Apple iTV rumours: what you need to know
We love the Full HD Apple TV box, but Apple really isn’t so sure: the company has seemed more interested in getting iPads into your living room than its Apple TV box.
Apple says the Apple TV is a hobby, but the company is thinking bigger. Much, much bigger: it wants to sell you the entire TV set, not a little box beneath it.
In an early 2012 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted again at the release of something bigger and better than the current Apple TV. Check out our in-depth look at How Apple’s television will really work or read on for all the latest rumours.
Cut to the chase
What is it? A TV, but with added Appleness
When is it out? Probably late 2014
What will it cost? An awful lot, we expect
Is Apple iTV confirmed?
Cook says: "With Apple TV, however, despite the barriers in [the TV set top box] market, for those of us who use it, we’ve always thought there was something there. And that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling the string, then we might find something that was larger.
"For those people that have it right now, the customer satisfaction is off the charts. But we need something that could go more main market for it to be a serious category."
However, it is possible that he meant a set top box, and rumours have continued to rumble on that Apple is in talks with US cable providers and more content providers over a new version of its existing Apple TV box.
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Stronger hints came in a December 2012 Tim Cook NBC interview. "When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years," Cook told Williams. "It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that."
Apple isn’t the only one dropping big hints either – manufacturer Foxconn had to refute reports in late May 2012 that it had begun to produce the Apple iTV after a story emerged quoting chief executive, Terry Gua, as saying Foxconn was "making preparations for iTV."
More speculation citing Foxconn involvement emerged in December 2012 and then again in late March 2013 and July 2013, especially as the company has decided to move into TVs.
But then in late 2013, analysts suggested the project had been postponed in favor of developing the iWatch and an Apple A7-toting Apple TV box.
Further rumors in very early 2014 concerned a fourth generation standard Apple TV box that could do more with iOS devices including buying and downloading apps and games via a new App Store (or Game Center) – currently you can AirPlay games and apps over to Apple TV, but there is lag. There may also be a controller, but far more likely is that you’d continue to use your iOS device.
Here are all the rumours and speculation surrounding the Apple iTV, which some have also claimed may end up with the surely unlikely name of the Apple iPanel.
Apple iTV release date
Most rumours predicted a 2013 Apple iTV release date but as we head into the Christmas silly season, this is clearly not happening.
Analysts in Japan predicted in October 2013 that Apple would in fact ship 55-inch and 65-inch 4K Ultra HD TVs in the fourth quarter of 2014 which sounds a lot more realistic.
The New York Times says that price, not technology, is the problem: Apple is waiting for the cost of large LCD panels to fall further before building iTVs. But we’re pretty doubtful we’ll see a new Apple TV or iTV device in Autumn 2013.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster suggested in November 2012 that the iTV would come out a year later, in November of 2013. Wrong. Earlier in 2012 Munster was calling for Apple to announce the Apple television in December, then the first half of 2013, but he was proved totally wrong before changing his estimate to 2014. Maybe right.
According to Market Intelligence Center, David Einhorn from Greenlight Capital told his investors that he believed Apple would come out with its next "blockbuster product" – the iTV – soon. Wrong.
In December 2012 Wall Street Journal sources said that various TV prototypes have been on the company’s slate for a number of years.
Apple iTV design
A report in mid-2013 from Cult of Mac claimed one of their contacts saw a working prototype of the Apple TV. The report claimed that Siri and iSight will feature (so face and voice recognition then), while the design is similar to that of an Apple Cinema Display.
In August 2013, Patently Apple found a patent that included a fused glass process for housing, a bit similar to that found on the iPhone 4S, being used on various Apple devices, including iPhones and iPods, in the future.
The Telegraph says that "sources within the company" say that Jeff Robbin, the man who helped create the iPod, is leading the team. Apple has seemingly denied rumours that it is working with French designer Philippe Starck. Remember when he worked with Microsoft on a mouse?
However, it appears that Starck was actually working on another project, a yacht, with Steve Jobs before his death.
On 13 May 2011, we reported that Apple is rumoured to be in talks to buy TV manufacturer Loewe. AppleInsider wrote that talks have entered the advanced stages and Loewe is expected to make a decision on Apple’s offer within the next week.
Apple iTV specifications
Australian tech site Smarthouse says that the Apple iTV will come in three sizes, including 32-inch and 55-inch models. That’s quite a range!
Smarthouse isn’t usually the go-to site for Apple rumours, but its report echoes similar claims by respected Apple analyst Gene Munster, who told the recent Future of Media conference that Apple will make its TV in a range of sizes.
"The smallest one will be 42 inches in size, followed by a 52 inches one and a 60 inches iTV (coincidence or not, these exact sizes are available on Sharp TVs, too)," said Gozmorati. This information was repeated in several similar stories.
Rumours also continue to circulate that Samsung could be heavily involved in the iTV project, not least because of features such as TV Discovery, enabling you to easily find programming.
An early 2013 patent, reported on by Macworld, describes "a sound system that could be launched as part of its iTV. The intelligent system could determine where a user is in a room, and if he or she was not within the optimum range, the processor could modify the audio output, says the application. It could also adjust based on which way the user is facing, and the environment that the user is in," Clever stuff.
Apple iTV 4K?
