In tandem with OS X Yosemite DP2 and iOS 8 Beta 2, Apple today is offering a new Apple TV Software also labeled as a beta, featuring an early taste of iCloud Family / Family Sharing.
Registered Apple developers can immediately download the Apple TV Software beta from the iOS Dev Center. The build is for Apple TV 3rd generation Rev A and Apple TV 3rd generation, which excludes second-generation units, in what would suggest that Cupertino is planning to make it obsolete.
Inside the beta, at least one exciting new feature has been discovered so far: Family Sharing.
Introduced on June 2 during the iOS 8 demo at WWDC, Family Sharing lets up to six people in a family to share purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store without sharing accounts.
“Pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending right from a parent’s device. Easily share photos, a family calendar, and more to help keep everyone connected,” Apple explained at the time.
Once someone in the family sets up the feature, members get immediate access to each other’s music, movies, TV shows, books, and apps. Apparently Apple wants to extend the functionality beyond iPhone and iPad, allowing for Apple TV content to be swappable between family members as well.
The discovery is particularly intriguing, knowing there are rumors that Apple will turn the Apple TV into a game console. An upgraded version of the set-top box is expected to drop later this year with new underlying software, App Store access, and support for third-party wireless controllers.
Of course, the Family Sharing feature could simply be there for families to share purchased movies and music from the box, but it’s hard to resist envisioning a state-of-the-art media center with all these rumors flying around.
Another feature that will also use Family Sharing on Apple TV will be photo albums.
“Family Sharing makes collecting and sharing family memories easier and more fun,” according to Apple’s web site.
“It automatically sets up a family photo stream where you can share photos, videos, and comments. And everything stays up to date on everyone’s devices. So you’re all a tap away from the latest vacation shots, birthday highlights, and family pranks.”
People love displaying their photo albums as slide-shows on the big screen, so this functionality is undoubtedly one of the reasons why Family Sharing is being ported to the Apple TV.