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Apple TV software update brings Beats Music, Family Sharing

The venerable Apple TV box received a minor update to version 7 software today. It offers a new Beats Music app, Family Sharing, and refined menu cosmetics.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I guess we'll have to keep waiting for a major update to Apple TV.

Along with new iOS 8 software for its tablets and phones, Apple today rolled out a comparatively minor upgrade for the venerable streaming box , bringing its software version to 7.0.

The biggest addition is an all-new app for Beats Music , the subscription music service Apple acquired earlier this year. The interface is similar to that of other Apple TV apps, with a grid of thumbnails for album art, access to playlists, and the Just For You section with customized recommendations.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats joins iTunes Radio, the Radio app, and of course Music, which leads to iTunes proper on the Apple TV. Some consolidation is in order, but in the meantime don't expect Apple to add a Spotify or Pandora app anytime soon.

Signing into iCloud on Apple TV under version 7.0 also gives access to iCloud photos and Family Sharing, the latter new for iOS 8. You can designate up to six family members with whom to share content such as apps, music, and photos.

The update also gives the menus a facelift that apes the flat look of the mobile operating system. No, it's not a new app store, but at least it's prettier.

Replacing the blue outline around icons you select is a thinner white line. Gone is the subtle reflection underneath icons. More icons are visible on the screen at once, some of them look subtly different, and the iTunes store looks sleeker. The signal-strength meter is dots now, not ascending steps. The font is also thinner and smoother, taking better advantage of high-resolution (1080p) displays.

The update to Apple TV version 7.0 is accessible now by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. It works only with the latest generation of Apple TV boxes.