It appears that the time has come for the little black box to grow up and become a significant player in Apple’s ecosystem. Some reports even speculate that the Apple TV will be THE center of the Apple ecosystem in homes; connecting Internet of Things devices via HomeKit, showcasing iCloud & Photos content, playing games and eventually streaming broadcast television. While the iPhone 6s will undoubtedly take center stage at this Wednesday’s event, all signs point to the new Apple TV being the real star of the show.
First, the raw details that first leaked at 9to5Mac and have been quoted through out the web since. The device will run iOS 9 and include an updated remote, likely with an integrated touchpad and accelerometers for rough gesture based input.
The internal hardware will be significantly upgraded from the prior iteration with the inclusion of an A8 processor, 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11ac wireless capabilities resulting in a $149 price point. It appears the price may be tied to the internal storage space with several variants being considered, likely 8 and 16GB models.
While this will create a very formidable little box, the current rumor is that it will not support 4k video.
One of the biggest improvements with the new device is said to be the interface. While initially ‘clean and simple,’ the grid based icon layout of the current Apple TVs has become a sea of never ending icons and is far from pleasant to use. Frankly I have all but ditched mine as the speed to arrive at an application and then load it is easily surpassed by competitors such as the Roku 3.
Thankfully, iOS 9’s new Proactive Spotlight Search capabilities provide a handy tool for eliminating the need for endless icons. With so many options for streaming, the ability to ‘deep search’ into applications and immediately get to the content you want will be key for TVs of the future. This improved search along with upgraded Siri functionality is said to make the new Apple TV interface really shine.
In the past, this is where the updates would have stopped, a spec and UI bump. Sure there were people that had heard rumors or seen ‘Apple TV’ show up in Flurry results, but a true native App Store for the device never materialized… until now.
Finally, after many years of speculation, desire and even dedicated gamepad support in iOS, the new Apple TV version will have apps! Why now, why not years ago? Only Mr. Cook knows the truth but I have several theories we can discuss over beers at WWDC next year.
What is most surprising to me is that until now, there has been NO visibility of this in the development tools. None. Apple isn’t about to release an App Store without apps, so what gives? This is complete speculation, but I believe this will be very similar to the iPad launch in that the new Apple TV will support much of the current App Store catalogue with few if any tweaks needed in the code base.
However, for those that have the resources, there will be a 30 day window in which to develop an Apple TV-‘optimized’ build of your application. Much like the iPad launch, these will get special billing in the store.
This actually brings me to one of my theories on the delay, I believe the remote was a big factor and this new remote enables the backward compatibility to fill the store from day one.
Either way, we will see for sure on Wednesday September 9th starting at 10am PST.
Rob Witman (@robwitman)
Read more about Apple TV 4:
- Apple TV 4 specs and price revealed
- Apple TV 4: big focus on gaming and Siri, support for Bluetooth game controllers
- Apple TV 4 will cost $149-$199, available in October