So we’ve covered Apple’s history about them interacting with TV content. And we’ve covered what rumors I don’t think will happen with this upcoming Apple TV concept. So what’s this about AppleTV being the next thing? Isn’t is it just a hobby? What this about moving pieces into place? Shouldn’t Apple’s “next big thing” not be something they already sell?
Apple TV… as an AppleTV?
Let’s start with what the AppleTV is now. Inside the Apple TV you’ll find 8GB flash HD, 256MB of RAM and an A4 processor. That’s the same processor as you’ll find inside an original iPad, iPhone 4 or iPod touch. Same goes for the RAM, which you’d find inside the iPhone/iPod Touch or original iPad. And any future version of the AppleTV is most liekly going to have better specs. Why so much packed in there if all you’re going to do is streaming and running a “lite” version of iOS? My best guess is that this will allow for some future proofing. Apple has already claimed that the AppleTV will be able to run apps in the future. It is just a matter of figuring out how to make touchable applications work on a non touch interface. And if it can run the full version of the OS, that would imply it would have the ability to stream out content as well over AirPlay, as that’s part of the OS.
In addition, there’s even hardware that are already a part of the AppleTV that isn’t even active yet. People who’ve hacked and taken apart the AppleTV has shown it has bluetooth, yet something that’s disabled by default. Enabling that natively in iOS would give the AppleTV the ability of having a bluetooth keyboard (and perhaps a “virtual finger” mouse) and you start having a pretty powerful machine. All with what’s already there.
AppleTV 3.0 by any other name…
But how does this fit in with the next big thing? I see this playing out 3 ways.
First up (although I doubt this will be it) is they could just have a video input port to hook up to your current cable boxes. With use of an RF blaster you could control the cable box and stream content not just to the AppleTV, but from it to your iOS devices. I’ve used RF blaster, and they aren’t exactly easy to set up or consumer fool proof. Apple likes their devices to be as simple to set up as possible, with a few wires as possible. Unless Apple figures out a way to control the cable box with magic, this isn’t very likely.
Second (and in my opinion the most likely) they just need to beef up AppleTV a little. It already has most of the features that would make a great TV content device, but with a few tweaks it would be a truly amazing device.
- It can already stream sports via MLB & NBA subscriptions. If you expand that to included NFL and NHL, you solve the issue most people say they don’t want to cut the cable cord.
- The next part already exists in part with AirPlay, but if you add in the ability to have iOS apps natively, all those channels with apps (ABC, Discovery, PBS for example) all of a sudden have their channels built in next to the TV. Think of all the TV content you can already consume on your iPad. All that instantly becomes available without another device
- We know it can in theory run iOS apps. And TV channel apps would be no exception. CNN already does live content with their app. If you let them include the actual stream you get your TV experience without having to have Cable. On the downside, at the moment these devices typically require you to already have an existing cable type subscription to log in. But you’d be able to get the channels you want, just buy downloading their apps form the store.
- As the most recent Logetech’s Harmony link device shows, the iPad is probably the best remote your TV could have, so interacting with that content on your TV would be incredibly easy. With an Airplay enabled TV, it wouldn’t be hard to have that same tuner app able to control watching TV on the TV, without it physically connected. Don’t have an AirPlay TV? Just connect it via a HDMI cable.
- How about when you’re playing games or interacting with content? The iPad or iPhone would be able to act as a virtual touch pad. This feature is kinda there with airplay, but in the wrong direction. The iOS devices become secondary screens to the AppleTV experience.
- Speaking of being secondary screens, the AppleTV could all of a sudden be your families gaming device. Imagine playing a board game or some other multiplayer game up on the big screen, while you have all your info and objects on your own iOS devices? Nintendo seems to think this would be all the rage, and there are already apps that take advantage of pairing a iPhone/iPod touch to a iPad for multi-gaming play (which scrabble call “party play”).
- If you take that, and couple it with all the online subscriptions that it already can do (Netflix, Hulu, etc) would create a very powerful TV device.
To round out the 3 (and enter the realm of fantasy, aka “This would be awesome”) is they “enhance” the box.
- This could be done by allowing for a cable card (or possibly a standard coax input) and releasing a Apple branded tuner app for iOS devices. It’s already wifi enabled, so streaming HD content to any device would be simple enough.
- Taking the Content Channel apps to the next level, you could just straight up have you able to subscribe to their channel. I know they have currently vetoed this, but after a year plus of seeing apple slowly crack the TV content system, perhaps they’ve softened.
- If you had it centrally set up it could also support multiple machines. iOS devices as well as AirPlay enabled TVs. Games and TV content right in your living room, bedroom, kitchen. Options are endless.
Apple TV… as an iPad? as an iMac?
But why stop there? Apple is about solutions, the experience. Coming full circle from part 1’s article… What if Apple reintroduced turner cards into apple’s design? iMacs are the same size as many smaller TV sets of today. I used to use an EyeTV adapter on my iMac before it died and I got my iPad. It was my Kitchen’s TV. A tuner connection can’t be that expensive. And you could integrate it with the rest of the iOS TV experience fairly easily.
But perhaps that’s the reason they won’t. My iPad has replaced all the function of my iMac, takes up less space, and is more versatile. Steve Jobs told BusinessWeek: “Asked if the iPad could evolve into the TV of tomorrow, Jobs shrugs and says, “That’s how I do most of my TV watching today.” Funny I also do alot of my TV/Video watching on my iPad. I’m guessign alot of others do as well. Is this a sign that traditional TVs are on the way out, and more personal interactive devices replacing them? Possibly. You can’t watch movies with a bunch of people with an iPad, but between AirPlay, personal TV streaming, and a host of other options, it’s at least invading it’s personal space.