Apple TV, formerly stuck in hobby status, is starting to get serious attention at Apple. While the current Apple TV continues to receive a steady stream of new channels, the latest today being Red Bull Sports, little was done by Apple in the way of promoting it. It still sold fairly well, likely due to it being a fantastic iPhone accessory that’s priced right. Still if didn’t want an Apple TV, chances are that you wouldn’t bump into it in the Apple Store (retail or online). Spotted first by 9to5Mac, the Apple TV is now listed among the main product categories when you visit the Apple Store online. It’s listed next to iPhones, iPads, iPods and Macs. The Apple TV finally has its place at the big boys table and this has happened without any major product refresh.
Reports surfaced last week that a refreshed Apple TV is in testing, adding support games and possible apps. Control would be handled by iPhones, iPads and possibly the new line of MFi game controllers. The new Apple TV could also include support for new content channels.
Sources alledge the fourth generation could gain Airport Express integration, doubling as an 802.11 ac router. This seems like an odd pairing. Apple TV has built-in wireless with support for ethernet connections. Most users put their Apple TV near their TV or AVR. How many of these users have their cable/Internet near their televisions? Companies like Verizon FIOS require using their cable modem, unless you jump through a number of hoops, which includes not being able to use their DVRs.
Probably the biggest news is the testing of a built-in TV tuner that would enable Apple to take over control of a cable box. This could theoretically allow for an Apple UI overlay that could be somewhat transformative. That being said, Google TV attempted this with little success.
It’s clear that Apple has renewed interest in the Apple TV. Promoting the current generation with such increased vigor does seem odd, unless some of what’s coming in the pipeline will be supported on older, legacy devices.