Next generation Apple TV referenced in iOS 7

The Apple TV is likely to see a refresh sometime in early 2014. The last product refresh was in March of 2012, when Apple released the third generation with support for 1080p. Various rumors have a new model which will include support for a new content type, support for games and could feature a router integrated into the product. What was once a hobby for Apple, it’s now listed as a major product category in the Apple Store next to iPhone, iPad, iPod and Macs. The first confirmed existence of new hardware comes today via 9to5mac, who have spotted references to the new hardware in an iOS 7 software build.

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Within iOS 7, there is a reference to AppleTV4,1, within the Apple TV framework. It apparently refers to AirPlay functionality. The current shipping version is referenced by 3,2, which includes a minor change from the March, 2012 model.

Apple TV iOS 7 reference

The references appear to have been there from September, when iOS 7 was first introduced. Today’s report doesn’t bring us any closer to an announcement or release. Apple is always working on new hardware, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.

It will be interesting to see if Apple’s hobby brings new tricks or a modest refresh when the fourth generation model is introduced. The introduction of game controller support in iOS 7 should help if Apple is serious about gaming. Prices of existing controllers could be an enhibiter. How many people would pay $99 for a controller to accompany a $99 Apple TV? Though if Apple is going all in on gaming, why not include an Apple-branded controller?

In related Apple TV news, a new Beatles channel was made available today, commemorating the 50th anniversary of their legendary appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It marked the group’s first appearance in the U.S. The new channel will appear without any need for updates.