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Apple is reportedly planning a new set-top-box with content from Time Warner Cable

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Apple TV 2012 hero (EMBARGO)
Apple TV 2012 hero (EMBARGO)

Since Steve Jobs first told his biographer that he wanted to make a smarter TV, there's been no stop to rumors that Apple will produce a product that seamlessly delivers live and recorded television programming. Now, Bloomberg reports that such a device could be imminent. Two sources tell the publication that Apple is planning to introduce a new Apple TV set-top box this April, and ship it in time for Christmas. The Wall Street Journal says Apple could release the box as early as June, although it may come "several months after that."

While details about the device are scarce, Bloomberg reports that Apple is actively negotiating with Time Warner Cable and other video partners to secure content, and that the set-top box could include a new interface and a faster processor than the current media streaming device. The Wall Street Journal says that Apple has scaled back more ambitious plans to offer full seasons of current shows, and is now asking content providers for the five most recent episodes instead, as is reportedly standard for other video-on-demand services. The WSJ also notes that the device may disable fast-forwarding on shows for three days after their air date, a move designed to protect TV channels and their advertising interests.

Apple's set-top box may disable fast-forwarding on shows for three days after they air

Of course, this isn't the first time we've heard that content deals are on the table for such a product, and those deals have apparently fallen through before. In September 2012, Bloomberg reported that content negotiations — again with Time Warner Cable — would keep a product from shipping later that year. Today's report actually contradicts one from NPD DisplaySearch analyst Paul Gagnon yesterday, who said content deals would actually cause another delay into 2015. All we know for sure is that sales of the existing Apple TV streaming device have picked up, that the company has "a grand vision," and that Tim Cook won't stop talking about new product categories.