users must click Settings > AirPlay > “Play from iTunes in the Cloud,” and select “auto.”

In addition to the aforementioned features, Apple TV will now play back photos and videos from shared photo streams and automatically updates apps.

We gave the new update a spin, and it works more or less as expected. Purchased movies and TV shows now show up under a “purchased” tab and can be played without the involvement of an iOS device. iTunes Radio, at first blush, works in the same way it does through iTunes, and we were able to view both photos and videos in our Photo Stream without a hitch.

What isn’t immediately apparent, though, is when the Apple TV is taking a stream that originates from an iOS device and turning to the cloud as its source rather than streaming through the device itself. During our tests, we began a TV show using our device to stream to Apple TV via AirPlay. Some reports indicate that playing from the cloud can result in a long buffering period, but we’ve not yet witnessed that phenomenon. We tried turning our iPhone off and the stream stopped, indicating Apple TV requires the device be on for authentication purposes at the least. We also tried killing our cable modem to ensure Internet access was no longer flowing though the network. The TV show continued, indicating it wasn’t coming from the cloud, unless Apple has built in some sort of protocol that reverts back to the originating device as the content source.

Still, since the TV show we were streaming is not stored on our device, we know that it was coming from the cloud, we’re just not certain when/whether Apple TV sources the content directly from the cloud, or through an iOS device. And that’s a bit of a frustration since, as we see it, one of the proposed benefits to AirPlay streaming from the cloud is that the device doesn’t have to do all the work, sparing the battery. 

Business

Apple is still selling iPhones in China despite being ordered not to

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Deals

The best iPad deals for December 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Wearables

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Home Theater

Fluance’s four beautiful new turntables arrive with easy-to-stomach prices

Acclaimed audio brand Fluance launched four new turntables as part of its new Reference series, aiming to offer elegant looks and pristine sound to those who are just getting into the world of high-end analog audio.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (January 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in December 2018 and January 2019, from new original series to classic…
Home Theater

Google Assistant gets the Marshall treatment with two new smart speakers

Marshall's Voice-series were already some of the most stylish smart speakers on the market, but now they're available as Google Assistant-compatible editions. This makes Marshall one of the few companies to support both Alexa and Google.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Killing Eve'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Music

Bolster your HD music catalog with the best high-res audio sites

Music connoisseurs relish HD audio, but scouring the web for all the best streaming and downloading sites can be a pain. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Check out our list, and let the high-resolution good times roll.