Once again, Apple is rumored to debut a new Apple TV set top box hardware, and this time rumors are pointing to a release sometime next month in October. TechCrunch writer and Google Ventures partner M.G. Siegler had tweeted about the hardware’s imminent refresh.
“I guess those excited about a software refresh in a week are gonna be *really* excited when new Apple TV hardware is unveiled next month,” Siegler wrote.
Prior to the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c unveiling, it was rumored that Apple may update its television set top box. However, at the launch event, Apple didn’t mention any news about Apple TV and chose instead to focus on its iPhone and iOS 7 refreshes. It was later revealed that a new software update would be coming to the current Apple TV hardware and that update would arrive on September 18 alongside the release of iOS 7 to existing iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini users. Like these other mobile devices, Apple TV is also based on the same iOS operating system, but lacks the open access to downloading third-party apps and games and is more restricted to iTunes music, movies, TV shows, and select curated apps that Apple enables, like MLB At Bat and Netflix.
It’s unclear what new features Apple would enable with a new hardware refresh for Apple TV this time around. The current hardware is already powerful enough to stream full HD 1080p videos that are rented or purchased through the iTunes store. One feature that Apple could enable on Apple TV would be gaming, which could open up Apple TV to compete against more expensive home gaming consoles.
Whether or not Apple does enable gaming and more third-party app support is unclear. In a separate report on 9to5 Mac, Mark Gurman is reporting that Apple is testing motion control for the Apple TV. The Kinect-like controls could be used to control television functions and/or power games, and at this time it’s unclear if Apple is ready to launch such a product or if it’s saving the idea for its own Apple HDTV television set. Rival Samsung already uses motion and voice control for some of its higher-end television models.
But no matter the hardware design, we have been consistently hearing from our sources that Apple is thoroughly testing Xbox Kinect-like motion sensors for future TV-related products. When Apple plans to release motion-controlled TVs, however, is uncertain.
Another potential for the refresh would be to enable higher than HD video streaming with support for 4K video streams. Though 4K, or Ultra HD, is still new to the market, Apple may want to get in the game early.
Introducing 4K video streaming through Apple TV would require the content on iTunes to match. When that happens, it’s unclear if Apple would allow users who purchased either SD or HD video content in the past a free or discounted upgrade to UHD content when that becomes available, or if users who want UHD content would have to re-purchase all their content if they want the ultra high definition quality.