Apple TV Adds YouTube and Security

Apple has released version 1.1 of the software for Apple TV. The software includes a security update and support for YouTube videos. I covered my impressions of Apple TV in this post.

The software update is only available through Apple TV’s software update feature. Apple TV checks for updates on a weekly basis so Apple TV’s should all be updated within a week. You can also trigger an immediate update by selecting Settings -> Update Software in Apple TV. The update will restart Apple TV.

YouTube is encoding the videos using the H.264 codec. Videos will be added through the summer with the full catalog expected to be available in the fall. The videos will also be available for the iPhone.

Apple TV allows you to sign onto your YouTube account (if you have one) but like the website, an account isn’t needed. Signing on is a bit tough since you have to use the on-screen keyboard in the Apple remote. Hold down the direction arrow to slide across the keyboard if your password is spread around the keyboard like mine was.

YouTube on Apple TV does include a search feature, but since it uses the on-screen keyboard I expected using search would get tiresome very quickly if I did a lot of searching. But like Apple’s Spotlight search results are displayed as you type. So when I wanted “Ask a Ninja” I had a list of Ask A Ninja videos after typing just the word “Ask”.

I find it easier to just browse the videos on Apple TV then on the website but I don’t frequently browse the YouTube website. The Apple TV YouTube menu gives you the following menu items:

  • Features
  • Most Viewed
  • Most Recent
  • Top Rated
  • Favorites
  • History
  • Search
  • Log in (or Log out)

Te videos themselves are listed in a scrolling list on the right half of the screen. For each video the name, publisher(poster), running time, number of views and number of stars are clearly listed. When a video is selected the left half of the screen has the preview picture, name, number of stars, the text description along with the publisher, date added, category, tags and number of views.

The videos stream from the Internet. I have a relatively slow DSL connection and didn’t encounter many problems streaming. In most cases the videos start playing soon after being selected. In a few cases the video seemed to stream half the video before it started playing. This seemed to be unique to the video. Replaying the video later didn’t have the same problem. The videos aren’t cached on the Apple TV so that’s not what avoided the problem the second time.

The video quality was better than I expected. I compared a couple videos over the web and on Apple TV and the Apple TV viewing experience was better. As I mentioned my original Apple TV post I may benefit from having a standard tube TV. The videos may look worse on high-def in the same way that going to full screen mode on the web is pretty bad.

Some of the videos clearly have a “YouTube” look to them on Apple TV. The video quality is lower than other videos. But even in these cases the Apple TV video looked better than the web video.

I was wondering how the low resolution YouTube videos would translate to Apple TV and didn’t expect much. The video quality doesn’t suddenly improve so much that YouTube will be transformed into a professional video platform but if the YouTube video quality doesn’t bother you on the web then you won’t mind the quality on Apple TV.

You do lose the ability to comment on videos so if your into that feature then Apple TV isn’t for you. You can rate videos and add them to your favorites. Favorites and history from Apple TV will show on the web and visa-versa (if you’re logged on). You can’t subscribe to channels through Apple TV.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the way YouTube was implemented on AppleTV. It’s certainly easier for a group of people to watch them on the TV than crowded around the small player on a PC.