Apple has quietly activated TV show purchases on the Apple TV for owners in Canada, the UK and Australia, adding outright buying options to the existing iTunes rentals. Until now, Apple TV boxes outside of the US had only been able to stream TV show rentals bought through iTunes; now, there are reports from Canada, the UK and Australia that those limitations have been lifted. However, you'll still need an internet connection to watch the shows.
That's because the Apple TV only has limited onboard storage - just 8GB according to what was found in the teardown - and so relies on Apple's iCloud servers to actually store any purchased content. Bought shows and movies are streamed over your broadband connection on-demand, rather than saved directly to the STB as is the case with the iPad and iPhone.
There's no official word from Apple on the new functionality, only reports from owners waking up to find their Apple TV has a new skill under its belt. The STB has been one of the Cupertino company's less loved products, long described as a "hobby" and going unmodified since it debuted back in late 2010. In fact, suggestions have been made that Apple has in effect killed the product, and intends to replace it with an Apple Television using Siri for voice-control.
Of course, an update for the existing Apple TV - bringing, say, the dual-core Apple A5 processor, as in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, to the box - could simply be waiting on broader Siri availability across the company's range. Apple recently advertised for a number of new Siri software engineers, with responsibilities for broadening the APIs and integrating the virtual personal assistant with more services and software.
[via 9 to 5 Mac - thanks Paul!]