Blog

Apple TV OS 4.1 now increments play counts on a shared library

Apple TV now increments the Play Count and Last Played Date of a music track played from a shared iTunes library. (Skips are still not counted.)

Shared movies are also marked as “watched” after watching. Nice!

The November OS 4.1 update of the new Apple TVs (2nd generation) brought this new feature that I have not seen covered yet in the press.

This means that the listening habits of the Apple TV — which is bound to be the central media playback device in many households — now count toward Smart Playlists based on Most Played, Recently Played and other similar criteria.

Previously, the only way to accomplish this required “pushing” music from a source library to the Apple TV as an AirTunes destination. Less than convenient — and requires you to bypass the nice Apple TV interface.

I had previously devised an overly-elaborate workaround, but that is no longer needed. Yay!

More features I’d like to see come to Apple TV music:

  • iTunes DJ (altho the Remote app and the “push” method above work fine at a party full of iPhones)
  • Set star ratings remotely and/count skips (I’ve got an unrated, newly-encoded Apple Lossless master music library in desperate need of some curating.)
  • Only display playlists being shared by remote iTunes (all of them show up right now)

Previously:

Watching my first movie with Netflix app for iPhone (UPDATED)

UPDATED
The all-new Apple TV is real. Netflix is built-in. It now makes even more sense why Netflix for iPhone is exclusively focused on Instant queues.)

Yesterday, Netflix updated their iPad app to version 1.1.0 which added iPhone and iPod touch support. Netflix.com has been crashing Safari on my iPhone 4 (maybe just an iOS 4 issue?), so I was eager for official native app to manage my DVD queue on mobile.

We also wanted to test movie streaming, so we ventured out and got an Apple Composite AV Cable. These are my impressions:

  • The “Netflix on iPad” app allows you to manage your DVD queue as well as your Instant queue.
  • The interface of “Netflix on iPhone”, while native, only gives access to titles available for streaming. So, you can only manage your Instant Queue using Netflix for iPhone. (There are other iPhone apps of varying quality that will do actual DVD queue management.)
  • Removing a film from your Instant Queue on iPhone is not immediately obvious. You must be in the info screen for that title, then tap the “In instant Q” button, which then brings up a confirmation prompt asking “Remove from instant Queue?”. And then, nothing happens — the movie info remains on screen until you go back to the Queue. It’s minor, but it would feel more iPhoney to have a Swipe-to-Delete action or an “Edit” toggle on the main Instant Queue list screen.
  • Play quality on the iPhone screen seems nice enough, but I’ve read reports that it is a huge battery drain.
  • Luckily the AV cable includes a USB cable for supplying power to your device thru the dock connector. As a bonus, our Sony Bravia has a USB-style port labeled “DMex/Service” which happens to supply enough power to kick my iPhone 4 into charge mode.
  • Not surprisingly, the “DMex/Service” USB port does not have enough power to charge an iPad. You’ll need to use battery power or be close enough to an outlet to use a power adapter.
  • The iPhone 4 bumper case prevents the AV cable from fully connecting due to the larger older-style dock connector. It doesn’t actually matter (yet), because…
  • “Netflix for iPhone” doesn’t support video out via the dock connector (yet, as of v1.1.0). iPad does already — and the dock connector is universal — so we watched this fine Chris Pine vehicle using “Netflix for iPad” instead.
  • Video quality out the iPad via the Composite cable was fine but not great. Being streaming video, I doubt it would make a different, but another option is the Apple Component AV Cable if your TV supports that input.

The best thing about the AV cable is that it is long. Second, the video cable is separate from the R/L audio pair. I can think of many circumstances out in the field where this would be really handy. I also do agree with the criticism that the outside of the RCA connectors themselves are too smooth and difficult to disconnect, but I expect they’ll mostly remain attached to the back of our TV so that’s not a deal-breaker. If it is for you, there are other brands of compatible connectors. Maybe even one that fits thru the iPhone 4 bumper.

In any case, this system is workable. The streaming inventory isn’t too huge on Netflix yet anyway. But other apps like YouTube and iPod support video out, so the cable isn’t going to go to waste. Also, Apple may surprise us at their upcoming Sept. 1 event — maybe these iTV rumors will finally materialize. If not, the boxee box is right around the corner!

Time Out New York feature on NYCGMC “Darkly”

This week’s Time Out New York magazine features an interview with Mike about next week’s NYC premiere of “Through A Glass, Darkly” by the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus.

Chorus sings about addiction
“High” is a meth-themed concert.
Time Out New York / Issue 769 : Jun 24–30, 2010
By Beth Greenfield

This concert is one night only – Wednesday June 30 at 8pm. Tickets are still available through the Skirball Center website.

Previously:

Best Use Of Business-Speak In Comment Spam

We recently got this wonderful comment spam:

Substantially, the article is really the greatest on this deserving topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your upcoming updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the wonderful lucidity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay abreast of any updates. Good work and much success in your business dealings!

“Rock Band Live!” workshops in NYC

Mike and I have written and produced the arrangements for “Rock Band Live“, the first-ever live entertainment adaptation of the hugely popular video game by MTV Games. After a two-week workshop, 3 private performances begin today thru Friday at 42nd Street Studios in New York.

The show was written by our long-time pal Joey Wartnerchaney and produced by RWS & Associates Entertainment, Inc., in conjunction with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and MTV Games.

The score features mashups of “We Got The Beat / We Will Rock You / Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Any Way You Want It / Hit Me With Your Best Shot” as well as interactive, live gameplay with volunteer contestants from the audience.

Read more here:

Overheard in the Theatre

Overheard at Anyone Can Whistle, New York City Center 4/09/10
Orchestra Right, row E – behind us as the curtain falls on Act 1:

Well, they ought to be ashamed of themselves! That is no way to end a season…
I think their voices have to be shrill to do what the music was composed to do. Well, they did it cuz it’s his 80th birthday.