Media

Apple releases new Apple TV with 1080p playback and updated UI

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Apple unveiled a new version of its Apple TV set-top box today at its press conference in San Francisco .

The new version of the Apple TV will allow owners to play videos in 1080p high-definition quality. The device will also sport a new user interface that more closely resembles its iOS mobile operating system. As you can see from the photo above, the UI groups specific types of media together (Movies, TV shows, Music) in a new navigation bar that sits just below the sliding deck of available content. The bar also contains a button for computers, which presumably will allow you to access content on other computers in your immediate area, and a settings button. All the Apple TV applications appear just below that.

For now it doesn’t look like Apple is going to give us a full app store, meaning we’re still at the company’s whim in terms of which third-party companies and services will get integrated with the device.

The new interface will give people access to TV shows the day after they air and will also have the recommendation engine Genius functionality built into it. Also worth noting is that Apple is adding iCloud functionality to the Apple TV for movies, much like it has done with other devices for iTunes purchases.

The last update to the Apple TV happened in September 2010 along with the original iPad, so a new version was more than overdue. We also expected a new version since 98 percent of retailers no longer had the old Apple TV model in stock, as VentureBeat reported Tuesday. Despite taking a third of the market for all streaming media boxes, Apple has insisted in the past that the device is little more than a hobby. But that hasn’t stopped the company from slowly updating it with better specs and software. Apple TV currently lets owners stream content from their iTunes libraries and videos from YouTube, Netflix, and Vimeo directly to a home TV.

Pairing the new Apple TV and iPad 3 announcements together makes a lot of sense, since both are already nicely matched. Apple’s AirPlay features let you stream music, photos, or video content from your iPad to an Apple TV, or see a mirror image of what’s on your tablet on the big screen.

The new Apple TV will be available next week, but you can begin pre-ordering the device today at the same $99 price.

Check out some additional photos of the Apple TV’s new OS embedded below:

Photos via Heather Kelly

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