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Tuesday January 28, 2014 6:40 pm

Apple TV set to see major update, no longer a “hobby”

Apple TV Store Section

If you were paying close attention to the changes that Apple made to the Apple Store Online overnight, you would have noticed that, for the first time in its history, the Apple TV has its own section in the Store. Previously, the device had been relegated out of the way, buried in the iPad Accessories section. Odd, sure, since the Apple TV is hardly an accessory for the iPod at all, save for the fact that they can work together over AirPlay, but where else was Apple to put a product that wasn't meant to be featured? After all, the Apple TV wasn't a real business according to Apple--it was just a "hobby." Something the company dabbled in and played with, pulling the string to see where it would lead. Let's be clear: Apple has ambitious TV plans. The company has just been using the Apple TV as a research project. While it has been available for purchase for many years, Apple never advertises it. Not on television, radio, print, or web. So, the fact that here in 2014, seven years after first going on sale, the Apple TV now has its own dedicated section on the Apple Store (with AppleCare, a refurb section, and dedicated accessories) must mean that something bigger is happening, right? Well, where there is smoke, there's fire.

Our friends at 9to5Mac are reporting that there is a new version of the Apple TV in development, with various features in testing. One major feature is the combining of the Apple TV and AirPort Express wireless router, essentially turning every Apple TV into a super-fast 802.11ac hotspot or wireless repeater. Why? Well, in this scenario, the video quality and speed of delivery would be vastly improved when compared to other devices like the current Apple TV, Roku, and others that are connected to a Wi-Fi router that is usually in another room.

The new Apple TV will likely also see video games as a key feature, with users having the ability to use their iOS devices as game controllers, as well as physical dedicated controllers as well. We've been hearing that this would be a part of an Apple TV App Store, where users would be able to pick and choose which Apple TV apps they'd like to have, and is likely why the WWE Network on Apple TV announcement couldn't be made official at CES.

Finally, Apple has been testing a TV tuner feature for the Apple TV, which would allow it to take control of your cable box or DVR (similar to what the Xbox One currently does,) overlaying an elegant, Apple-design UI atop the content, and allowing for gesture and voice control features.

Last year, Apple promised that 2014 would be a big year for new product categories. Yesterday on the Apple Q1 2014 earnings call, Tim Cook again made a point to state that Apple has major new products ready to launch this year.

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