Apple rolled out an unexpected update this week that dramatically increases the available content for the second generation [amazon_link id=”B001FA1NK0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Apple TV[/amazon_link]. Since its introduction last year, one of the biggest complaints about the device was that you couldn’t buy TV shows and movies from the iTunes store—you could only rent them. That doesn’t seem like such a big deal until you realize how little television content (selected shows from ABC, Fox, and a handful of other networks) could be rented. Or until you remember that you could buy movies and shows on the first generation Apple TV.
With this latest update, you can now purchase TV shows from the vast collection of TV content providers in the iTunes store. Unlike the first generation device, however, the new Apple TV doesn’t download your purchased shows. Instead, it relies on cloud services to stream the shows on demand. Additionally, any TV shows you’ve previously purchased in the iTunes Store can also be played on demand, and shows you buy on the Apple TV are made available to all your other devices through iTunes’ new purchase history feature. These new features don’t apply to movies, but you can still rent movies on the Apple TV just as you could before. There’s speculation that Apple could be testing the viability of its iCloud syncing infrastructure before adding movies into the mix.
Apple also added Vimeo to the growing list of Internet video services supported on the Apple TV. If you’re not familiar with Vimeo, it’s a video sharing service with a more professional slant than YouTube.
Apple TV may just be a hobby for Jobs, but at $99, this is great device for home video enthusiasts who have invested in the iTunes ecosystem.
Screen shots of the new features