Apple TV Users Can Now Watch Purchased iTunes Shows, Not Just Rentals

Apple TV with remote

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has linked its Apple TV device to television shows purchased from a user’s iTunes account, meaning that those in the Apple Garden can now buy a show on an iOS device and watch it on Apple TV, or vice versa. A software update is rolling out Monday that makes the connection and appears to set the stage for the coming rollout of iCloud later this year.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball noticed the new software update this morning. The release notes for the update, version 4.3, read “Purchase TV shows on Apple TV. Shows purchased on Apple TV can be re-downloaded on other iOS devices. Shows purchased on other iOS devices or with iTunes automatically show up as available to play on Apple TV.” The update is rolling out gradually to Apple TV users and may therefore take a while to show up for certain users, and it appears to be a U.S.-only service at the moment, according to Gruber.

Apple TV had previously allowed users to rent television shows from iTunes, but the new update essentially allows them to use iTunes like a storage locker for purchased shows that can be watched at any time. Rentals are still allowed, but part of Apple’s pitch for iCloud has been the ability to access your files essentially anywhere at any time if you’re using an Apple mobile device. Apple TV didn’t really fit into that plan before the software update if you wanted to buy a TV show, as you would have to buy it from your computer or iOS device and stream it to the Apple TV through the AirPlay technology.

All of this only appears to work with the second-generation Apple TV device, according to Apple. The new software also allows Apple TV users to access videos through Vimeo on their devices, adding another source of cat videos in addition to YouTube.

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