If you were feeling wary of updating your Apple TV due to reports of bricked set-top boxes, Apple has re-released version 6.0 of the device’s software. It’s also taken the wraps off another feature of the update not covered in last week’s hands-on: automatic setup from your iOS device.
This feature, first rumored a few months back, lets you configure the set-top box’s Wi-Fi password, iTunes Store account, and language and region format preferences just by touching your iOS device to your Apple TV.
Of course, there are a few restrictions: Your iOS devices must be running iOS 7, and the process requires an iPhone 4s or later, third-generation or later iPad, iPad mini, or fifth-generation iPod touch. You’ll also have to enable the iOS device’s Bluetooth and make sure that it’s on the Wi-Fi network you want the Apple TV to be on.
Once you touch your iOS device to your Apple TV—yes, physically touch, according to Apple’s directions—you’ll be prompted on your TV to enter your Apple ID and password—far, far more friendly than doing so using the little silver Apple TV remote. You can opt to have the Apple TV remember your Apple ID password for the iTunes Store, and choose whether or not you want diagnostic information sent to Apple; after that, your Apple TV ought to set itself up automatically. Just remember to keep your iOS device within 10 to 15 feet of the Apple TV while it finishes setting up.
Other services, like Home Sharing, iTunes Match, and third-party video providers (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and so on), can’t be set up in this fashion—you’ll need to do it the good old fashioned point-and-click way.
This marks yet another clever way that Apple’s leveraged its integrated ecosystem to provide simpler, more friendly processes for setting up its devices, although it would be pretty handy if it could provide a system for letting third parties authenticate using their respective apps on your iOS devices, too. Perhaps in Apple TV 7.0.