New Apple TV Software Is 3.0.K., But Still Needs Some Punch

Apple TVApple (s AAPL) released a software update for its Apple TV set-top box today offering a redesigned interface and support for iTunes LP and iTunes Extras on big screen TVs.

From the press release:

The redesigned main menu on Apple TV gives you instant access to your favorite content. Recently rented or purchased movies, as well as other content including TV shows, music, podcasts, photos and YouTube, are accessible directly from the new main menu.

Along with these nice new visuals, the update also lets users access Internet radio stations through their TVs, and some photo viewing enhancements, including the addition of iPhoto Faces, which uses facial recognition to organize photos. For more on the update, visit our sister site, TheAppleBlog.

An interface refresh is fine and all, but Apple will need to do something much more bold to set itself apart from the highly competitive over-the-top video space. The OTT on-demand rental market will hit $2.1 billion by 2014, and Apple hasn’t been innovating along with its competitors in the TV space. Television manufacturers are baking all kinds of widget functionality directly into the TV, the Roku is expanding its channel partners, and Netflix is getting on every TV-connected device under the sun…except for the Apple TV.

Of course, maybe Apple is bypassing the whole set-top thing entirely by turning its iMacs into TVs.