Read next: The Apple TV review.
The world is expecting Apple to show off its next round of iPhones next month, but as reported in July, we could also be seeing something else on stage in September — the new Apple TV set-top box. According to a new report from 9to5Mac, the new model — codenamed J34 — will run a TV-optimized version of iOS 9 on a full-blown iOS core, and will come with Siri support, an App Store, a new remote control, more storage, an SDK for developers, and a range of other new features.
Apple was set to reveal the box in June
It was previously believed that Apple would lift the lid on its new TV hardware and software at June's WWDC event, but after the announcement failed to come, it was reported that the company was having difficulty hammering out deals with content providers. However, according to 9to5Mac, the delay was not the result of those stalled deals, but down to an an internal concern that pushing out a launch would compromise engineering resources required for iOS 9. The company reportedly decided to postpone the announcement until September to allow its engineers to polish iOS 9, building an operating system that would feel slick on a phone or tablet, but would also be optimized for the TV screen.
Update: Read the Apple iOS 9 review.
When it does arrive, 9to5Mac says the new Apple TV will boast a new slimmer design, revamped from the previous five-year-old model. It will also ship with a larger remote control that features tactile keys, in addition to support for touch- and gesture-based inputs. Files found inside the recent OS X 10.11 El Capitan developer betas suggest the remote will use both Bluetooth and infrared, and will have a form of audio technology built-in. 9to5Mac speculates that the audio could be used for private listening, for a microphone used to talk to Siri, or potentially to augment the sound of your TV — perhaps as the PlayStation 4's Dualshock 4 controller or the Wii's Wiimote do currently with small speakers producing complementary sounds.
The set-top box will likely feature a dedicated App Store
Apple TV's Siri integration will reportedly be paired with iOS 9's new Proactive function. Detailed at WWDC, Proactive can offer app and search suggestions based on context-sensitive information, such as time of day or location. Apple TV may use Proactive to let you search for shows, movies, or games across a range of apps and services, but 9to5Mac says Apple may wait until the hardware hosts more third-party apps before rolling it out. A full SDK for the creation of those apps will be available, and they'll likely be featured on a dedicated Apple TV App Store, as suggested in June. This could open the door to a range of apps and games to become available through the set-top box, but Apple is reportedly focusing on video apps for now, allowing creators to build channels and release them at their own pace.
The new Apple TV set-top box will reportedly also come with general technological improvements, including more storage, a faster processor, and a revamped user interface, but as reported earlier this month, won't launch with Apple's planned internet TV service. Bloomberg says that the service, designed as a replacement for cable TV, won't see release until at least 2016. Apple is reportedly still at loggerheads with TV networks over pricing, but the company has also yet to invest enough in its network to maintain a good viewing experience for all customers, and the launch could be pushed back even further.