Apple TV and iTunes update news for cord-cutters

Apple's made some small improvements in its latest Apple TV and iTunes updates for Internet video watchers.

Setting aside the fantasies of Apple rolling out an Apple TV with a 40-inch screen, Apple has been making some small, but significant, improvements in the mark 2 and 3 Apple TVs (ATV) with its latest 5.1.1 firmware update, and with the iTunes 11 release. 

The good news is that with the recently released Apple TV 5.1 firmware upgrade you're able to use AirPlay to send audio content to AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices and use your ATV with multiple iTunes accounts. With the even newer 5.1.1 you get support for the Up Next option, which gives you greater control over your musical selections. The bad news? Installing either or both is a pain in the rump.

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It turns out that for reasons beyond my understanding, ATVs do a lousy job of updating if you've connected them to your network with Ethernet. You'd think it would be easier, but nope, it's not. The "solution" is to disconnect your cable and connect to your Wi-Fi network. That should be all there is to it.

Notice I say "should be." Some people seem to have bricked their ATVs with incomplete updates. If that happened to you, you can probably still save your ATV.

To recover your bricked ATV, disconnect its HDMI and power cords. Then, connect the misbehaving ATV to your computer with a micro-USB cable and power it up. Next, open iTunes and you should see the Apple TV pop up in the devices list. Select it and then you choose the Restore option. After the ATV is restored try to update it again using Wi-Fi. With any luck, all will now go well.

All this really makes me wonder why Apple seems to have such trouble with networking 101 in its devices. It's not just the ATVs. The iOS 6.x upgrade broke Wi-Fi on many iPhones and other iDevices and it still hasn't been fixed. What's going on with Apple's networking anyway?

Apple has also released iTunes 11. Not everyone likes the new iTunes, which has a lot of new eye-candy but few substantial improvements. One nice, but not great, change is that you can now stream or download any videos you bought from the iTunes store to your devices from iCloud

That's great as far as it goes, but what you can't do is upload or "match" movies or TV shows the way you can music with iTunes Match. If you, like me, have put together a huge home TV and movie collection on your server, you'll still need to look for other ways to watch your videos away from home.

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