Happy End of the World Day! If you're reading this, the predicted Mayan apocalypse did not occur and you can continue enjoying the holiday festivities with one less thing to worry about. However, your intrepid MacLife.com news recap reporter will be taking a much-needed hiatus over the next two weeks, so enjoy this final day of coverage before our return on January 7, 2013 -- and fear not, your diligent editors will have plenty of other fine content rolling out during the break to pass the time with. Happy holidaze, folks!
Apple may be winding down their calendar year, but Cupertino continues to roll out retail stores across the planet, with new locations opening in Hong Kong and several other international cities this weekend. Sure, your weekend plans are probably less ambitious than that, but why not take a gander at a few other things happening in the tech world before you call it a week?
We love our second-generation Apple TV (that's the black one), but mostly because we've hacked it with aTV Flash to add Plex, the media server client software that pretty much smokes Apple's own. But with the aTV Flash 1.7 update this week, Plex is gone, and now we're sad.
That’s plenty of bang for the buck, but exactly how much depends on how heavily you’re invested in Apple’s ecosystem. Except for Amazon Instant, many top Roku channels are available as iOS apps, and with an iOS device and Apple TV, you can play games that are just a little cooler than Video Poker (sorry, Video Poker developers) on your TV. But if you have an older television without an HDMI port, or if you’re allergic to the iTunes Store, Roku is worth a look.
Long referred to as a hobby during Apple keynotes, Apple TV has evolved into one of the star peripherals of the iOS ecosystem. And no wonder--this slim 4-inch box turns your humble HDTV into a networked entertainment powerhouse. Apple TV’s HDMI and optical audio ports connect to your home theater, and it connects to your network via 802.11n Wi-Fi or 100Base-T Ethernet. Once you’re plugged in, you can buy or rent movies at up to 1080p, or buy TV shows at the same resolution, from iTunes.
Until Apple releases its secret-but-we-all-know-it's-coming, Siri-powered, high-definition television set that will change the face of the industry forever (okay, so we're hoping this is what's coming), we'll have to settle for Cupertino's "hobby" if we want to stream our movies and photos to a screen larger than 27-inches. But while Apple TV has made great strides since it launched alongside the iPhone, it still has a long way to go if it wants to become a major player in the booming set-top box market.
It's not often that Apple can learn from its competitors, but sometimes it seems that Apple is purposefully holding back Apple TV features for something bigger and better. If you're not totally tied down to the iTunes ecosystem, there are worthy third-party alternatives. Here's a few that we've reviewed that are highly worth it in our book.
Apple might insist on calling it a hobby, but the new Apple TV's near-instantaneous shipping delays suggest that the market for streaming set-top boxes is bigger than Tim Cook wants us to believe. It's so big, in fact, that there's a quiet war brewing between top manufacturers, with each of them offering a similarly sized box that effortlessly streams all of your music, movies, and photos right to your television.
It’s been one of those busy days for tech enthusiasts: Rather than dreaming about the weekend ahead, we’ve had product launches all over the place in the mad pre-Christmas holiday rush before things start to shut down next week. If you’ve already played around with your Facebook Timeline update or nabbed that sweet new Roku iOS app and are waiting for your Apple TV to update, take a breather and see what’s new for this Thursday, December 15, 2011.
Can you feel the excitement in the air? iOS 5 and iCloud will arrive on Wednesday, and the telltale signs include a new iTunes 10.5 pushed out today. But that’s not all that’s making news this week -- here’s a look at the latest stuff we’ve been tracking for this fine Tuesday, October 11, 2011.
Tech fans will have plenty to be thankful for come Turkey Day next week -- The Beatles are finally on iTunes, Google Voice is on the iPhone, Twitter has push notifications for iOS and Hulu Plus is finally out of preview mode, officially landing on Roku boxes everywhere.