Apple TV gains apps from Vevo, Weather Channel, Disney and Smithsonian, we go hands-on

Apple TV (Vevo channel)

Just as we’ve been expecting, Apple has updated its $99 Apple TV set-top box with 24/7 music video streaming by way of Vevo TV. But that’s not all, Apple has surprised us all by adding support for several other premium content sources. In addition to Vevo, the update has brought out four additional apps: Weather Channel, Disney Channel and Disney XD, as well as Smithsonian Channel, co-owned by CBS and the Smithsonian Institution.

What’s really interesting is that Weather Channel seems to be the real app rather than just a simple streaming channel, although both Smithsonian Channel and Weather Channel offer on-demand clips. Go past the fold for the full reveal and Jeff’s video hands-on.

UPDATE: people who use a DNS trick called PlexConnect to stream media to their non-jailbroken Apple TV through the Trailers app should be aware that this morning’s update appears to have broken the hack. More on that here

No software update is required, the new apps will automagically appear on your Home screen the next time you turn on your Apple TV.

The Weather Channel puts the current conditions and your weather forecasts right on your big screen TV, allowing you to browse on-demand Weather Channel shows, featured stories and more.

Peter Kafka of AllThingsD has been told that “in some cases – most likely a storm with national impact or interest – the Weather Channel app will provide a live feed of the pay channel as well”, which is a nice touch indeed.

As per usual, content restrictions apply so availability of these new “channels” depends on your region.

Here’s Jeff’s video walkthrough.

Some apps require a subscription.

For example, Disney Channel and Disney XD live-streaming apps require a pay TV subscription with cable and satellite providers who have distribution agreements in place with Disney.

These include AT&T U-verse, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Midcontinent Communications, Optimum and Verizon FiOS. For the time being, Time Warner Cable, Dish or DirecTV subscribers are left out in the cold.

As for Vevo TV, the app does not work in all regions. According to early impressions on Twitter, some people are experiencing buffering issues with Vevo TV streaming and low-resolution content, though this is probably due to bandwidth issues.

Vevo in a media release this morning noted that its Apple TV app brings access to its library of 75,000 music videos, with continual suggestions and “playing videos that personalize your viewing experience”.

Here’s the blurb:

Created in partnership with our friends at Apple, VEVO on Apple TV brings VEVO’s library of 75,000 HD music videos, exclusive original programming and live concert performances to Apple TV viewers

Vevo viewers are able to quickly browse videos by featured artists including all of the latest premieres. Vevo includes multiple modes of discovery – you can watch on-demand videos from any genre or simply select any video that piques your interest.

If you have something particular in mind, perform a search and we will surface what you’re looking for right at your fingertips.

Vevo on Apple TV is initially available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands and Poland. Users in other regions could point their Apple TV Wi-Fi settings to an IP masking service such as HideMyAss to access Vevo and other region-restricted apps.

Apple TV (Vevo app)

The Vevo channel features all the newest hits from Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus to videos from years past, spanning the entire spectrum of musical tastes. The Vevo app also includes Vevo’s original programming such as Lyric Lines and The Comment Show, fashion series Stylized and behind the scenes Tour Exposed.

By the way, even the press release itself is region-dependant and can’t be viewed if accessed from unsupported countries – go figure.

The new content sources arrive hot on the heels of June’s update which enabled HBO GO and WatchESPN subscription-based streaming, in addition to free of charge content from Sky News and Asian drama streaming service Crunchyroll and Qello.

Previous paid and free Apple TV programming partners include Hulu Plus, Netflix, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr and The Wall Street Journal.

itunes festival atv

Just earlier this month, Apple updated the hockey puck with live streaming channel for the upcoming iTunes Festival. The company’s recent strides shouldn’t come as a surprise.

According to one survey, Apple TV owners are twice as likely to cut the cord than people who don’t own networked TV or streaming media devices. A Frost & Sullivan Consumer Video Devices Market report stated that Apple’s device comprises more than 50 percent of all streaming set-top box sales (Roku disagrees).

Apple CEO Tim Cook during May’s D11 interview said Apple sold over thirteen million Apple TV units to date, half of which came in the last year. And rumors continue to fly that the company is working on taking the set-top box, and its TV interests, to the next level.

Some “hobby”, indeed.

To learn more about this update, visit Apple’s just-refreshed ‘What’s on Apple TV’ web page, which also mentions that iTunes Radio for the Apple TV is launching “soon”.