Updated Apple TV Due. But It’s Not What You Think.
It’s official. Apple has sent out invites this week to an event being held in San Francisco next Wednesday March the 7th. The event which is certainly going to be focused on the iPad 3 has been in the offing for a number of months, but in addition to the announcement of the iPad 3 it looks like the Apple TV will get a similar treatment but it’s not what you think.
Rumours of the iPad 3 gaining a retina display have been floating around since before the second iPad even existed. The likeliness of the iPad 3 popping up next week without a high-resolution display are hugely improbable. But the jump from a 1024 x 68 pixel display to one with a whopping 2048 x 1536 pixels creates all kinds of headaches. Beyond making the UI of apps look smooth and icons the correct resolution there are also issues with content. The maximum resolution of content on Apple’s own iTunes Store is 720p, that sure won’t look impressive on that super-high resolution display.
It now looks likely that an Apple TV refresh will also hit next week, it all makes sense really if we consider that the maximum output of the current Apple TV is capped at 720p and the internals are hardly anything impressive.
The Apple TV doesn’t stand on its own these days, in fact the small TV accessory is the perfect expansion of the iPad offering mirroring of the iPad’s display over a WiFi network, of course no TV will be able to mirror a 2048 x 1536 display but 1080p is a lot closer than what the current Apple TV has to muster.
Rumours have also circulated this week that the iPad 3 may see a modest price rise, this potentially owing to that amazing screen but also the powerful GPU that will be required to display smooth graphics. To help bring down those component prices Apple will have bought large quantities, it has the cash to do so with no trouble but it’ll also want to use up the stock. Whilst we know that 6 months down the line the net iPhone will pickup a lot of those internal parts it would be a no-brainer to pack them into the Apple TV too.
So this looks like it’ll be one of those standard product refreshes, the Apple TV will look largely similar and the insides will take on a hefty refresh; in this case taking on board the new GPU that the iPad 3 will use, most likely the PowerVR G6200/6400, and the new System on a Chip that will grace the insides of the iPad 3 and in future the iPhone 5. Debate on whether that will be dual- or quad-core CPU will rage on until we can pull it apart in the coming weeks.
From here things get interesting, 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman has written that internally a “mystery accessory” codenamed “B82″ has surfaced from his sources. With little reasoning as to why he has come up with this conjecture Gurman continues to write about a potential new remote for the Apple TV. From here it is definitely a guessing game, on the basis that we’ve heard not a hint of rumour from anyone apart from Jobs himself:
“I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” Jobs told Isaacson, “It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.”
“it will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”
Some will say that it’ll come as part of an iOS device, similar to Remote app. Others will say that it’ll be a form of Siri integration. To me both those ideas seem bonkers; not everyone (very far from in fact) own an iOS device and wouldn’t buy one just to use an Apple TV and if the day arrives where I’m shouting at a small black box sitting in my stack of shelves surrounded by cables and a set-top box with its fan whirring away.
If this magical new remote exists, and I say a big IF then I suspect it’ll be a beefed up version of the current remote but with a multi-touch display, how this would affect the $99 price tag of the Apple TV is anyone’s guess.
Fancy remote or not it’s looking likely, considering shrinking stocks worldwide, that we will see an Apple TV update next week followed by immediate availability.
Apple’s event kicks off at 10am Pacific time (1pm Eastern, 6pm London) on March 7.