Here's our round-up of the latest Apple Television rumours, including iTV concept photos and feature speculation. Read our Apple Television release date, rumours, and pictures article to find out more about what to expect from Apple's rumoured venture into the living room.
Speculation about an Apple Television set has been circulating for several years, but the product has yet to surface. However, it is widely believed that Apple will launch a product in an attempt to take over the TV market as it has the MP3 player, smartphone and tablet markets. Whether that product is an actual television set or a significantly upgraded Apple TV box is a widely debated topic, so we've gathered the evidence and arguments into one place.
(Image credit: Martin Hajek)
What Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have said about an Apple television
The firmest evidence that Apple is working on a television came from Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs himself. Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that: “He very much wanted to do for television what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.”
“'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.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest use interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has also spoken about television on a number of occasions. In an interview at D11 in May 2013 the Apple CEO said the following about TV: "I think many of us would agree that there's lots of things about the TV experience that can be better, we answered some of those, clearly not all of those, with Apple TV, and we're going to continue to make that better," promised Cook.
He added: "When you look at the TV experience it's not an experience that I think may people love, it's not an experience that you would say has been brought up to date for this decade. It's still an experience that is still too much like it was ten years ago and in many cases 20 years ago. "
Cook hinted that Apple is testing the television market through the Apple TV set-top box, saying during the D11 conference that: "We're still playing in TV through Apple TV. I don't remember where we were last year, but let me give you a little bit of an update here, for several years we've been selling a few hundred thousand, we've now sold over 13 million, and about half of those in the last year."
Cook continued: "That business has found many, many more customers that love the Apple TV experience. That has been great for customers but also very good from a learning point of view for Apple."
This wasn't the first time Tim Cook had made a broad hint about a forthcoming Apple TV. During a February 2012 keynote at Goldman Sachs he said: "I wouldn't want to go into detail about future stuff, obviously… Apple doesn't do hobbies, as a general rule. We believe in focus and only working on a few things. With Apple TV, however, despite the barriers in that market, for those of us who use it, we've always thought there was something there. And that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling the string, then we might find something that was larger. For those people that have it right now, the customer satisfaction is off the charts. But we need something that could go more main market for it to be a serious category."
Cook also revealed details about Apple and television in a couple of interviews in December 2012. He refused to outline any specific details, but did talk in length about the general design process at Apple, claiming that there is 'intense interest' in designing a good Apple Television. This 10 Apple Television facts that Tim Cook revealed article covers much of Cook's interview and how it relates to the Apple Television.
Cook also revealed that Apple has “some incredible things coming out,” and spent some time talking about the television business at D10 last year. Cook referred to the existing Apple TV set top box, described for years as a ‘hobby product’ for Apple, and hinting that there may be more potential. He also noted that, for many people, television is “an area in their life that they’re not pleased with” and suggested that Apple will “keep pulling this string and see where it takes us.”
And if they do keep pulling the strings, Apple will aim to make a “significant contribution far beyond what others have done in this area,” said Cook.
So Apple IS going to launch something amazing in the television market, but the question is when, and what?
Apple iTV Television release date rumours
A number of analysts have been pretty vocal about when they expect an Apple Television to launch, read on for more information...
2014 could be the year of the Apple Television
Analysts and industry watchers have been predicting the announcement of an Apple television set for years, often claiming that the launch is imminent only for months to pass with no sign of the television from Apple.
For example, many analysts were convinced that Apple would unveil an Apple television, or at least the smart TV’s operating system, at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2013, but were left disappointed when the event came and went with not sign of such product.
Perhaps the biggest Apple Television talker is Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who's remained a firm believer that Apple will launch a television since 2009. In fact, he's predicted an Apple Television every year since 2011.
Even Munster is getting a little embarrassed now. In November 2013, he took to the stage at the Business Insider IGNITION conference to claim that he had spoken to sources in Apple's supply chain who say that Apple is working on its own television. He says the reason we've still yet to see an Apple television is all down to content. It's widely believed that Apple keeps hitting a brick wall with media companies that won't settle on a content agreement for an Apple television.
