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Having only released iOS 6.0 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users last week, Apple has now offered a healthy update to its little black box – the Apple TV – with build 10A406e also taking the version number up to 5.1.

With Tim Cook having famously dubbed Apple TV as a mere "hobby," the minuscule, 99-dollar device certainly hasn’t had the best of starts in the consumer market. Allowing content to be streamed via various Apple logo-bearing devices to an HDTV, it has only sold in modest numbers, and the incessant talk of the Cupertino-based company making a more significant push in the TV category (i.e. bring out its own connected TV), certainly hasn’t helped matters a great deal, either.

Apple TV New

The 3rd-gen Apple TV did offer some significant improvements like 1080p support, but even that was outshone by the simultaneous release of the 3rd-gen iPad, and at present, consumers are favoring the 2nd-gen over the 3rd-gen due to the untethered jailbreak available to the former.

It’s certainly a little bit of a mess, but the latest update – which can be installed on both the 2G and 3G Apple TV boxes -brings a host of new features and improvements.

As well as your usual dose of bug fixes and general performance improvements, Apple TV 5.1 brings Shared Photo Streams – so you’ll be able to browse and comment on images within your iCloud groups, and receive notifications when new content is made available.

AirPlay support means you can now stream audio content from your Apple TV directly to your AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices, including AirPort Express and other Apple TVs. You can also now save login credentials to multiple iTunes accounts – switching between them as you so wish – and iOS 5.1 also allows you to view movie trailers, offering local theater showing times for consumers residing in the USA.

Features 1 AppleTV

It would seem a little strange Apple has opted to stick with iOS 5.1 instead of labeling the release as iOS 6.x – especially given the correlation in terms of features. That said, Apple kept the iOS 4 versions running through much of iOS 5′s iDevice tenure, so perhaps it’s a matter of preference as much as anything else.

The easiest way to update your Apple TV to the latest firmware version is to navigate to: Settings, then General and select the Update Software option.

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