New rumours from the ever-questionable Digitimes suggest we could be seeing a 3,840 x 2,160 display from Apple. Apparently LG would manufacture the display. We’d be amazed if this one was true, but the rumours aren’t exactly going away and reached fever pitch in July 2013. See Is Apple eyeing LG’s Ultra HD panels for its own iTV set?
Apple iTV operating system
As with the Apple TV, any iTV is likely to run iOS, albeit in slightly disguised form. Compatibility with other iOS devices is a given: current Apple TVs already accept video streamed via AirPlay and access shared iTunes libraries. We’ll be amazed if the iTV doesn’t get apps.
Expect Apple iTV and Apple TV to work more like iOS does on the iPad; the newest iOS 6 Beta for the Apple TV enables app icons to be moved around the homescreen just like on the iPhone and iPad.
That has led some observers to conclude that the rumoured App Store for Apple’s favourite ‘hobby project’ might be on the way sooner rather than later.
Apple iTV and iCloud
Steve Jobs told his biographer: "I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."
According to one source which claims to have seen the device, the new TV has Siri and FaceTime.
Apple iTV remote control
The iTV will come with an ordinary remote control, and will be controllable with iPhones, iPod touches and iPads, but the real remote control will be Siri.
Apple’s voice recognition system will be the heart of the new Apple TV, enabling you to choose channels and control the TV’s functions with voice alone. That means " the simplest user interface you could imagine" is voice.
However, according to a new patent filed in March 2012, Apple has come up with the design for an advanced universal remote that would also be compatible with your iPhone and iPad.
But could Apple also be thinking more about games? Some sources say so, with an official joypad-type device possibly on the cards to work alongside Apple TV.
Apple iTV AirPlay mirroring
After AirPlay mirroring from Mac to Apple TV was present in the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, it’s not a great leap to suggest that the Apple iTV could mirror the display of your Mac or iPad wirelessly too. AirPlay mirroring is now 1080p with the new iPad and new Apple TV.
When a prototype was reportedly ‘seen’ it did feature AirPlay.
Apple iTV programmes
While the iTV will get content from iTunes and iCloud, it’s not going to be completely separate from current TV broadcasters: Munster says that you’ll still need a cable TV subscription and decoder because Apple doesn’t have enough content. However, the August 2013 rumours suggest that Apple has given up on cable providers, instead opting to negotiate directly with content partners such as ESPN, HBO and Viacom.
We’re not sure whether it would play nicely with Freeview and Freeview HD here in the UK, but perhaps a DVB-T compatible unit will arrive as part of a second generation.
Les Moonves, who is CEO at CBS, says he was previously the recipient of a pitch from Steve Jobs regarding his network’s participation in a subscription-based service, but turned him down. Apple is also rumoured to be talking about getting partners involved for movie streaming.
His reasoning? Moonves says he was worried about damaging the network’s existing revenue streams through broadcast and cable television.
The main question is whether Apple will open the door for third-party content, like the BBC iPlayer, Sky Go and 4oD and other apps we’ve seen on connected TV platforms. These may well arrive with apps – the Apple TV SDK will pull on the iTV ecosystem and we’re expecting apps to be available for Apple TV too.
Mind you, it’s also been claimed that Apple will seek to cut traditional TV providers out of the content loop.
Apple iTV display
March, June and December 2012 rumours pointed at Sharp being the manufacturing partner. SlashGear says work on components is already under way. In mid April, Sharp announced it had begun production of 32-inch HI-DPI LCD panels at its Kameyama Plant No. 2 – could these be the panels destined for the Apple iTV?
Apple contractor Foxconn’s parent company has made a rather large investment in Sharp – does this indicate something we wonder?
Both companies were apparently working together to ‘test’ TV designs in the December 2012 rumours.
In February 2013 it became clear that Apple had hired James (Jueng-jil Lee, a former senior researcher at LG. According to the OLED Association, he had been working on a printed AMOLED TV display.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Lee lists his role at LG as "OLED Technology Development for TV Application" and he said he was "developing the Soluble Technology (RGB Type) for OLED TV application at LG Display". LG continues to be rumoured to be involved.
If the iTV does appear, it won’t leave manufacturers quaking in their boots. That’s according to Samsung’s Chris Moseley who told Pocket-Lint in early February 2012 that the firm isn’t overly concerned with what Apple launches if it decides to enter the TV market
"We’ve not seen what they’ve done but what we can say is that they don’t have 10,000 people in R&D in the vision category," he says.
"They don’t have the best scaling engine in the world and they don’t have world renowned picture quality that has been awarded more than anyone else."
Apple iTV price
Gene Munster reckons that the iTV will be twice the price of a similarly sized TV. Ouch. However, new March 2012 rumours point at a subsidised launch – courtesy of various partners.
Apple iTV gaming and apps
Although most of the rumours so far have been about the hardware involved in the iTV, gaming may be a major focus of the new device. Apple CEO Tim Cook was spotted in mid-April at the HQ of Valve Software, the company behind gaming platform Steam. Some rumours are drawing more from this meeting, saying Apple could be producing a Kinect-style gesture-based console. But this is likely to be part and parcel of the iTV.
Will Apple iTV do well?
With smart TVs taking over the TV market, analysts reckon that the time is ripe for an Apple iTV to be launched. Smart TV adoption grew from 12% in 2011 to 25% in 2012, according to a new report from TDG.