During the presentation, he made a dig at himself by displaying a slide that read:
2009 – "Apple will launch a television by 2011" – Gene Munster
2011 – "Apple will launch a television by 2012" – Gene Munster
2012 – "Don't buy a TV today because Apple will launch one in 2013" – Gene Munster
2013 – "….." Gene Munster
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek believed that the Apple Television would launch in 2013, after apparently spotting 'iTV' prototypes "floating around". However, he later changed his mind (rightly so, as no Apple Television arrived in 2013), and decided that the Apple Television will launch sometime in 2014. The reason for the 'delay' appears to be that Apple wants to a 4K/Ultra HD-style display without the high cost, said Misek.
Misek now says: "We had thought that Apple's software and ecosystem would be enough to drive demand but our checks indicate that Apple wants the hardware to also stand out. We believe Apple wants a display that looks like 4K/Ultra HD but without the super-premium cost."
Despite most reports now pointing to a 2014 launch, November 2013 saw the release of a report from NPD DisplaySearch that said Apple is pushing back the launch of its Apple Television to 2015 or 2016, while it focuses on its iWatch smartwatch for this year.
Wedge Partners Senior Research analyst Brian Blair told Bloomnerg on 15 January this year that there's no evidence in the supply chain to suggest that an Apple Television is coming this year, but said that there is evidence to support the wearable tech rumours.
What will Apple call its television?
There has been no solid conclusion about what Apple will call its television. There is already an Apple TV, the set-top box that bridges the gap between the internet and a standard television set.
One theory is that the rumoured iWatch – the name given to the theoretical Apple smartwatch – could actually be the name of the Apple television.
How much will the Apple television cost?
Munster found that if the price tag is more than $1,500 (around £900), as many experts have estimated, then more than 75 per cent of US consumers may not be willing to part with their cash.
Analysts say, and history suggests, that Apple's iTV will sell at the high end of the market. It will use the best components - the best screen, the best materials, and the best microphones (for voice recognition).
By comparison, most Smart TVs on sale now average at less than £2,009, but Samsung's recently launched 55in Curved TV is on the market for £6,999.99. We expect that the Apple Television will have a price tag higher than £900.
What the web says about Apple Television
A number of people have made comments about the Apple TV, from ex Apple employees to key technology websites.
In September 2011, Jean-Louis Gassée, a former president of Apple’s products division, said that an Apple television has ‘got to happen’.
Also in 2011, Bloomberg reported that three insiders with “knowledge of the project” confirmed that Jeff Robbin, the software engineer who built iTunes, is guiding development of the Apple television.
During the summer of 2011, a former Apple executive, who spoke only on the condition that he remain anonymous, confirmed that “the company’s biggest upcoming product launch” would be its entry into the flat-screen television market, and would “blow Netflix and all those other guys away.”
In August 2012, ex-Apple CEO John Sculley said that the television market is 'Apple's game to lose,' and that the success of the iPhone, iPad and Mac will give the company an edge in trying to take over the living room.
Also in August 2012, the Wall Street Journal suggested that Apple has changed its mind about making a television set, and is instead focusing on taking over the living room with an advanced set-top-box that will 'erase the distinction between live and on-demand TV'.
This theory has since been widely adopted by many Apple watchers, and seems like a more realistic option for the company, at least to begin with. Find out more about what to expect from future iterations of the Apple TV in our Apple TV rumour round-up.
However, in December 2012 the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was "in the early stages of testing" an Apple Television set, citing unnamed sources (presumed to be working for Foxconn).
Evidence that Apple is working on a television: hires & acquisitions
Other evidence that indicates that TV is, as Apple CEO Tim Cook said: "An area of intense interest for Apple" comes in the form of various hires and acquisitions by the company.
