Old Apple TV won't be getting new Apple TV features

Ars Technica has confirmed that the new Apple TV software and features won't be coming to the old Apple TV.

We confirmed with an Apple spokesperson that the maximum HD resolution of the Apple TV is 720p, consistent with recent rumors. Additionally, there will be no software update to bring the new features to older Apple TVs. Older Apple TVs will continue to work as they have been working up to this point, and they will continue to be able to purchase movies and TV shows even though the new Apple TV is rental-only.

Though it stands to reason, given that the old Apple TV runs a variation of OS X (Tiger?) on Intel and the new one runs a variation of iOS (4.x?) on Apple A4, and Apple probably doesn't want to devote any resources to making a distinct update to a now dead system, those expecting TV rentals and Netflix support will no doubt be unhappy.

However, those who preferred to be able to sync and buy their media on-device won't be shedding any tears, or trying to avoid any updates that take those features away.

Which side are you on? And does this change anyone's mind about updating?


Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Of course not they need to sell new units.
  • im so shocked apple would ever do this. Jaw dropped
  • I have the old apple tv and I ordered the new one yesterday. I'm going to keep both hooked up to my tv. The old one will hold my purchased movies, and the new one will pretty much just be for Netflix. For $100 I figured what the hell
  • ... it would have been nice to at a minimum have had TV rentals and Netflix as an update. When all is said and done, first adopters partly paid for the development of the new generation Apple TV.
  • Surprise, surprise. Oh Apple you should learn not to screw your customers until after they pay the bill.
  • Early adopters get stabbed in the back? Why am I not surprised?
  • Jailbreak your Apple TV.
  • Love it. Gettin' it.
  • @Jkota
    $100 for a hockey puck that will stream Netflix to your TV? There are much more cost effective options...
    $10 for an HDMI cable to plug into your computer/laptop
    $70 for a Roku HD that can do Netflix streaming in addition to other streaming services Apple TV doesn't support.
  • I wonder if anyone is selling an older Apple TV, personally I would buy one and connect my 2TB Ext. HDD and run my movie library that way.
  • I'm selling my ATV1, if you're interested in purchasing it. I'm selling for $70
    Email me at mike01545 (Gmail).
  • I actually prefer the "old" model as it stands right now for 2 reasons. The main one is I don't want to have my computer on 24/7 just to listen to music etc... And we have capped Internet allowances in my country, streaming more than a few shows/movies isn't going to be feasible.
  • i have a lot of itunes content i have the old apple tv but didnt like how hot it got they fixed that and i do occasionally buy movies but i can do that on my mac and just stream it. i will be taking the old apple tv moving to the back room loaded with some stuff and put the new one in the living room.
  • My Apple TV is Jailbroken. I absolutely love it. I don't have to leave my computer on to use it for photos and music and this is the dealbreaker for me.
    By the way, if you own an Apple TV, get one of the aluminium replacement remotes. It's so much better than the original one.
  • I am disappointed that my current Apple TV won't get the Netflix update. But I am definitely going to get at least one of the new ones so more of my TVs have Netflix and iTunes access. If you want to buy and watch, you can just purchase from your computer's iTunes account and then stream it to the box. $99 sounds like a pretty awesome deal to me given its capabilities. Frankly I am stunned that they agreed to add Netflix. That seems like such a direct competitor to iTunes.
  • I have pre-ordered my first AppleTV after seeing yesterday's demo. I'm in the UK so won't have access to Netflix or the 99c TV shows - at least not the current ones, but hope the UK TV markets open up a little more the same way ABC and Fox have - and that US Tv networks realise we live in a global digital age and there's no reason (bar Rupert Murdoch) why they can't licence their output to the UK's iTunes stores.
  • Local Apple Stores are selling the old Apple TV boxes at a discount. At $149, if you need component output or the hard drive, now is the time to buy.
