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Friday October 28, 2011 2:40 pm

Will the Apple TV set be driven by apps and Siri?

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, HDTV, Home Entertainment

Apple TV MLB app

As soon as Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs hit the streets, buzz about a possible Apple television set has hit a fever pitched. The idea was renewed based on comments Jobs made that he had finally "cracked" the interface for such a device. Now a new report suggests that we may have already met that interface: Siri.

It's been less than a month since the new digital voice assistant on the iPhone 4S debuted to the public, but Apple may already have plans for it to feature as the controller of a connected TV. Nick Bilton, writing for the Times' Bits blog, says Apple engineers tried one thing after another in their search to simplify or do away with the remote control. After floating ideas like a wireless keyboard or iPhone control, they eventually had their eureka moment: just talk to it.

Although the report cites anonymous sources who say Apple has a television in the works, it's not clear if the information about Siri as a controller comes from them or is Bilton's speculation. It does seem like a logical move for Apple to include Siri in future products, particularly any TVs it may be working on. However, it remains to be seen if consumers fully embrace it as a control mechanism or see it as a barely useful extra. In addition, integrating Siri would require a level of electronics that most TVs don't have, pushing the price up.

Apple executives have been planning a dedicated TV product since 2007, the report says, ever since the original Apple TV set-top box came on the scene. Of course, that product flopped, Apple itself started calling it a "hobby," and basically let it languish until late last year, when the stripped-down model was released and became something of a hit, thanks mainly to the $99 price.

Getting into the TV business isn't without its challenges, but Apple appears set on bringing its tremendously influential brand, along with iTunes, to the living room in a big way. The numbers certainly make it look attractive: Earlier this week UBS said an Apple TV could potentially ad $100 billion to Apple's value as a company, if it's a success.

When will the real Apple TV arrive? The Times predicts an announcement in 2012 with a product release in 2013, but that sounds absolutely nothing like Apple, which almost always launches products as soon as it unveils them. Credit Suisse put out a report earlier this week that said an Apple TV is still two or three years out, mainly because Apple still needed time to work out content deals.

The discussion of Apple TV had definitely moved from "if" to "when," though. Now all Apple has to do is deliver on a groundbreaking product that will shake up a broken industry and execute on a production and marketing strategy in a category it has no experience in. Again.

This article, written by Peter Pachal, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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