Apple TV Gets 3.0 Software Update With iTunes Extras/iTunes LP Support

The Apple TV. Remember that? Yeah, that's Apple's little hobby device, or so it said once upon a time. And it's treating it exactly like a hobby, not updating it but once every blue moon. Thankfully for those who actually own one, the company today released the first major software update for it in what feels like forever, but it's a big update. In fact, it's taking things to 3.0, and whenever Apple jumps all the way to a new digit on the left side of the decimal, it's definitely worth paying attention to.

The new 3.0 software brings along a redesigned main menu, a large selection of on-demand HD movie rentals/TV shows and newfound support for iTunes Extras and iTunes LP. There's also support for Genius Mixes and and Internet radio streaming. As usual, this update is free of charge for existing Apple TV owners, while those looking to buy in can pick up a box with a 160GB HDD for $229.

Apple also upgraded its iTunes software for Mac/PC to 9.0.2 in order to add support for Apple TV 3.0, so now your computer and Apple TV will continue to work seamlessly together. Still, with services like Vudu and Netflix out there, we have to wonder if the demand for the Apple TV is on the decline. The device hasn't been in the spotlight for a long, long time, and we don't really see it jumping back in there without some sort of killer app. Who knows--maybe this thing was just destined to remain a hobby.

“The new software for Apple TV features a simpler and faster interface that gives you instant access to your favorite content,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services. “HD movies and HD TV shows from iTunes have been a huge hit with Apple TV customers, and with Apple TV 3.0 they get great new features including iTunes Extras, Genius Mixes and Internet radio.”

The redesigned main menu on Apple TV gives you instant access to your favorite content. Recently rented or purchased movies, as well as other content including TV shows, music, podcasts, photos and YouTube, are accessible directly from the new main menu. The new software also allows Apple TV users to enjoy stunning fullscreen iTunes Extras and iTunes LP, including great new movie titles such as “Star Trek” or classics like “The Wizard of Oz” and albums such as Taylor Swift’s “Fearless (Platinum Edition)” and Jack Johnson’s “En Concert.” iTunes Extras gives movie fans great additional content such as deleted scenes, interviews and interactive galleries. iTunes LP is the next evolution of the music album, delivering a rich, immersive experience for select albums on the iTunes Store by combining beautiful design with expanded visual features like live performance videos, lyrics, artwork, liner notes, interviews, photos, album credits and more.

Now Apple TV users can enjoy Genius Mixes through their home theater system and listen to up to 12 endless mixes of songs that go great together, automatically generated from their iTunes library. Customers can also enjoy Internet radio, allowing them to browse and listen to thousands of Internet radio stations, as well as tag favorite stations to listen to later. Apple TV’s support of HD photos is enhanced with iPhoto Events, which simplifies finding your favorite photos on Apple TV, as well as iPhoto® Faces, which gives access to photos organized by people identified in iPhoto.

Apple TV users have direct access to a catalog of over 8,000 Hollywood films on iTunes including over 2,000 in stunning HD video available for rent or purchase. Users can also choose from a selection of 11 million songs, 10,000 music videos and over 50,000 TV episodes to purchase directly from their Apple TV or browse and enjoy the iTunes Store podcast directory of over 175,000 free video and audio podcasts. Purchases downloaded to Apple TV are automatically synced back to iTunes on the user’s computer for enjoyment on their Mac® or PC or all current generation iPods or iPhones.* iPod touch® or iPhone® users can download the free Remote app from the App Store to control their Apple TV with a simple tap or flick of the finger.