An “Inside Apple” newsletter emailed out in the middle of the night announced the availability. Apple customers are invited to test drive the new software at a retail outlet.
As expected, the new features include rental of movies and TV shows directly from the TV-connected box, some in high definition with 5.1 surround.
Apple TV automatically checks for software updates — similar to iTunes — but owners of the older machines can get their new software fix right now.
Steve Jobs told MacWorld the updates would be available in mid-January, but the company later announced a delay. Analysts have been debating the new Apple TV software’s merits sight unseen, until now.