3rd generation Apple TV
|Operating system||1st: 3.0.2
Based on Mac OS X 10.4
Released February 10, 2010
2nd: 6.2 (6698.99.19)
Based on iOS 7.1.2
Released June 30, 2014
3rd and 3rd Rev A: 7.3
Based on iOS 8.4
Released April 8, 2015
|Weight||1st: 2.4 lb (1.1 kg)
2nd, 3rd, and 3rd Rev A: 0.6 lb (0.27 kg)
Apple TV 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 a 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; MLB.tv, NBA League Pass and NHL GameCenter. It plays content from any Mac OS X or Windows computer running iTunes.
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. 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.
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.
On July 10, 2008, Apple released the iTunes Remote app on the App Store, 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. 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.
The second generation Apple TV was unveiled on September 1, 2010. 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. 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. On January 28, 2013, Apple released a third generation "Rev A" which included component changes.
On March 9, 2015, Apple reduced the price of the third-generation (Rev A) Apple TV to $69.
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) offered iTunes, Flickr, MobileMe/.Mac and YouTube. The second generation added Netflix. Both models supported downloading/streaming podcasts.
Supported Internet media services include:
Unconfirmed reports have been made about porting iOS apps to the Apple TV in order to better compete with the Android-based game systems, such as the Ouya. Parental controls allow consumers to limit access to Internet media service content via "Restrictions" settings; individual services can be turned off (e.g., to reduce clutter), 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 PIN. In addition, movies, TV shows, music and podcasts can be restricted by rating.
A user can connect a computer on a local network to maintain a central home media library of ripped CD, DVD or HD content, provide direct connectivity to photo organization software such as iPhoto, limit home video access to a local network only, play Internet radio, or preload content on Apple TV to be used later as a non-networked video player. For users who wish to connect the Apple TV to a computer, synchronization and streaming modes are supported.
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. Photos can be synced 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.
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 Apple TV onwards 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 the iTunes library you are streaming from are both on the same local network, (2) each uses the iTunes "Home Sharing" feature, and (3) each are using the same "Home Sharing" Apple ID.
Apple TV supports the following audio, video, and picture formats:
Attempts to sync unsupported content to Apple TV will draw an error message from iTunes.
The first- and second-generation Apple TV 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). The third generation does support 1080p output.
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. Applications that use QuickTime to export media can use this; e.g., iMovie's Share menu, iTunes' advanced menu, and some third-party content conversion tools.
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 Ethernet or Wi-Fi 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. 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, Internet connectivity was no longer needed to view content. This is not the case with the current model, which does not have a hard drive for storing media.
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.
The AirPort Express' streaming media capabilities use Apple's Remote Audio Output Protocol (RAOP), a proprietary variant of RTSP/RTP. Using WDS-bridging, 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 (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 while one running OS X Mavericks or later can also extend its display with AirPlay Display.
Apple TV can be controlled by many infrared remote controls or paired with the included Apple Remote to prevent interference from other remotes. Either kind of remote can control playback volume, but for music only.
The Apple Wireless Keyboard is supported on the second-generation Apple TV and later using the built-in Bluetooth. The consumer has the ability to control media playback, navigate menus and input text and other information. Third-party keyboards that use the Apple layout may also be compatible.
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. The recently released Apple Watch also has a remote app to control Apple TV.
1st Generation: The original Apple TV ran a modified build of Mac OS X v10.4Tiger 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. The "Music" submenu offers similar options to those found on an iPod, presenting the available music sorted by artist, album, song, genre, and composer, 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 did away with Front Row and introduced a new interface in which content was organized into six categories (movies, TV shows, music, YouTube, podcasts, and photos) and presented in the initial menu, along with a "Settings" option for configuration, including software updates. 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 to perform previous and next track 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.
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 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 update 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 third-generation Apple TV "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 flaw found in 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 TV OS 6.2.1 (iOS 7.1.2) was released exclusively to second-generation Apple TV owners to provide security fixes. With this update, Apple discontinued support for the second-generation Apple TV since it did not receive Apple TV OS 7.0 (iOS 8).
On that same date, Apple released Apple TV OS 7.0 (iOS 8) to all third-generation Apple TV (including 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 only 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.
|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||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||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||Apple A4 (PowerVR SGX535)||Apple A5 (PowerVR SGX543MP2)|
|Memory||256 MB of 400 MHz DDR2 SDRAM||256 MB||512 MB|
|Storage||40 or 160 GB hard disk||8 GB NAND Flash for Cache|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0 (officially for diagnostic use only, though hackers have managed to allow connectivity of hard disks, mice, and keyboards), infrared receiver, HDMI, component video, optical audio||Bluetooth, 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)
(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||7.8 in (200 mm) (h)
7.8 in (200 mm) (w)
1.1 in (28 mm) (d)
|3.9 in (99 mm) (h)
3.9 in (99 mm) (w)
0.9 in (23 mm) (d)
|Weight||2.4 lb (1.1 kg)||0.6 lb (0.27 kg)|
|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 (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 7.3 (based on iOS 8.4)|
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.
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. 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. 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.
Installing updates for the Apple TV system software typically removes software hacks, but major Apple TV hacks are updated regularly.
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.
Popular modifications include replacing/complementing Apple TV's Front Row interface with alternative media center software, including Plex, XBMC Media Center, and Boxee. 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.
Users have also upgraded the first generation's internal hard drive.
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 distribution. The distribution offers PVR support and AirPlay and still receives updates to this day.
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 or PwnageTool 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?]
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.
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. 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.
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, full Internet radio support, and games.
The Movies search box only searches the iTunes Store, not local hard drives and networks.
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. Movies purchased on Apple TV can be moved to a video-enabled iPod or iPhone via iTunes.
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.
Photos were required to be synced to the device until an iTunes update enabled streaming.
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, 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. QuickTime and Apple TV did not ship with an AC-3 codec, and iTunes Store content only supported 4.0 surround sound. 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.
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. Apple released movie wish lists, video playlists, and "watched" flags in Apple TV software versions 2.1 through 2.4.
The original Apple TV used the older QuickTime 7 engine, so it cannot play videos which use H.264 Sample Aspect Ratio (which requires QuickTime X). The second generation of Apple TV supports H.264.
Within the first week of presales in January 2007, Apple TV was the top pre-selling item at the Apple Store. 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. Analysts began calling it a "DVD killer" that could enable multiple services. Analysts also predicted that Apple could sell up to 1.5 million units in the first year. Besides the Apple Store, Best Buy was one of the first retailers to carry the device; Target and Costco 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. 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", 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.
In the fourth quarter of 2008, sales were triple that of the fourth quarter of 2007.
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. 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.
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. In the second fiscal quarter of 2011, it had topped 2 million in total sales, with 820,000 sold in that quarter alone.
On January 24, 2012, Apple announced they had sold 1.4 million units in the first fiscal quarter of 2012, and 2.8 million units in all of fiscal year 2011. (4.2 million units through January 1, 2012).
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).
These reports lead to a cumulative volume of the 3rd generation device of 6 million units, as of January 1, 2013.
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. 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. 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 and it could void the warranty.
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