Apple TV gets Shared Photo Streams, new screen savers, iTunes account switching and more

By , Sep 24, 2012

Apple today pushed out an update for its Apple TV set-top box. The update is focused on iOS 5.1 build 10A406e and a slew of enhancements and a few new features. Among the things we like in the new Apple TV software (in addition to the obligatory stability and performance fixes) is the ability to easily save multiple iTunes accounts and switch between them, support for Shared Photo Streams and AirPlay broadcasting from Apple TV to other devices…

Another nice-to-have that I think is gonna be popular: you can now reorder icons by holding down the Select button on your remote (was in betas), though this works only on page 2.

The enhanced AirPlay functionality sounds pretty intriguing as well in that you can now beam audio from one Apple TV box to another or even other AirPlay-enabled gear, like speakers.

Here, your release notes:

Shared Photo Streams – Accept invitations for Shared Photo Streams, browse photos and comments, and receive notifications of new content.
AirPlay – Send audio content from Apple TV to AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices (including AirPort Express and other Apple TVs). Also includes the ability to require an onscreen code to use AirPlay with your Apple TV.
iTunes account switching – Save multiple iTunes accounts and switch quickly between them.
Trailers – Search movie trailers. In the United States, see show times for local theaters.
Screen savers – New Cascade, Shrinking Tiles, and Sliding Panels screen savers.
Main menu – Reorder icons on the second page by holding down the select button on the remote.
Subtitles – SDH support for the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as improvements to viewing and selecting subtitles.
Network configuration – Support for setting up advanced network options using configuration profiles. See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5437 for more information.
Stability and performance – Includes general performance and stability improvements.

This new Apple TV software supports the second (720p) and third-generation (1080p) Apple TV hardware.

Your device should put up a prompt when an update is available, but you can also do so manually by hitting Software Update in Settings > General > Update, or by get the firmware directly from our Downloads section.

If you spot anything else worth sharing, hit us in comments.

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  • Zorvage

    Does this mean I can stream .srt subtitles to my Apple TV with my iPhone? I have an app that supports .srt with my videos but when I stream it to my apple TV only the video appears, not the subtitles.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joselguajardo Jose L. Guajardo

      what is the name of your app?

      • Zorvage

        iMedia player and many other similar apps have this support. It just does not show up when streaming :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/kiu.ajn Bob Russell

    Recently with no fanfare, Apple added the ability to select favorite Radio stations on the AppleTV. (Hold down the Select button for a few seconds after the station is chosen.) Favorites list and the station currently playing are shown at the top of the listings.

  • http://unexpectedcontractor.blogspot.ca/ Unexpected Contractor

    These changes are great, but when is the update to fix the ugly? Awesome features on this device, but brutal interface.

    • t_linn

      Couldn’t agree more. Drives me crazy to have all this garbage on my screen that I will NEVER use.

    • http://www.facebook.com/patrick.fern Patrick Fern

      I’m with you on this. Ditch the ugly colored icons, and provide the option to hide anything I don’t subscribe to. If I don’t want the MLB icon, then let me hide it. A grid view of my media would be nice, under the Computers section. Scrolling through long lists of movies, music, TV Shows is tedious. An interface like what is shown in the Store would be great.

    • http://www.thediceguys.com Dean Lewis

      I don’t agree with this. After using a Roku HD for a couple of years, AppleTV’s interface is a vast improvement. There are definitely places it could be streamlined (I’m interested in the improvements in getting to subtitles and if it will work across apps like Netflix). However, having an interface with tiled icons instead of one big long row of icons that scroll very slowly is a major improvement. Readability is much better, too.

  • Patrick Brusell

    How about JB for the new update? Any info?

  • Michael

    You can hide icons now. Settings–>General–Parental controls. You used to be able to do this, but you had to enable parental controls (now you don’t), and it was only for a limited number of apps. That’s cool. I don’t use the sports features, so I hid them.

    • Elliot Bridgewater

      Ah, well spotted! Thanks.

  • Peter

    Does anyone know if you can select .srt files subtitles vs. embedded

  • http://www.facebook.com/LethoeshatedadedicatedfatherGreen Keith Green

    They shuda left it where u scroll from rt to left and vice versa.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yasser-Kaskas/515387178 Yasser Kaskas

    WIll the advanced Network Configuration allow me to run a VPN??

  • notewar

    Does anyone know how to fix black screen video playback problem when streaming from an iPhone (4S) to Apple TV? Apparently only audio is being streamed but no vdo images which drive me crazy as im trying to watch my .mkv .avi file from AVPLAYER.

  • Craig

    What the article doesn’t mention is the ATV update doesn’t offer Airplay audio out for movies to Aiplay enabled speakers, only music. What a waste of time!