As if the launch of two new phones wasn’t enough to keep Apple busy, the company rolled out an update to its Apple TV set-top box today that added a pair of interesting new features.
First, as expected, the device now supports iTunes Radio, Apple’s streaming radio service, which was rolled out with iOS 7 on Wednesday.
The other, larger change is what Apple is calling AirPlay From iCloud. Basically, you can, after enabling the AirPlay From iCloud option in the menu, play a piece of content purchased on the iTunes Store through a friend’s Apple TV without that content being present on any of the devices with you. Now, you can introduce your friend to the majesty of “The Princess Bride” without having to keep it on your iPhone or iPad.
[Updated to clarify the functionality of AirPlay from iCloud.]
As The Verge pointed out, streaming from the cloud works differently from local streaming. Instead of starting playback instantaneously, like you’d expect from AirPlay, your Apple TV will try to build up a big enough buffer to weather any internet instability while you’re streaming. While the goal is to provide you uninterrupted viewing, it means you might have to wait a minute or two while the Apple TV builds up enough steam to get going.
If you want to use AirPlay From iCloud, though, you’ll have to upgrade to iOS 7 on at least one of your devices.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.