updated 02:10 pm EDT, Thu October 27, 2011
Apple TV set may be guided mostly by voice
The Apple TV set Steve Jobs had hinted late in life is still a distance off but already has some of its first ingredients in place, a detailed rumor explained Thursday. As some have suspected, the NY Times understood from sources that the control solution Jobs had "finally cracked" would be Siri, the natural language voice command engine first appearing in the iPhone 4S. The goal would be to eliminate the often troubling remote control altogether and intelligently find what the user wants, whether it's a TV show or an Internet video.
Jobs himself may have hinted voice when he mentioned his TV idea would have the "simplest user interface you could imagine." Many of the individual details of how it would work aren't clear, such as how it would overcome the sound from the TV itself.
Apple still has some time to work out the project, according to the tips. The TV has been a "guaranteed product," they said, dating back even to when the first Apple TV set-top box arrived in 2007. A year ago, there had been "large parts" circulating that may have been key to a prototype. On its current timeline, the company is believed to be ready to unveil a set as soon as the end of 2012 and ship in 2013.
Along with needing to refine the product itself, Apple may also be waiting for cheaper displays to get TVs in line with its cost expectations. Most large, Internet-aware TVs are significantly over $1,000 and often over $2,000, discouraging any casual upgrades. Most TVs are kept for several years or more where Apple often tries to have buyers upgrade every two to three years, making it impractical to trade up at usual TV prices.
If accurate, the current Apple TV hub will have always been Apple's testbed for what it ultimately wanted to implement. During results calls, Jobs and other executives have long referred to the device as a "hobby" but have always hinted that they thought there "was something there." Many have interpreted this to mean that future devices would just be improvements on the box, although Jobs noted that one of the greatest obstacles to getting widespread adoption was the need to get a separate box beyond just the usual cable or satellite TV receiver.