As promised, our latest streamed book, “Take Control of Apple TV” by TidBITS managing editor Josh Centers, is now available for people other than TidBITS members. From November 2013 through January 2014, we published a chapter each week as a perk for TidBITS members (see “‘Take Control of Apple TV’ Streaming in TidBITS,” 4 November 2013). It was again a success, encouraging more long-time TidBITS readers to support our work, giving us regular deadlines to hit, and eliciting a number of comments and questions that helped us refine the book.
Although it may not be obvious, there was still a lot of work to do after we published the final chapter in TidBITS, ranging from additional full-book edit passes to ensure consistency and clarity, cropping and resizing screenshots to reduce the file size from the original 190 MB, and tweaks to our custom CSS to prevent screenshots, sidebars, and headings from breaking across pages (when possible) in iBooks.
If you’re a TidBITS member and haven’t yet finished reading, you can continue to read all the chapters on our Web site for free, but if you’d prefer a PDF, EPUB, or Mobipocket version that you can read outside of a Web browser, you can pick up a copy for only $7 (that’s 30 percent off the $10 cover price — click through to the Take Control site from your member benefits page to load the coupon).
For those who wanted to wait for the finished product, we think you’ll find the 197-page “Take Control of Apple TV” worth both the wait and $10. Whether you’re considering an Apple TV or you already have one, it helps you take control of Apple’s living room device. You’ll learn how to go beyond watching movies and TV shows to make the Apple TV into the hub of your stereo system, display gorgeous slideshows of your photos, play iPhone and iPad games on the big screen, and more. With it, you can start down the path of cutting the cord (and the monthly bill) from your cable company!
New owners will benefit from the full setup instructions, and even long-time users will likely learn something new when Josh explains how to best control the Apple TV using the included remote, Apple’s Remote app, or even your existing TV remote. You’ll also learn how to customize the icon grid on the main screen, enable parental controls, and make your screen saver look awesome. Josh then focuses on helping you with AirPlay, the Apple technology that lets you beam audio and video from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to the Apple TV, and lets the Apple TV send audio to compatible speakers anywhere in your house.
When it comes to content, you’ll tour the Apple TV’s built-in video apps — iTunes Store, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, PBS, YouTube, and many more — plus get ideas for which are likely to offer what you want to watch. But you’re not restricted to commercial video — Josh explains how to best view your home movies and any DVDs or Blu-ray discs you own, listen to your music or to iTunes Radio, use Home Sharing to display your photos via the Apple TV, and discover iOS games that are designed for playing via the Apple TV. If you’re feeling geeky, Josh shows you how Plex can bring in even more video content, including free access to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”
Finally, the Apple TV isn’t just about entertainment. Thanks to AirPlay, it makes a great device for giving presentations from a Mac, iPhone, or iPad with Keynote; it’s the perfect accompaniment for a road warrior heading into unfamiliar conference rooms. Josh gives all the details, including a list of what you’ll need to handle any hardware you may encounter.
“Take Control of Apple TV” comes with a one-page PDF cheat sheet that we’re also giving away as a free download, so grab a copy to print out and keep by the TV for reference to Apple Remote tricks and AirPlay instructions for less technical family members. Feel free to share the link with anyone else it might help!