In July 2013 it emerged that Apple hired Hulu senior VP of Marketing and Distribution Pete Distad. Distad's role is be to negotiate future media deals, according to Bloomberg. That report claims that Distard led Hulu's push to make its app available on web-connected devices, including Apple TV. The Hulu Plus service is available to Apple TV owners in the US, it is a subscription TV service that provides content from ABC, NBC, Fox, the CW and Univision and costs $7.99 a month.
Back in February 2013 news that Apple had hired LG's OLED expert, who just happened to work for Samsung once-upon-a-time, emerged. James (Jueng-jil) Lee was a senior researcher at LG who had been working on creating a printed AMOLED TV (organic light-emitting diode) based television display, according to The OLED Association. Lee is "no doubt more knowledgeable about OLEDs that any of Apple's current staff, which is known to be quite strong," the Association suggests.
The acquisition of video discovery start-up Matcha.tv by Apple in August 2013 stirred up further speculation about Apple's TV plans. Matcha.tv was an iOS app that aimed to help users discover content by providing an overview of everything that is available to watch across a variety of services including Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Prime and more.
Matcha.tv also had a social aspect, which would let you see what your friends have been watching, a recommendation service and the ability to manage the content you've been watching from a universal queue.
Matcha's service could provide a valuable addition to the current Apple TV set-top box and/or a future Apple Television.
Another exciting Apple acquisition is PrimeSense, the Israeli company behind the 3D sensor technology in Microsoft's Kinect. The acquisition of PrimeSense could open up new possibilities for future Apple devices. The company's 3D sensor technology could be used in an updated version of the Apple TV or an Apple Television, for example, to enable users to interact using gestures.
Other evidence that Apple will launch a television
Apple is believed to have had its eye on LG Display as its TV panel supplier, and was predicted to start mass producing the components by the end of 2013 ahead of a projected early 2014 launch. LG Display or Sharp may supply 55in and 65in Ultra HD TV panels for a future Apple television set.
Apple’s primary manufacturing partner Foxconn’s interest in shares of display maker Sharp in June 2013 also fuelled rumours about the Apple television set.
A report suggests that Foxconn is readying its factories for a major push into television manufacture, in an effort to be less reliant on Apple. Foxconn already has a number of TV assembly clients, including Sony, Sharp and Toshiba. In addition, last year Foxconn spent around $840 million when it joined forces with Sharp to purchase Sharp's LCD panel factory in Sakai, Japan.
There are rumours that Corning could make Gorilla Glass for the TV screen. A quick look at Corning's website shows that the company is involved in TV: "By supporting the sleek, ultra-thin seamless designs that are a popular trend in today’s LCD TV industry, Corning Gorilla Glass is literally changing the face of LCD TV," it says.
Apple Television specs
Aside from the obvious (you’ll be able to watch TV on it), it is expected that the Apple television will be high-definition, and could have FaceTime and AirPlay capabilities, seamless Siri integration, and built-in motion controlled games console, more on that below.
The size of the Apple Television
The Apple Television is rumoured to be between 42-60in in size. Several experts have tried to predict the size of the Apple television, and many of the views have been conflicting. In 2011, a report claimed that the smart TV would come in three different sizes, including 32in and 55in models.
Topeka Capital Market's Brian White said back in April 2013 that the so-called iTV will have a screen that measures 60 inches diagonally, but there could also be 50- and 55in versions of the television.
White also claimed that the iTV will come with tablet-like "mini iTVs" the size of Apple's 9.7in iPad. The main iTV will be able to wirelessly stream media to these smaller screens, which users could place around their home.
CEO of the online video publishing platform Brightcove Jeremy Allaire blogged Apple TV would feature a gorgeous display, an A7 quad-core CPU for graphics and gaming, front-facing motion sensors and camera, and enough storage for games, apps, content, and recorded live TV.
