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Apple TV Music

Oddly, the primary Music app on the Apple TV homescreen simply links to your iTunes Match account. This is a paid for service (£21.99 per annum) that scans your local music collection and checks it off against the vast iTunes library in the cloud. If Apple has the track/album in its database, you can then access that music from any iCloud compatible device. So if you've an obscure music collection that iTunes doesn't recognise, those tracks won't be available in iTunes Match. It's a useful service certainly but it has its limitations and moreover it seems odd that you can't simply access the music you've already bought in iTunes, leaving the Match service as an optional extra.

If you've a computer on your network with an iTunes library, however, you can access this directly using the Home Sharing feature, available through the 'Computers' tab. This is really easy to use and works superbly, but it does require the computer to be on whenever you want to listen to your music. INn contrast, with some media players you can simply access your music stored on a network drive (NAS). And while you can have your iTunes library stored on a NAS, you still need iTunes running (which NAS devices can't run) to actually access it using the Apple TV.

Apple TV Music

Similarly, it's worth pointing out again that you can't just plug in your own media by way of a hard drive or USB stick – playing "your mate's new track that he just brought over" will require transfer to some sort of Apple device first.

Apple TV Airplay

One of the neatest things about Apple TV, though, is AirPlay. This Wi-Fi service allows you to really easily link your iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, MacBooks and desktop Macs with the Apple TV. Just sign in to the same AppleID on each device and the AirPlay option should be available straight away in iTunes on Macs and the photo viewer, video viewer and Music apps on iOS devices.

Apple TV Music Airplay

You can use it to show your pictures and videos on the big screen or play back your music through your AV sound system. The interface is really easy to use and it's incredibly quick too.

Apple TV Airplay Video

Alternative devices can do something similar if they and your TV or set-top box are DLNA compatible - or some mobile devices even have HDMI outputs so you can just plug them straight into your TV - but neither solution is either as easy or versatile (DLNA isn't commonly available on laptops for instance). There really is something grin-inducingly fun about simply tapping a button and having the content on your phone appear on your big screen.

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March 8, 2012, 2:44 pm

"Using either a mobile iOS device or a Mac PC you can very easily stream your videos, or even play games."

Unless you know differently, I don't believe you can stream from a Mac using OS X Lion - this is a feature coming in Mountain Lion. Also, given how their advertising strives to separate "I'm a Mac" from "I'm a PC", not sure how Apple would like your reference to a "Mac PC"! How about "Mac laptop or desktop"


March 8, 2012, 2:45 pm

Also, typo: "...if you're happy to stick to the Apple way, **it'll should** do you proud"


March 8, 2012, 3:19 pm

Nope, you're right. Have made it clearer.


March 8, 2012, 3:19 pm

Cheers, fixed.


March 8, 2012, 4:35 pm

Pity Sky decided to disable airplay on their Sky Go app.
It is the only app I have that doesn't support Airplay or HDMI out. :-(


March 8, 2012, 6:49 pm

I'm guessing DRM is in place for iTunes video content over AirPlay and HDMI (using HDCP), but perhaps there isn't a mechanism for the Sky Go app to use that.


March 8, 2012, 7:53 pm

It's tempting, especially with the 1080P support. What really attracts me is the chance to buy individual TV shows I've missed. At the moment my only options are to torrent the series I've missed or get them on Blu-ray, with myself obviously opting for the latter.

Is it worth £99 just for the ability to catch up with the Doctor Who (& and other TV series) episodes I missed last season? Plus the selection of movies on demand too. Hmm.


March 8, 2012, 8:27 pm

Netflix account any good for you?


March 8, 2012, 10:08 pm

Yes, thanks for that, that's another option. I'm just unsure how big Netflix's collection is, as they don't let you see their library until you sign up with them (although I could take advantage of the month's trial).

That leaves me with getting a device to watch Netflix on as my current media player and TV don't support it. In that case, the new Apple TV still looks attractive as it supports Netflix, and I can access its library if Netflix doesn't have the TV shows I want available.

A Scotland

March 8, 2012, 11:15 pm

Netflix has a woeful collection of mostly dated stuff. You get what you pay for though and it is very cheap. I think you pay about the same for one new movie on Apple TV as you would for a month's unlimited access to the Netflix catalogue.

