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Apple TV gains iTunes Radio support, new features in v5.4 beta

updated 10:34 pm EDT, Mon June 17, 2013

Conference Room shows off increasing use of Apple TV for business

Though not explicitly mentioned during the Worldwide Developer's Conference keynote, the Apple TV will also be receiving an update to its differently-numbered iOS software in the near future -- one that supports iTunes Radio and offers a few minor new features. The first beta, which is referred to as iOS 5.4 (notably skipping 5.3 entirely), doesn't yet make any severe design changes but does add support for the forthcoming iTunes Radio, allowing developers a chance to test the service.

It is not yet clear if Apple will update the Apple TV software to reflect the style of iOS 7 in the near future, but in the current beta both the look and functionality are largely the same, with just a handfull of new features, all of which would be considered fairly minor. Users will also see that iTunes in the Cloud is supported alongside iTunes Match, the latter being a paid service that creates a large "virtual storage locker" for iTunes music, centralizing its accessibility and thus allowing all devices associated with an iTunes account to have access to it at all times, provided there is some form of Internet connection.

Interestingly, Apple has not yet merged the "Radio" feature on Apple TV with the new "iTunes Radio" function, though that is expected to happen at some point. The Radio function is largely copied from the similar Radio feature on iTunes and offers hundreds of free broadcast and Internet radio stations for free listening. Home Sharing has improved in the new beta as well, becoming more reliable for in-network iTunes sharing -- and users can finally customize subtitle styles.

Another minor change is a renaming of the sometimes-confusing "Photo Stream" to "iCloud photos," which simply shows a gallery of any photos stored in iCloud. User can have up to 1,000 of their most recent or deliberately-added photos at any one time on Photo Stream. The new "Conference Room" mode should appeal to business users -- it allows users to set a custom background with an overlay of instructions on how to connect their own devices to the network. Users can also specify if they want to prefer iCloud playback of stored presentations, videos, photos and music over locally-stored material -- a great option of the local assets aren't available, say on a business trip to another office.

This is just the first beta of iOS for Apple TV 5.4, so testers and developers can expect further changes and refinements to occur in future betas. The update is likely to be issued sometime just before or at the same time as the upgrade to iOS 7 for other Apple mobile devices -- currently said to be happening this fall.

by MacNN Staff



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