It will also have a couple of Lightning ports - one for power and the other for a "coax dongle" that would accommodate your cable or satellite feed, and erase the need for a set-top box from your service provider, he suggested.
The Apple television could combine the screen and display glass, as it has done with the iMac 2012 model, to create an ultra-thin display.
Will Apple's Television have a 4K Retina display?
Apple's TV is expected to have an ultra-high definition display with a screen resolution that meets the 4K UHD standard. 4K provides four times as much resolution as High-Definition video (3,840 pixels by 2,160 pixels). The technology became more famous following film director Peter Jackson's decision to film The Hobbit movie using 4K technology, and since then, many 4K TVs and monitors have launched, and the Mac Pro now has support for the resolution.
"The 4K resolution would be a logical build choice, whereas 3D would probably not be," IDC senior research analyst Linn Huang says.
4K would also enable Apple to brand the Apple Television as a Retina Display device, and provide ultra high definition gaming, FaceTime Communication, and movies.
Apple is also rumoured to be shopping for an IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) display for its Apple iTV television. These allow for resolutions higher than the current crop of HDTV displays.
Apple Television controls: gesture and motion control
Reports suggests that an Apple Television with gesture control features similar to Microsoft's Kinect is in production already.
Topeka Capital Market's Brian White believes the Apple TV will come with a small 'iRing' device that fits onto the users' finger to allow them to control the screen by pointing and using gestures, he said, claiming that the product will "revolutionise the TV experience forever."
It is also believed that the simple interface Jobs refers to in Isaacson’s biography will be based around voice controls, similar to Siri, the iPhone's voice-activated personal assistant.
So, for example, users might be able to say: ‘Play the last episode of Supernatural,’ or ‘play me McFly’s new music video’ and the voice assistant will do just that.
Apple wouldn’t be the first to introduce voice control features: last year LG, Samsung and Lenovo all started to introduce interactive features to their televisions, allowing users to search for shows and applications with voice commands.
Apple's Television patents
Apple has filed a number of patents that give some clues to its TV plans.
Sound and audio
In a patent application published in February 2013, Apple describes a sound system that could be launched as part of Apple's iTV. The intelligent system could determine where a user is in a room, and if they are not within the optimum range, the processor could modify the audio output, says the application. It could also adjust based on which way the user is facing, and the environment that the user is in.
Apple says that the invention could take the form of a system for providing an enhanced audio experience for laptop, tablet, smartphone, and television users, for example.
Apple's patent also explains that an image processing unit within the audio system could use face recognition and eye tracking to also help improve audio quality during FaceTime calls, enabling the microphone to be directed towards the speaker's mouth automatically.
In 2012, Apple was granted a patent that describes technology that could swap in a different stream of video during a commercial break.
We wrote about that Apple television related patent at the time. The patent described a way for “seamless switching between radio and local media” and lets users switch between broadcast content and locally stored media when content that doesn’t interest them is playing. Surprisingly, commercials are listed as one of these types of content that can be replaced by stored media.
Relating to the patent, a report that Apple wants to offer a television service that lets people skip adverts appeared in July.
The company is proposing a system by which it pays media companies when viewers skip commercials, according to the Wall Street Journal's Jessica Lessin. Apple's premium television service would be offered to customers at a price. A hypothetical Apple television service would be able to skip ads, while the networks would be recompensed for those missed commercials.
Apple's television gesture control patent
Apple has been granted television patent, described by some as “extraordinary,” “wild” and “crazy”, that covers a television that uses 5D technology, interactive gaming, video conferencing, advanced tactile feedback technology, virtual reality gloves, and a unique touch signature that could be used to start a car, for example.
In a method similar to that found in the Kinect or Wii, Apple has covered sensors that could be used to determine human or object position in its patent. These sensors could be built into a television set to allow human interaction, and are not limited to one object or just the overall location of an object, but could be expanded to detect gestures and movements. This indicates that Apple may include interactive gaming in its television set, and may eliminate the need for a remote control.
