Apple has just been granted a patent that it applied for 6 years ago that would allow them to turn the Apple TV into a cable box of sorts. This means instead of simply being able to stream content from iTunes, Netflix, and now Hulu, you'd be able to watch regular tv as well.
The US Patent and Trademark office today approved a patent that was originally filed back on October 12th, 2006. The patent describes a product simliar to what we know as today's Apple TV with one big addition - live TV and DVR capabilities.
The patent application, originally filed Oct. 12, 2006, has mock ups of screenshots with various TV programing, including CBS, ABC, FOX, and HBO. There are several screenshots depicting a Letterman segment and other popular shows. Another screenshot shows a list of recorded shows. The patent applications also has images of search and browse functions, so it seems like the new features will be fully integrated with the old system.
Even though Apple was granted the patent it doesn't necessarily mean they'll use it anytime in the near future or at all. While many of us may dream of a world without evil cable and satellite providers, whether or not that will eventually become a reality is anyone's guess.