The Unheralded Awesome New Feature in Apple TV

A couple of weeks ago, Apple released a software update to the Apple TV, and the news was mostly under the radar.  The fact that Vimeo support was added got a bit more play than the feature I care most about — streaming previously-purchased TV shows through the Apple TV via iCloud!

I’ve written a few times about my use of external hard drives to store my iTunes media, and the purchased TV shows are the big space hogs.  Then, when I had a major data loss, I resigned myself to never being able to get back to the media files that were lost.

We have two Apple TVs in the house, one in the living room, one in the bedroom.  Any time that I wanted to watch something I’d purchased from Apple, I needed to have my external hard drive connected to a computer in the house, and leave iTunes up and running on that computer, in order to stream the media using the Apple TV.  Not a big deal, but a White Whine / First World Problem on those nights when I go upstairs to bed, want to watch TV, but forgot to set up the computer downstairs for this scenario.

Now, with the Apple TV software update, the problem goes away.  No more do I have to leave the hard drive plugged into the laptop and leave iTunes running.  No more do I have to lament losing the previously purchased TV shows.  I can now offload the files from my external hard drive, freeing up space for other things.  This could easily be my favorite new Apple feature of 2011… which is kind of sad, now that I think about it.

Update: As I go back through the news about this software update, looks like John Gruber agrees that the pre-purchased aspect was more interesting than the Vimeo inclusion.  Nice to know I’m not the only one.


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