    If you have a slow Internet connection, then will the new Apple TV even work? The hard drive gives the user the ability to store the entire rental, important if the download speed is slower than the viewing speed. If Apple designed in 8 GB of memory, then a single HD movie rental should work.
    There was a demonstration during the keynote that does give an answer on how slow Internet users could use the new Apple TV. You buy or rent the movie on your computer, iPad, iTouch or iPhone and then stream the stored content to Apple TV. That method will work nicely if memory is an issue. Only problem is adding the cost of a new device. Solution: ditch the slow DSL and get a fast cable or fiber connection.
  • @Erik moving my laptop back and forth from my TV seems like a hassle. I'm not really interested in that. Also, I'd gladly play $30 more for a product made by Apple than Roku. Sorry buddy, but it's my money. Paying more for a robust ecosystem of media seems like a fair trade. Call me crazy, I actually like iTunes. Depreciate that over the life of the product, and I feel like I'm getting the better deal.
  • I just leave a cheap PC (which has itunes, netflix, and a kazillion others already) hooked up to 73" tv and denon receiver and use a wireless kb/mouse remote. If you play around with settings, you can make the icons and text a bit bigger. Having favorites on desktop is way to go. Not too bad.
    One of these days i may get a cable card for it or see if google tv/dish network is worth anything.
  • I know that the natural reaction is "I can jailbreak my old one!" and yes, mine is "jailbroken." But I personally think it's foolish for people to doubt for a second that it will not be attempted, successfully, on the new Apple TV. That being said, I still prefer my old one solely on the basis of storage. I don't like streaming video from my computer to the TV via the ATV: it seems foolish, given that I have cords that do just that. I like the fact that I can dump a ton of videos onto my ATV (in a variety of formats) and enjoy. Once upon a time, there was Hulu on the ATV, and I'm sure the new kid will eventually get it. But, even sans Hulu, I love my old Apple TV, and I will not abandon it, or even pair it up with a new one. I am stubborn.
  • Honestly this isn't big deal. If you need storage, either buy the old AppleTV now or add storage for the new AppleTV. As long as you use iTunes you can still buy TV/Movies if you want. Since I'm in Canada, I'm not sure what NetFlix option is going to be. It makes me laugh that with all the bitching people made about the old AppleTV, when push comes to shove, its actually a pretty cool device. Limited yes, but you kind of knew that before you bought it, right?
  • @Jkota "Paying more for a robust ecosystem of media seems like a fair trade."
    Except you're paying more for the less robust ecosystem of media? It just doesn't seem that logical to pay $100 for a device with the only gain being Netflix streaming. You already have a previous Apple TV box that you planned to keep using you said so the only thing you gain with the new box would be Netflix and the episode rentals? The Roku option gives you Netflix, Amazon VOD, and several other services Apple TV doesn't offer for less money. That seems like the more logical choice, imo. But it's your money, I just figured it was something worth pointing out.
  • I have the old ATV with Boxee and XBMC installed. It works very well streaming content from network shares as well as Internet sources already. I download full seasons of tv shows using P2P and store them on my PC. I won't be getting the new one until boxee is available for it. The higher resolution will be nice.
  • Don't get me wrong, I love Apple products. But, they are one of the greediest companies on the planet.
    It is BS that they do not add netflix to older apple tv. The only reason they dont is to sell new ones.
    You still cant add external harddrives to older apple tv as well. They force people to have them.
    One word, UBUNTU......
    Apple's greed will be their downfall just like Microsoft. F#$K all giant corporations and their co%k$u(k1ng executroids
  • I like how everyone is complaining like they are being forced to buy the thing. I dont like the ipad and have no place for it between my ip4 and my laptop. So i didnt buy one. There are always other options, if it suites you, go for it, if it doesnt, dont. Simple. Y complain about something you dont want. My ip4 is awesome, im not gonna go evo or galaxy bashing just because i dont want one.
