Apple iTV rumours: what you need to know
We love our new Full HD Apple TV, but we’re not sure Apple does: the firm’s more interested in getting iPads into your living room than Apple TVs under your flat screen.
Apple says the Apple TV is a hobby, but it turns out the company is thinking bigger. Much, much bigger: it wants to sell you the entire TV set, not a little box beneath it.
In a 15 February earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted again at the release of something bigger and better than the current Apple TV (credit CNN Money).
"With Apple TV, however, despite the barriers in [the TV set top box] market, for those of us who use it, we’ve always thought there was something there. And that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling the string, then we might find something that was larger.
"For those people that have it right now, the customer satisfaction is off the charts. But we need something that could go more main market for it to be a serious category."
Apple isn’t the only one dropping big hints either – manufacturer Foxconn had to refute reports in late May that it had begun to produce the Apple iTV after a story emerged quoting chief executive, Terry Gua, as saying Foxconn was "making preparations for iTV."
Here are all the rumours and speculation surrounding the Apple iTV, which some have also claimed may end up with the surely unlikely name of the Apple iPanel.
Apple iTV release date
Most rumours predict a 2013 Apple iTV release date, but the more optimistic observers think Apple won’t want to miss 2012′s Christmas shopping season. The New York Times says that price, not technology, is the problem: Apple is waiting for the cost of large LCD panels to fall further before building iTVs. However, the latest rumours in May 2012 suggest that we won’t see the Apple iTV until 2014.
Apple iTV design
In mid-May a new report from Cult of Mac claimed one of their contacts saw a working prototype of the Apple TV. The report claimed that Siri and iSight will feature (so face and voice recognition then), while the design is similar to that of an Apple Cinema Display.
The Telegraph says that "sources within the company" say that Jeff Robbin, the man who helped create the iPod, is leading the team. Apple has seemingly denied rumours that it is working with French designer Philippe Starck. Remember when he worked with Microsoft on a mouse?
However, it appears that Starck was actually working on another project, a yacht, with Steve Jobs before his death.
On 13 May 2011, we reported that Apple is rumoured to be in talks to buy TV manufacturer Loewe. AppleInsider wrote that talks have entered the advanced stages and Loewe is expected to make a decision on Apple’s offer within the next week.
Apple iTV specifications and display
Engadget predicts an A5 processor and 1080p video – neither of which are a huge surprise, granted.
Australian tech site Smarthouse says that the Apple iTV will come in three sizes, including 32-inch and 55-inch models.
Sources at "a major Japanese company who are involved in manufacturing the TV" reckon the sets will have the same processor as the forthcoming iPad 3, which presumably means an Apple A6.
Smarthouse isn’t usually the go-to site for Apple rumours, but its report echoes similar claims by respected Apple analyst Gene Munster, who told the recent Future of Media conference that Apple will make its TV in a range of sizes.
March and June 2012 rumours pointed at Sharp being the manufacturing partner. SlashGear says work on components is already under way. In mid April, Sharp announced it had begun production of 32-inch HI-DPI LCD panels at its Kameyama Plant No. 2 – could these be the panels destined for the Apple iTV?
Apple contractor Foxconn’s parent company has made a rather large investment in Sharp – does this indicate something we wonder?
Apple iTV operating system
As with the Apple TV, any iTV is likely to run iOS, albeit in slightly disguised form. Compatibility with other iOS devices is a given: current Apple TVs already accept video streamed via AirPlay and access shared iTunes libraries. We’ll be amazed if the iTV doesn’t get apps.
Apple iTV and iCloud
Steve Jobs told his biographer: "I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."
According to one source which claims to have seen the device, the new TV has Siri and FaceTime.
Apple iTV remote control
Munster says the iTV will come with an ordinary remote control, and will be controllable with iPhones, iPod touches and iPads, but the real remote control will be Siri.
Apple’s voice recognition system will be the heart of the new Apple TV, enabling you to choose channels and control the TV’s functions with voice alone. That means " the simplest user interface you could imagine" is voice.
However, according to a new patent filed in March 2012, Apple has come up with the design for an advanced universal remote that would also be compatible with your iPhone and iPad.
Apple iTV AirPlay mirroring
After AirPlay mirroring from Mac to Apple TV was present in the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, it’s not a great leap to suggest that the Apple iTV could mirror the display of your Mac or iPad wirelessly too. AirPlay mirroring is now 1080p with the new iPad and new Apple TV.
When a prototype was reportedly ‘seen’ it did feature AirPlay.
Apple iTV programmes
While the iTV will get content from iTunes and iCloud, it’s not going to be completely separate from current TV broadcasters: Munster says that you’ll still need a cable TV subscription and decoder because Apple doesn’t have enough content.
We’re not sure whether it would play nicely with Freeview and Freeview HD here in the UK, but perhaps a DVB-T compatible unit will arrive as part of a second generation.
As of 6 March 2012, rumours were continually doing the rounds that, as the New York Post reports, Apple is planning to launch a music streaming service this side of Christmas.
On 13 March, Les Moonves, who is CEO at CBS, says he was the recipient of a pitch from Steve Jobs regarding his network’s participation in a subscription-based service, but turned him down. Apple is also rumoured to be talking about getting partners involved for movie streaming.
His reasoning? Moonves says he was worried about damaging the network’s existing revenue streams through broadcast and cable television.
The main question is whether Apple will open the door for third-party content, like the BBC iPlayer, Sky Go and 4oD and other apps we’ve seen on connected TV platforms. These may well arrive with apps – the Apple TV SDK will pull on the iTV ecosystem and we’re expecting apps to be available for Apple TV too.
Mind you, it’s also been claimed that Apple will seek to cut traditional TV providers out of the content loop.
Apple iTV price
Gene Munster reckons that the iTV will be twice the price of a similarly sized TV. Ouch. However, new March 2012 rumours point at a subsidised launch – courtesy of various partners.
Apple iTV picture quality
If the iTV does appear, it won’t leave manufacturers quaking in their boots. That’s according to Samsung’s Chris Moseley who told Pocket-Lint in early February 2012 that the firm isn’t overly concerned with what Apple launches if it decides to enter the TV market
"We’ve not seen what they’ve done but what we can say is that they don’t have 10,000 people in R&D in the vision category," he says.
"They don’t have the best scaling engine in the world and they don’t have world renowned picture quality that has been awarded more than anyone else."
Apple iTV gaming and apps
Although most of the rumours so far have been about the hardware involved in the iTV, gaming may be a major focus of the new device. Apple CEO Tim Cook was spotted in mid-April at the HQ of Valve Software, the company behind gaming platform Steam. Some rumours are drawing more from this meeting, saying Apple could be producing a Kinect-style gesture-based console. But this is likely to be part and parcel of the iTV.