I’ve been an Apple TV user since the second generation, thats nearly a massive 5 years. Over this time it has become an essential part of my digital and social life. Over this time as I became more and more dependant on the device, and the competition started to enter the market and innovate I longed for an Apple TV set top box to dazzle and suprise me. The 2012 refresh only included full 1080p HD support and improved guts.
So every time Apple throws a media event I cross everything in anticipation for a new and improved set top box. Finally, if reports are to be correct in just a of couple months we will finally get the Apple TV update myself and so many others have been waiting for.
So here are the 11 features I really hope to see.
- App Store and SDK, without an app store the new Apple TV will be laughable. A lot of what I hope for would most likely stem from this very feature, either from Apple or 3rd party developers. Which leads nicely into number 2.
- Games. Okay so games should really be included within the App store request. But hear me out, an App store would only function as a platform to distribute games. The real wish here is for developers to use iOS devices as gamepads. Proper Wii style gaming using the motion sensors in the iPhone and new iPads, or traditional gaming, mapping an entire game pad to the screens of users iOS devices. We’ve seen a glimpse of this with Airplay mirroring, but to really work the game needs to be ‘hosted’ on the TV and the iOS device a controller.
- A hub for our future smart home appliances. This feature has practically been confirmed by Apple, but with the release of a new Apple TV hopefully will would see more and more smart home devices supporting homekit and integrating into iOS and the Apple TV acting as centralised device. The concept of Apple TV acting as a hub is something I’m very excited for.
- A complete overhule of the OS and UI should really be at the top of this list, because if any of the features that I’ve listed come to light they would be almost unusable on the current Apple TV OS. Over the years the number of ‘Apps’ on the Apple TV have grown, there will need to be a intuitive way to search and discover all of the available content.
- An extension of the iPhone. Just like the upcoming Apple Watch will supplement the iPhone, why can’t the new Apple TV do the same. I admit for this to work, TV’s either need to have lighting fast start up times or society need to change habits and keep the TV on a lot more (Something I’m not sure I’d want to see). But imagine a feast of information displayed on the idle TV screen. First thing in the morning a beautiful weather forecast helps you plan ahead, important emails and reminders scrolling along the screen. Messages left from your partner, a few inspirational quotes and pictures from Instagram. Then after a day at work entering the home the proximity of your iPhone prompts the Apple TV to welcome you home, turn on the lights (See point 3) make you aware of any Facebook events you’ve been invited to during the day, top news stories and a summary of the number of steps taken for the day. The possibilities here are endless.
- Cord cutting solutions. Again almost a given. It will be interesting to see how Apple decides to offer premium live cable/satellite content over IP, and what packages will be available. The dream would be to pick and choose a selection of sports, Disney and National Geographic content, live or on demand – Oh and without any geo restrictions. We can only dream…
- Traditional free TV. Very unlikely as Apple will see the future in IP television. But it would be nice if we could plug our exsiting antenna into the Apple TV and enjoy traditional free to air TV inside a beautiful Apple TV OS wrapper and with built in PVR functionality, alike to the Xbox One.
- 4K support, YouTube and Netflix content can both be consumed in the new higher definition format, its only a matter of time before iTunes, WWE Network and other content provides start pumping 4K down the internet. Its only right that we can view the beautiful pictures via an Apple TV. However if reports are to be believed this might not be part of Apple’s game plan.
- FaceTime, so like gaming this has been possible to achieve using AirPlay mirroring. But to see FaceTime and iMessage natively installed on the Apple TV would be a great feature. Being able to sit around the TV and video chat with friends and family around the world. For an added wow factor allow all iOS devices connected to the Apple TV to act as cameras, then you’ve got a multi camera webcast with loved ones far away, almost feeling like they are in the room controlling the view they want.
- Media hub. Currently if I want to listen or watch anything from my iTunes library I have to boot up my iMac start iTunes and then stream the content to the Apple TV. This should be the other way around, the media should just be local to the Apple TV, cutting the need for my iTunes library on a computer. Yet agin this is an idea putting the Apple TV as a central point. If I’m working on my computer I can still listen to music but its powered from the Apple TV, likewise if I’m chilling on my iPad in the garden I can stream a movie from the Apple TV. Take it one step further and at night all the iOS devices are syncing and backing up through the Apple TV, updates only need to be downloaded once and then transferred to each iOS device on the local network.
- Never going to happen HDD / NAS support, of course if the above wish became a reality sooner or later we all need some additional storage. Plugging in a USB hard drive wouldn’t be a very Apple ‘it just works’ approach. But I’m sure a lot of people would happily purchase an AirPort Extreme to host all of their media thats connected directly to an Apple TV media hub…
Tell me what you think, which feature would you like to see from my list? Maybe there is something not in the list you would rather see, let me know in the comments.