Airplay mirroring aside, I am still not sure the Apple TV is going to be relevant for anybody with an console or a smart TV that have been providing these services for some time now.


March 8, 2012, 11:36 pm

It's an interesting point raised. Putting discs and dodgy downloads aside, for all the ease of use AppleTV provides, are people already too used to cheaper services available on many more devices?


March 9, 2012, 12:14 am

>> for all the ease of use AppleTV provides, are people already too used to cheaper services

Like you say putting illegal downloads aside, as of course you can still stream your illegal downloads to an ATV, what services are cheaper?
eg, I've got an XBox 360 & the original ATV, and from my experience they appear to be the same price. And I would assume the same for PS3.

I think if you already have a substantial collection of Music/Videos on an iTunes account I think it's a no-brainer, I assume this is Apples main audience anyway.


March 9, 2012, 12:35 am

@Ed - Yes, that is quite interesting - given the choice would you choose an inferior though cheaper service vs Apple's walled garden and ease of use. Also, there's the whole recurring monthly fee (Netflix) vs the pay-as-you-go (of iTunes) debate.

What I'm annoyed at is there's no iTunes/Amazon MP3 equivalent for movies and TV shows. Surely, there's demand for somewhere you could buy movies & individual episodes of shows, that was possibly DRM free, and had the range and depth of the iTunes music store except for movies/TV Shows. Netflix could be that place if it was as comprehensive as its American counterpart. It's why I'm considering the Apple TV despite its limitations.


March 9, 2012, 3:54 am

@Pbryanw - Definitely give the free month trial try with Netflix. Whilst I agree with A Scotland's sentiment (the collection is limited, especially newish films), I find that it's coverage of TV shows is excellent. Probably because I haven't owned a TV for years.

I've had a great time watching series like Weeds, Misfits, The 4400 and a load of films I missed watching years ago - and it's all so cheap at a six quid a month, with true multi-platform support and in HD. I really find it a superb service. I have it running on my TouchPad (CM9), Android phones, iPod touch, PC, Laptops, media name it.

Maybe a Western Digital TV Live Streaming Media Player would be better for your needs? Cheaper than the Apple TV, plays more formats and supports BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Just a thought.


March 9, 2012, 9:41 pm

Thanks for the post, unfortunately I already have a media player (which just plays movies from my Hard-Drive and offers few extra features) so I'm still looking for that magic box that'll have VoD from all the major TV channels and Movies and TV shows on demand. I did previously have the original WDTV Live but that kept on crashing on me - from the sounds of it, the new version is much improved and could be a possible upgrade in the future.

I might also wait for YouView, if that ever gets released, and see how the initial reviews for that are. It sounds like it could possibly be the magic box I'm waiting for, providing it turns out ok after its long gestation.

And if Netflix becomes available on my TV, I'll give the free trial a go (there's nothing to lose is there). I've heard its TV show collection is its strongest feature (as you pointed out). Anyway, plenty to think about...

March 22, 2012, 5:21 pm

"Android/Linux/Symbian/Windows Phone devices need not apply."

You can transmit video, photos and music from Android devices using DoubleTwist AirSync

Linux AirPlay support also exists, for example in Totem Media Player.

Not sure about the other two.


March 22, 2012, 7:31 pm

Ah, I must admit that service had passed me by. I'll test it tonight and update the review.


March 22, 2012, 9:12 pm

I've got a 1st Gen AppleTV, love it. Well, I love Plex on it...

But, more importantly, good choice - Gojira are amazing :D


March 22, 2012, 10:19 pm

As a media streamer - this is pure Apple:

Stylish, expensive, doesn't do much.

However, being Apple, whatever limited functions it does do, it does brilliantly.

As a media streamer, there are far better products out there for less money. However, if you have an iphone or ipad, you need to get one of these - becuase or AirPlay. This is one killer feature.

If you already have the older version, don't bother upgrading - the only difference is the 720p and 1080p. To be honest, most TVs have decent upscaling so the difference is not noticeable.


March 23, 2012, 5:48 pm

\m/ Gojira - Yama's Messengers \m/

Great track.

Miyako O'Conner

December 13, 2014, 4:49 am

Great article Edward. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Apple TV by using UnoTelly or similar tools.

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