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Apple TV Update 5.1.1 May Fail over Ethernet

Apple last week released Apple TV Software Update 5.1.1 for second- and third-generation Apple TVs, adding support for the new Up Next feature that debuted in iTunes 11, along with performance and stability improvements. However, there are a number of reports of problems updating over wired Ethernet connections. In some cases, the Apple TV may fail to boot after a failed update.

The solution is to unplug the Ethernet cable and update over Wi-Fi. That has worked for many people for whom the update wouldn’t install. However, if your install failed such that the Apple TV won’t boot at all, you can manually restore the Apple TV by unplugging the power and HDMI cables, and connecting it to your computer with a micro-USB cable (for a third-generation Apple TV, you’ll have to reconnect the power cable after this). Open iTunes, select the Apple TV from the Source list (located in the sidebar in iTunes 10 and from the Devices button in the upper-right corner in iTunes 11), and click Restore.

Of course, it may also just be worth holding off on the 5.1.1 update entirely if you don’t need the Up Next feature and aren’t experiencing any other problems that the update might fix. Apple will likely release either 5.1.2 or a new version of 5.1.1 shortly.


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Comments about Apple TV Update 5.1.1 May Fail over Ethernet
(Comments are closed.)

Higherterrain  2012-12-02 15:16
Another failed update by Apple. Seems that they are not taking the time to test these patches up before releasing them, which tells me that they are getting lazy now that Steve isn't around to crack the whip.
barefootguru  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2012-12-02 16:14
Apple (and other companies) has always had the occasional update with issues--it's nothing to do with Steve.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-12-02 17:03
I actually agree that Apple has been having troubles with update quality, but that's been happening for years now, well before Steve stepped down. Even the last few iterations of Snow Leopard had major problems that were introduced.

We could say that Apple's QA department is being lax, or we could be charitable and say that these products have become so complex that no one actually can test them effectively.
techpinscher  2012-12-03 01:39
Apple TV v2 & v3 sold were 6.8 million at the end of last quarter. That discussion thread the article pointed to had a whopping 52 replies when I looked and some of the replies are reporting experience of no problems at all. 52 of 6.8 mil possible upgrades equates to 0.000007 in percentage terms. I think it is astonishing that you could opine Apple's QA department is being lax even if 100 times more or 5200 replies reported they had a problem while upgrading as it would still not be even close to one percent experiencing a problem IF all of the them upgraded. If Adam has to to mention the deceased Steve Jobs (I assume you meant him) it is fair to say Apple's QA is so much more improved given the complexity from the Mike Spindler and Gil Amelio pre-Steve return days of Apple's System 6.0.8 days or 7.5, 7.5.1, and 7.5.2 days when Apple's own system extensions brought down a newly upgradeable OS in some cases. May I please request a little more thought and thoughtfulness in the future.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-12-03 06:50
That was only one discussion thread of quite a few that were started on the same topic, but in this case, I don't believe that the number of replies is particularly relevant, for a number of reasons.

First, not everyone will get to the update at the same time, and it's entirely possible that Apple rolls out the update to the user base over time anyway. Second, I would expect only a very small percentage of users to be updating over Ethernet, since it's so much easier to connect via Wi-Fi and most people won't have Ethernet near their TVs. Third, the solution is so easy that there's no need for people to reply - they can just fix the problem without needing to chime in. Fourth, this has hit a number of knowledgeable folks in the Mac community, including Jim Dalrymple and Don McAllister, and that, while it doesn't mean the problem is necessarily all that widespread, lends credence to the reports from users whose experience is unknown.

Finally, just because a problem may not be super widespread doesn't mean it isn't maddening for those people who experience it, and by publishing information about the solution, we make it so anyone searching for help finds the article.

As for the comments about Steve Jobs, I said quite specifically that I see no correlation between Apple's QA and his departure. The quality of updates over the last few years has not been as high as would be ideal (for example, Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2 causing boot failures), and how that might compare to releases made 20+ years ago doesn't seem all that relevant.
Jim Huls  2012-12-03 07:33
Just before iOS took off the industry was complaining about the lack of computer science talent coming out of school. That was during a time that google was said to be grabbing everyone and MS was struggling to keep theirs.

Now you have the mobile and iOS market taking off and if you recall apple struggled internally with the release of one of their operating system just after the iPhone came out(Snow Leopard?). With all of this I think it seems fairly obvious that apple has grown incredibly quick and is having a tough time with quality development because of that and racing to compete with everyone.

I looked at apple's employee numbers on Wikipedia back in'05 or so and then looked at them a couple years back and it was shocking how much they had grown.

