A Vision for Apple TV
It seems that the Apple TV (actual television set) rumors have died down a bit, but none the less I still feel that there is a place for Apple in the television market. I do not, however, believe that they can just squish together an Apple TV and a display. I think that they need to make a real leap forward in terms of both software innovation and platform development. Here are some ideas of how I think they could do it.
First and foremost, I think Siri is going to be opened up so that developers will be able to give Siri access to their apps. I also think the ATV will have an App Store, and Siri. So you could ask your tv questions like "What’s the score on the Red Sox game?" "The game is just beginning, would you like to me turn it on?" "Oh! Turn it on!" and now you’re happily watching the Red Sox. Or you could ask "anything good on?" and it will know what your favorite shows are based off of what you watched, shows you’ve purchased on iTunes, etc, and tell you if anything of those shows or similar shows are on, or if they’re about to start. Ect.
Streaming and Connected Television
Now imagine if your TV came over the internet, live. And if you wanted to go back and watch a show you missed, you could. Without a DVR or TiVo. And you could tell your friends about a scene you really liked on Facebook, all from your TV. I think this is just the beginning. Because right now I think there are a lot of people who are perfectly happy being on Youtube instead of TV. I don’t even watch tv anymore, besides on Hulu or if my friends are watching something. On demand television just feels necessary at this point. Being able to pause a live tv show, or pay a subscription to get less or no ads would be a welcomed feature, especially with no set top box. It’s all just your tv.
Another idea I have I call "Open Channels" where anyone can create a TV channel, sort of like a podcast. But these are more like YouTube channels. You can create a stream if you want, that’s curated so the best content comes on when people are getting off work. But it would also be a little library of content. And you could add these libraries to your list of channels, or remove ones you don’t like. If you chose to create a channel that isn't curated, then it would simply play through the content. My best example for this would be an organization like TED which has a vast library of lectures that could easily just be ported over to a streaming channel. I would hope it could be open to your YouTube or Vimeo subscriptions but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it (or any of this stuff, who am I kidding?).
No More Stacks of Remotes
But, really, all of this could be done through the current Apple TV box (and I would hope Apple would update it to support these features) so whats the need for Apple to make their own display? I think the answer is remotes. With the new Apple TV, any company that makes a set top box could also make a app for iOS that would handle all of that box's controls. Whether its a Blu-Ray player, or any other box, it could be completely controlled with an app.
These are just a few things I’ve been thinking about. Of course you would also have your iTunes library, podcasts, movie rentals (I think tv rentals are really dumb with the existence of Hulu), Airplay, netflix, youtube, and tons of apps built just for the tv.
As far as the interface goes, I can’t really see it being touch enabled. I think iOS devices will come into play as far as being a remote, along with a more traditional remote, but more capable than the one they’re making currently. Really though, Siri would be the most used interface.
But there is one more thing.
Apple TV, the App
Apple TV is an app too. So you can watch, pause, save, share (etc.) live and recently released tv shows on any Apple device. Mac, iOS, whatever. Siri is probably coming to the Mac, which means all of those commands I talked about earlier would work just as well. So lets say you don’t like or want a tv in your house (I’m probably in that group) then feel free to cuddle up with your iPad and watch some Glee.