To add even more virtual control, the user may use “data gloves” that can provide the computer with finger and joint positions. This can enable the human to rotate objects shown on a screen by using gestures.
Yes, this is completely Minority Report and probably unlikely to arrive with the first generation of Apple Television.
Apple Television features and interface
Few would disagree that Apple could make a better user interface for TV content than the cable companies and current bunch of TV manufacturers. But what will the killer features of the Apple Television be? There are predictions that Apple will bring Bluetooth compatibility, Siri and gaming to its Apple TV and more.
Finding the shows you want to watch on the Apple Television
The purchase of Matcha.TV has led to speculation that the company will help Apple come up with an interface that makes finding the programme you want to watch easier. One barrier for consumers is figuring out on which of the many OnDemand sites you can stream or buy the show you want to watch.
Even the Apple TV's simple interface could benefit from a central clearinghouse where users could quickly determine which of the many icons on the screen is the key to the latest episodes of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. Such a service could help shift the Apple TV from being just another television accessory towards becoming an entry portal for video consumption.
As more networks and content providers appear on the Apple TV, the grid-of-icons interface becomes increasingly unwieldy for would-be watchers.
FaceTime on the Apple Television
Tim Cook, in his interview with NBC in December, hinted that FaceTime will be the Apple Television's killer feature.
What content will be available on Apple Television?
Apple's TV plans will include more than an actual television, the company will want to be able to offer content too. However, there are reports that Apple is facing problems coming to agreements with the networks.
One of the main problems for Apple is attempting to come to an agreement with media companies - TV providers are against giving technology companies control over the television's user interface, Bloomberg reported in 2012. “It’s a tough problem because the cable companies and media companies are not very enthusiastic about the prospect of Apple creating a better user interface,” Walter Price, an investor with RCM Capital Management, told Bloomberg.
Reports towards the end of August 2013 suggested that Apple has been negotiating directly with TV content providers, rather than cable companies, as part of a new strategy that aims to enable the company to launch its widely speculated Apple Television product. Apple is said to be talking with production studios and networks including ESPN, HBO, Viacom, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, in a bid to convince them to provide content for an Apple television set that would emphasise apps over cable TV.
Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue joined CEO Tim Cook at the conference. Cue's attendance could signify a focus on deals surrounding the Apple TV or the company's rumoured 'iTV' television.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal in August 2012, Apple has been speaking with US cable operators about the possibility of allowing customers to use an Apple device with set-top-box functionality to watch live television and access other content. This device could ultimately be integrated into a television set, revealed two of WSJ's sources, who said: "Apple has worked on prototypes of televisions in the past."
Content Apple already offers on the Apple TV
Apple TV currently offers UK users access to Netflix, Sky News, Bloomberg, Sky Sports (via Now TV), MLB.TV, NBA, NHL, WSJ Live, YouTube, Vevo, Vimeo, Qello, flickr, Crunchroll, Korean TV alongside the iTunes content.
In February, news that the HBO Go app would be coming to the Apple TV in the US sparked speculation that similar deals could see Apple offer Sky Go, BBC iPlayer, 4OD and other on-demand apps on the Apple TV in the UK. Then in June, Apple announced several new additions to its Apple TV, including Sky News sparking speculation that on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer could be coming to the Apple TV soon.
Recording on the Apple Television
According to the Wall Street Journal report, a DVR version of the Apple TV would let customers store TV shows in the cloud to be watched when they like. It would also allow users to access the TV shows they had recorded on the iPhone or iPad.
Such a facility would turn the Apple TV into more than a mere streaming device and increase the content available to users. However, it has been reported that one of the major hang-ups is resistance by content providers to give Apple maker permission to make their programming available in this way.
Apple Television images
While there are no leaked images of an Apple Television yet, there are some concept images that have emerged on the web, as shown below.
(Image credit: Martin Hajek)