  • And as for complaining about not getting upgrades, THEY DONT OWE YOU ANYTHING. You bought that old atv without anyone telling u it was gonna b updated. And u were happy with it until a new one came out. When nissan adds features to the same model, you dont get an upgrade to ur car. When microsoft releases a new os, u dont get it for free! Your lucky ios upgrades are free and you have been spoiled into thinking you are entitled to something that you are not.
  • Everyone else is cool tho. "f u, f u,f u,...your cool,..f u,f u."-hALFBaKeD
  • @JB
    Well said
    Well said
  • @Erik how does the Roku handle my existing media? What garbage piece of software does it require me to use? There is an ease of use factor that I am willing to pay extra money for. I'm sorry these factors are intagible, because everything has to be quantified in your world. If you want to debate me on how I shouldn't spend 30 more dollars, then I'm afraid you're a lost cause.
  • Hmm. Although Ars Technica a reliable outlet, I'm not convinced that the current crop of units won't see an system update to at the least bring support for TV show rental. Surely the user base for these now discontinued models isn't huge, but it doesn't make sense to cut them out of the upcoming iTunes TV rental option.
    Yesterday's announcement was sparse on details and Flash (ha-ha, pun intended!) Steve didn't even demo Facetime on the iPod Touch or speak much on the new camera additions.
    Even if they did cut the current Apple TV user base out of an update, the core Apple TV community are "hobbyists" themselves. Sure most have already hacked their Apple TV units to add on Boxee. This gives them a much larger range of content to absorb; even more than will be available on the upcoming Apple TV model.
  • $99 and tiny. Just get both.
  • The lack of a hard drive to store purchased content on the new apple tv kills it for me. I will simply continue using my xbox 360 for my home theater. It has all the features of the new and old apple tvs and it plays games. But I do realize the advantage of the new apple tv for those who want to only spend $99
  • I have the current Apple TV, and love it! But, at $99 for the new Apple TV with Netflix (including 99 cents for rental) is such a bargain. I'll be the first in line to purchase the new Apple TV!
  • I'm not sure either, but see it as a first hack to add an external drive to the mini USB port. That for starters; I love being independent of my internet connection when I'm on the couch with a bowl of popcorn on my knees!
  • @Jkota
    It handles your existing media the same why the new "hockey puck" will, it doesn't. Since you said you already have a previous ATV for handling that existing media, it's also not relevant to either solution.
    It's not so much about $30 upfront as the episode rental fees. Using Amazon VOD purchases you'll do better over time with the Roku then you would with the new iTunes rentals on the new ATV. That's ignoring the other content channels that Roku provides.
    And the "ease of use" argument is rather pointless as the Roku boxes were made for that specific reason, just like the ATVs. If you want to compare ease of use it wouldn't be Roku vs. ATV but Roku/ATV vs. something like PlayOn that does DLNA streaming. The new ATV could end up being as robust as the Roku with jailbreaking in the future but then that goes against the whole concept of "ease of use."
  • Please tell Apple that consumers want choices. I like to rent movies and buy tv shows. Some are the opposite. Some want to rent movies and buy the really good ones, or buy children's movies, because they get watched over and over. Choices are important.
  • It is good to have the ability to read a good quality post with useful details on topics that a lot are interested on. The reason that the data written are all first hand on real experiences even assist more. Keep doing what you do as we love reading your work.
  • try to look for a Chinese guy with good tech knowledge. Maybe he can do your old apple tv with new features. :)
  • Here are my thoughts:
    Apple may be a greedy corporation, but what company isn't? Also, the 2nd Generation ATV is $99 (less if refurbished), giving you YouTube, NetFlix, and access to your 'limitless' iTunes library. For those (like me) who have A HUGE iTunes library, it can be a lifesaver.
    Roku is too expensive and Amazon isn't available for the Mac (as far as their site lists). I also like that I can bring an ATV2 out with me traveling, as well as an HDMI cable for viewing on a TV (assuming the connection is available).