Apple TV update failures

I found Apple’s Express Lane while haggling with a new piece of tech over software updates.

We got tired of wrestling weirdness with the dying first generation Apple TV in our living room. It’s dying a painful death, so we bought another second generation Apple TV to put in that room.

The Apple Store had a refurbished model in stock and we ordered it without hesitation. I’ve had great success with refurbished Macs and this Apple TV is not an exception. It arrived in perfect condition, just like the brand new Apple TV we bought a few months ago.

The only problem we’ve had is that the refurb came with iOS 4.1.x installed and the updater refuses to install the latest version (the one with the MLB, NBA, and stability fixes).

At first I feared we had received our first dud from Apple, and the jury is still out on that one, but it looks like it is simply a server issue on Apple’s end.

I picked up a thread on Apple’s own discussion forums where other users from all over the U.S. and Switzerland to Australia were struggling with the same issue. There are sporadic stories of success, but it wasn’t finding me. That’s when I discovered Express Lane.

Support in the Express Lane

The support service is represented by what looks like an iOS app icon in Apple’s now infamous blue hue. Log in with your Apple ID, leave a phone number, and set up a time for Apple to call you back.

It worked like a charm.

I set an appointment for today at 11 a.m. My iPhone 4 rang just a few minutes after and I had an anticlimactic answer by 11:10 a.m.

The rep told me the “higher ups” know about this issue and confirmed there is a problem with the Apple TV updates server. While he couldn’t give me a firm ETA, he did let me know they are working to fix it.

Patience is the fix. It isn’t what I wanted to hear, but the update should install correctly sometime in the next few days. So I will muster my patience and try the update again tomorrow.

Followup: Patience failed. We downloaded the ipsw file from a squirrelly source, connecting the Apple TV to a Mac with a Micro USB cord (the same cord used with the Amazon Kindle) and using iTunes to manually update the device (hold the option key and click restore).