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Apple TV just keeps getting better. On Monday we reported that iTunes Radio and a new "conference room" display had hit the beta for the little black box, but Apple today announced that the existing version now supports popular third party apps such as HBO GO, WatchESPN, along with a couple of other content generators.
Also included in the update are apps or the UK's Sky News, anime fan site Crunchyroll, and Quello, which focuses on delivering concert footage and documentaries about bands and musicians. Apple also used the release to announce some updated statistics regarding video purchase on iTunes, specifically that iTunes users have bought in excess of a billion TV episodes and 380 million movies. According to Apple, users download over 350,000 movies and 800,000 TV episodes per day.
But for the end user of Apple TV, the biggest news is likely the inclusion of HBO Go. Users have been clamoring for it almost since it was announced, and HBO itself fought hard to get on Apple's diminutive device. Eric Kessler, president and COO of HBO, said as much back in February to AllThingsD: "We will get on Apple TV, as we’ve said all along."
Unfortunately, both HBO Go and WatchESPN both require cable subscriptions to use them, which (as with similar announcement for the Xbox 360 and PS3 gaming systems) renders the announcement sort of bittersweet. This, indeed, marks the first time that Apple's allowed services on the device that need tethering to an outside service.
Also noticeably absent from the significant update was Amazon's Instant Video app, which claims several exclusive streaming rights for favorites like Downton Abbey and Justified.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.