There's just not enough quality talent out there but let's hope they're learning.
Lamont Kennedy  2013-01-18 08:39
Quite frankly, as a consumer of Apple products, which are more expensive than average, I would, and anyone should, expect above average support and quality control. Also as a consumer, I really don't care about the millions of other people who had no issues with updates or products. I care about the ones I've had issues with. Having some statistic stating that my problem(s) is/are in the low percentage of overall user's experience doesn't help me one bit (Steve or no Steve) period. Excuses don't serve people who buy Apple products very well and I do have several. So as an End User Community or Consumer Advocate Group, we shouldn't really waste time debating about the leadership at Apple. We should however, hold Apple to the high standards they themselves promote and we have embellished them with by the price we're willing to pay. We should expect leading technologies that allows us be more productive and provides access our data/media (Amazon Video Player on Apple TV) without compromise
Joe Young   2012-12-29 19:34
I tried the update many times, and after waiting, and waiting, and waiting, only to be told it didn't download completly, your little tidbits came to the rescue. The solution to unplug the Ethernet cable and update over Wi-Fi works GREAT and faster also..
Thanks, Joe Young
Kelly Mackey  2012-12-02 15:42
Here are other problems with 5.1.1:

* Podcasts don't remember the playback position. Before, when stopping and going back later, there was an option to resume. Now podcasts start over from the beginning without a resume option.
* Netflix does not update the watched episodes of TV shows. Before, the episode selection would default after the last watched episode.
Josh Centers  2012-12-03 23:32
Thanks for the info, Kelly. I believe the Netflix issue was in the previous version as well.
Dennis  2012-12-02 19:54
I updated mine over ethernet. No issues here. Only had to enable Airplay again (?!)
I upgraded two ATV 2s to 5.1.1 over ethernet with no problems.
I had the problem w/ both my atv 2 and atv 3 when it stuck at step 1 of 2 I rebooted them and restarted the update. Worked like a charm.
Brian Halbrook  2012-12-10 11:34
I thought my update had stalled on step 1 as well while updating over wifi, but I just stayed patient and eventually it finished. Probably took over half an hour to complete step 1, but it did.
Curtis  2012-12-03 09:59
The upgrade worked fine for me both over Wi-Fi and Ethernet on the second try. It hung on both Apple TVs the first try and requred a reboot. They need a watch dog to handle when the upgrade hangs.
Mark Paul  2012-12-03 10:18
The update worked fine for me over both Ethernet and WiFi.
david cuddy  2012-12-03 13:02
My update of ATV3 over ethernet failed. But troubling is that Apple now seems to push these updates whether customers want them or not. When 5.1 first came out, an update screen appeared notifying me of the update and asking if I wanted to update "now" or "later". I didn't want it at all, preferring to wait to see if it was problematic, so I clicked "later". (there was no option to decline altogether). A few hours later I noticed the activity light on my ethernet switch flashing away as the update was being downloaded to the ATV autonomously. I was given no opportunity to accept or decline its installation, and ended up with 5.1 installed.

The 5.1.1 bug that Kelley reported above (Netflix not remembering watched episodes) will really bug my wife, but it looks like I won't have a choice in whether it gets installed or not.
Re: the title

Well,that's a pretty sweeping statement. It doesn't reflect my experience, though. I have an Ethernet connected Apple TV, and the update completed with no real problems, although slowly.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-12-03 15:21
I've edited the title to clarify that Ethernet updates will not fail in every case, as the article clearly pointed out.
Josh Centers  2012-12-03 23:33
Good to hear that the update issue isn't affecting all users! Hope we've been able to help out those who have been bitten by the bug.
dean morse  2012-12-05 05:43
I took the update 5,1,1 and now when watching a video streaming from my Mac, it plays for a min or so and then it goes back to the Home Screen. It seems to happen only with the stream from my Mac. I watched a Netflix show without interruption. When I go back to try to watch a video streaming from the Mac, it goes to loading my library. This happens again and again. Any ideas? So far I have tried reloading the update, re-setting and restarting.
Matthew Doss  2012-12-09 14:12
Worked great- thank you.
Bocaboy  2012-12-11 07:48
Absolutely solved my problem. The irony is that it took 3 calls to Apple Support to get the same answer to resolve my problem with updating my ATV3!!
Josh Centers  2012-12-11 16:31
Glad we could help!
Ken Hilsenteger  2012-12-12 13:05
My Apple TV will not allow me to select anything, even the update on Ethernet. I will try the Wi Fi solution tonight. I can access Netflix using my Wii, so I know it is not my Ethernet connection or Netflix itself.
Thanks, this fixed my problem after I switched from Ethernet to wifi
Josh Centers  2012-12-14 19:39
Glad we could be of service.
Dave J  2012-12-31 16:09
Thanks, my new Apple TV updated fine when I disconnected Ethernet and used Wifi. Now everything is working great, we love it!
Lamont Kennedy  2013-01-18 08:44
BTW: The fix worked! Should I continue to use WiFi as opposed to Ethernet?
No, use ethernet. It has way better performance.