The Apple TV may be adding support for Siri in a future hardware refresh, thanks to some code found in the software development kit of iOS 7.1, first spotted by Pierre Blazquez. The file that the code was found in deals with Assistant, which is Apple’s internal name for Siri.
The UIDeviceFamily array in the code tells us what platforms are compatible with “Assistant” (or Siri), and a “3″ is shown in the list, which represents the Apple TV, while the 1 and 2 represents the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch lineup.
Of course, the code itself isn’t the important part, but what is important is that the code shows that Apple TV might be getting support for Siri at some point in the future, which tells us that the Apple TV could see voice search capabilities in the future in order to take on Amazon’s new Fire TV streaming box. The Fire TV launched with voice search capabilities and is one of the biggest features of the new device.
9to5Mac has confirmed that the code exists in both iOS 7.1 and iOS 7.1.1, but is missing in iOS 7.0.6, which means that Apple recently added the code in, suggesting that this may be a new thing they’re working on, or at least are close to launching.
This also further hints to the possibility of a new Apple TV hardware refresh coming at some point in the future, and we know this because the added functionality of Siri would not work on the current generation Apple TV because it doesn’t have a microphone, so in order for Siri to come to the Apple TV, a new hardware version would have to be manufactured.
Of course, we’ve already been bombarded with rumors of a new Apple TV over the last couple of months, with the most recents happenings involving Comcast, with rumors that the cable company might be working in a partnership with Apple over streaming content to the Apple TV exclusively. Comcast even mentioned the “development of an Apple set-top box,” which can really only mean one thing.
Furthermore, the next Apple TV could also come with gaming support, similar to Amazon’s Fire TV, although it’ll be interesting how Apple implements it into the set-top box. Rumors have pointed to the possibility of Apple launching its own app store for Apple TV games specifically, and users would be able to use an iOS 7 gaming controller or the Apple TV remote as a barebones option.
A lot of details are still unknown about the Apple TV’s future support for gaming, including how games would be stored locally, but it could end up that iCloud might be the main storage facility for Apple TV games. This might be Apple’s way to into the gaming market and take on the Xbox One and PS4, but we’ll ultimately have to wait and find out.
The next-gen Apple TV is also said to pack a built-in TV tuner, which makes perfect sense at this point. Sources say that this will allow the Apple TV to control your existing cable box, similar to how Google TV works. Doing this would give users their own Apple-esque TV guide and navigation menu, that way folks wouldn’t be stuck with the existing software on the cable box, which isn’t exactly user-friendly or good-looking to begin with.
That same report also claims that the next-gen Apple TV could come with a built-in AirPort Express, most likely as a premium option that will cost more. We’re a bit confused as to why you would want an Apple TV and an AirPort Express in the same box, but it might make sense if the goal was to deliver the best network performance for the Apple TV because of all the streaming that occurs to and from the box, and we suppose it would make the ultimate travel gadget, but it just seems rather random, so we’ll take it with a grain of salt.
As for when we’ll see a new Apple TV, the latest ramblings suggest that Apple will announced and unveil a new Apple TV this month, but won’t actually launch it to the public until later in the year closer to the fall when the holiday shopping season is about to begin. Of course, April is closing in on us, so we’re not sure if the Apple TV will make it this month.
The release schedule that’s rumored, however, would be very similar to how Apple released its new Mac Pro. The company announced the new computer earlier in 2013, but didn’t officially launch it until later in December. However, it’s certainly not Apple’s overall style. The company usually releases new products a couple of weeks after they’re announced, but Apple could just be taking the summer to finalize content deals and make sure the hardware is ready to go before officially launching it to the public.