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Apple drops clues at bigger app plans for Apple TV

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In the run up to WWDC, it was reported by BuzzFeed News that Apple would unveil an all-new Apple TV set-top box during Monday's keynote and open the product up to app developers. Those plans were apparently delayed, but there are new clues in Apple's latest developer tools that suggest apps — not just the select "channels" we've seen so far — could indeed be on the way.

As MacRumors notes, Apple has allowed app makers to link the Apple TV to their developer accounts for some time now; this allows beta builds of upcoming Apple TV software to be installed. Apple TV sometimes shares new features with iOS, so it makes perfect sense to let developers install those updates early.

With yesterday's move to merge Apple's developer programs, the company has also rolled out new limits for registered devices. The total limit is now 500 devices, but it is broken down by device type with up to 100 slots each for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple Watch, and Apple TV devices now available.

But what's notable about these latest changes is that Apple TV is being mentioned more explicitly, and not only that, it's receiving the same number of test slots that developers get for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch — all products that run thousands of third-party applications.

If Apple isn't planning to open future Apple TV hardware to more apps, that 100 figure seems a bit excessive. The company could just be taking the easy route and giving the same 100 slots to every product, but for months rumors have swirled that Apple has greater ambitions for its living room device. A vastly improved remote control is also said to be in the works, and then there's that internet TV service we keep hearing about (another no-show at WWDC). We should know how all this adds up come fall, which is also when Apple Music will arrive on Apple TV after the streaming service debuts on iPhone and iPad later this month.

Verge Video: Apple's incremental changes at WWDC 2015