updated 08:50 pm EST, Sun December 18, 2011
Apple TV may go beyond voice with DVR link, motion
New leaks from within Apple's media talks have hinted that the long-rumored Apple TV set may go beyond just voice commands. The sources for the Wall Street Journal had the set responding also to "movements," hinting at a motion system like Microsoft's Kinect or the Nintendo Wii remote. Development has also supposedly been underway for uniting DVR storage with iCloud, hinting that a user might stop watching a regular broadcast TV show on the set itself and then pick it up later on an iPhone or a computer.
As widely expected, it would also lean on Apple's existing digital ecosystem. AirPlay would let users easily push media directly to the TV, instead of having to go through the Apple TV media hub of today. Apple has long been been rumored gauging the reaction to an iTunes subscription TV service, but one contact described this as still "exploratory." The late Steve Jobs was supposedly in meetings during 2010 to talk about what rights could be had.
Whether or not it would pick up traditional TV isn't completely certain, but TVs above a certain size in the US are required to carry an ATSC tuner for at least over-the-air HDTV. As such, it would have little reason to hold back given what its rivals have and how reluctant content providers are to accept the Internet for TV.
Discussions have supposedly picked up in the past few weeks between Apple Internet Services Senior VP Eddy Cue and media heads, indicating that the company is going forward. Earlier rumors had a TV set arriving in late 2012 or early 2013, but these weren't corroborated in the new tip.
Despite having said that he "finally cracked it" regarding easy-to-use TVs, Jobs is believed to have been fully aware of the problems coming an Apple-made TV. He supposedly told a managerial briefing in Carmel that it would be a "bad business" to make a TV as Apple would have to both run on lower profit margins and accept that viewers won't buy frequently. Where Apple can often assume its customers are ready to buy every two to four years, most TVs are kept for several years and might slow down Apple's quick update cycle.
Jobs and Apple might have been keen to head off Google. Although Google TV is struggling to get any support in the current climate, company chairman Eric Schmidt has claimed that most TVs will use Google TV by summer. Still considered an important device by many, the move could see Google take de facto control of the smart TV market, even if many of its customers don't actually seek out Google TV or use any of its special features.