Next Generation Apple TV References Found in iOS 5, But When?

One of the most common Buyer's Guide related question we get asked is "Is it a good time to buy an Apple TV?"

We've never tracked the Apple TV in our buyers guide because it's a product that seems to have no regular release cycle. Apple maintains that the Apple TV is a "hobby" project, and that attitude shows in its infrequent update cycle. The Apple TV is unique in that it is more of a living room appliance whose primary purpose is to play iTunes content on your television. As a result, as long as the Apple TV can play all present iTunes content, there's no compelling reason for Apple to offer a major hardware upgrade.


The Apple TV has only seen two major hardware revisions during its lifetime. First was the original launch back in 2007 and the second was September 2010 when Apple released a smaller iOS-based version. We noted in June that iOS 5 opened the door to a true 1080p-capable Apple TV, but no evidence of such a device had been seen.

9to5Mac has now spotted a reference to a yet-unreleased "AppleTV3,1" in the latest version of iOS 5. This suggests that Apple is working on a next generation Apple TV in its labs. The previous models have carried the codenames "AppleTV1,1" and "AppleTV2,1".

A new Apple TV could integrate Apple's new A5 processor, which offers much faster graphics processing, and include true 1080p support. But unless Apple plans on offering 1080p content on iTunes, that feature would be of limited use to the majority of consumers. Fortunately, Apple has been rumored to be prepping movie studios to start submitting 1080p content to iTunes.

We should note that when previous iPhone references have been found in iOS releases, we've seen a lead time of up to 15 months. So, an imminent release is not guaranteed.

Software evidence of Apple's future devices tends to appear rather early in the development process, as evidenced by iPhone3,1 appearing in iPhone OS configuration files in March 2009. That device turned out to be the iPhone 4, released 15 months later.

We also suspect that any new Apple TV may run up against Apple's future plans for television. There have been persistent rumors that Apple could be taking on the TV market at some point in the near future. The NYTimes revisited this speculation in the days following Steve Jobs' death.

But many in the tech industry contend that television is ripe for technological makeover, and that the next big challenge for Apple, after the death of Mr. Jobs, is likely to be in that area.

Last year, NYTimes' said that Apple was in negotiations over a new television subscription service but ultimately failed.

So, we can't be certain when Apple might be launching a new ApplebTV, but believe it would be tied to other offerings, either 1080p HD iTunes content or another television initiative altogether.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 14
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
118 months ago
Apple TV may be the "hobby" at Apple HQ, but around my house it's essential! Being new parents, we skipped the summer blockbuster season... and now Apple TV plus iTunes means every week or so this fall has been summer movie night on the big TV. Similarly, Netflix, AirPlay, baby photos off the Mac as a screensaver... no hobby device here.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
118 months ago
Surely the app store will be coming to ATV!!! Its begging for apps!!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
118 months ago

But unless Apple plans on offering 1080p content on iTunes, that feature would be of limited use to the majority of consumers.

Why say this? Why continue to feed the perception of it as a one-dimensional product (only content from the iTunes store is applicable)? For the majority of consumers the first source of content for iTunes was NOT the iTunes store but ripping their own CD collection.

With :apple:TV, content is sourced from many places other than the iTunes store. For example, an iPhoto collection probably has NO photos "purchased" from the iTunes store, yet they flow to the home TV via :apple:TV.

Ripping a DVD collection is far from the simplicity of ripping a CD collection, but it can be done... and is done... to make the personal movie collection readily available on the home TV via :apple:TV (no iTunes store link required).

Almost every decent camera and any camcorder can shoot video. Apple provides tools (like iMovie) to edit that video. Renders from iMovie can go right into iTunes. Those will easily play on :apple:TV too. Personally, I have our whole home (family) movie collection in iTunes and readily available on :apple:TV (none of that came from the iTunes store).

Now, good cameras, iPhones and most HD camcorders shoot 1080p video. iMovie will edit & render that in 1080 too. It will go right into iTunes as 1080 content too. It just can't get from iTunes to the HDTV as a 1080p stream (the current model down converts it 720p). It is the ONE weak link in this Apple chain.

The point is that there are abundant (and legal) sources of content for :apple:TV besides the iTunes store. It is not just a device through which to buy or rent content from there (even Apple agrees by adding other sources like Netflix support, airplay, etc).

I think it makes great sense to launch an 1080p capable :apple:TV BEFORE there is 1080p content in the iTunes store. The hardware must lead. Until there is lots of 1080p :apple:TVs in homes, there is no way for any studio to even test the profit potential of 1080p content for :apple:TVs in the iTunes store.

Get the hardware going into homes and the software can follow. Between the time those 1080p :apple:TVs start going into homes and when some Studio decides to test 1080p content, the :apple:TV3 will still play all existing content to it's fullest potential, much like quad core hardware in Macs can still run software coded for single core hardware. Lead with the hardware and the software owners will be tempted to exploit that newer hardware (it doesn't work the other way).

Personally, I'm very encouraged by this new discovery. Hopefully, it's not another 4-year delay for the next round of new hardware. I've got 4+ years of 1080HD video shot on camcorders begging for a native Apple solution that doesn't involve downconversion to 720p. And for my own situation, I could care less if there is ever 1080p content for rent or sale in the iTunes store.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
118 months ago
Now that Steve's gone, who is going to pursuade the networks to lower their prices for Apple's TV subscription efforts?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
118 months ago
New hardware should not be necessary for App Store support, however.

That being said, the greater graphics processing power of the A5 would be beneficial for gaming in addition to 1080p playback.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
118 months ago

Apple TV with Siri ? :cool:

.

Yup, that's what I was thinking too. The one way that Apple could create a TV that no one else can copy is to make it voice-enabled and to eliminate the need for a remote control. This would be awesome for me to not have to explain to my parents how to operate my TV/Stereo system for the 1000th time (no exaggeration). Imagine...

"Play some jazz music"

"Make a slideshow of photos from my trip to China"

"Turn on NPR"

"I want to play a video game"

"What are the most recently release movies?"

"I want to watch the next Yankees game"
Siri: "Sorry, there are no Yankees games in the next 6 months..." :D;)
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

Google Reportedly Pays Apple $8-12 Billion Per Year to be Default iOS Search Engine

Sunday October 25, 2020 2:59 pm PDT by
The United States Justice Department is targeting a lucrative deal between Apple and Google as part of one of the U.S. government's largest antitrust cases, reports The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the Mountain View-based company used anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and advertising markets to ...

iPhone 12 Pro Allows You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly Using LiDAR Scanner

Saturday October 24, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality experiences, but the sensor also enables another unique feature: the ability to measure a person's height instantly using the Measure app. You can even measure the seated height of a person in a chair, according to Apple. When the Measure app detects a person in the viewfinder, it automatically measures their...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

iPhone 12 Six-Foot Drop Test Results: Ceramic Shield More Durable But Not Damage Proof

Monday October 26, 2020 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro feature a new Ceramic Shield screen that Apple says offers 4x better drop performance. To test that claim, Allstate Protection Plans put the two models through a range of breakability tests and recorded the results. In a face down sidewalk drop test at six feet, the iPhone 12 suffered small cracks and scuffed corners and edges, leaving sharp grooves in ...

Bloomberg: New AirPods and AirPods Pro Coming in 2021, AirPods Studio Delayed, Third HomePod Model Also Possible

Monday October 26, 2020 3:34 am PDT by
Apple plans to update its AirPods line next year with two new models including third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on two new models: third-generation entry-level AirPods and the second version of the AirPods Pro earbuds, according to people familiar with the plans. ...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...