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New Apple TV may offer cable TV integration in addition to gaming

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No longer just an area of intense interest

AppleTV (embargoed)
AppleTV (embargoed)

Following Apple TV rumors from 9to5Mac last week, the site's often-reliable Mark Gurman has revealed more details on the next-generation of Apple's set-top box. While last week's report focused on the ability to play games through Apple TV, this week Gurman reveals a number of features that would make the new box a total overhaul of what Apple TV is, rather than a simple refresh.

Apple TV could "control your existing cable boxes and TV stations"

9to5Mac reports that Apple is toying with the idea of integrating a "TV tuner component" that "has the ability to control your existing cable boxes and TV stations." This functionality, which sounds similar to both the Xbox One and Google TV's approach, would allow users to watch live TV through their Apple TV boxes with "an Apple-designed user interface atop their content." One other possibility mentioned is that the company could integrate an Airport Express into its Apple TV, allowing it to perform as a router as well as a set-top box. Apple took a similar approach with its Time Capsule, which acts as both a router and a backup hard drive. It should be noted that 9to5Mac is fairly non-committal on the features, describing them as "in testing."

The article reiterates last week's rumors that Apple TV will include gaming, adding that existing iOS devices and "Made for iPhone" controllers could be used to control games on the big screen. It also points to the recent reorganization of Apple's online store, which gives Apple TV its own section for the first time, as a signal of Apple's intent to turn Apple TV from a niche project into a mainstream product. Last week, 9to5Mac earmarked the first half of 2014 as a potential release date for the new Apple TV.