Old Steve Jobs email brainstorms logical next-steps for Apple TV including apps, 'magic wand' controller

Old Steve Jobs email brainstorms logical next-steps for Apple TV including apps, 'magic wand' controller

An email from Steve Jobs to the 2010 incarnation of the Apple 100 gathering — their annual, confidential strategy meeting — outlines pretty much what you'd expect to see as discussion points for a next-generation Apple TV. Apps are front and center, as is a version of the Safari web browser, and a 'magic wand' that likely refers to a gesture based remote control (think Wii-mote). The Verge:

"Where do we go from here?" says one of the bullet points, followed by "apps, browser" and "magic wand?" as possible options. However, those suggestions could be just be riffing. In testimony in a San Jose court earlier today, marketing chief Phil Schiller noted that items from this email were just an outline, and not necessarily set in stone for the confab. That includes mention of 2011 being the "holy war with Google." In this case, the Apple TV 2 presentation is described as an opportunity to discuss the the company's plans to "stay in the living room game and make a great 'must have' accessory for iOS devices."

Four years later it's probably safe to assume those plans, if they were ever serious, have been refined and changed and turned upside down and back again at least a few times. However, a Game Store, if not an App Store proper, makes a lot of sense. Apple has already shown they understand the power of the platform and extending it from desktop and mobile to television would only make the entire ecosystem more valuable.

You can already AirPlay browsers to the Apple TV but it probably wouldn't hurt to have Safari proper there. That is if they could figure out a great 10-foot interface for it. And a controller...

The iPhone and the iPad are already great multitouch, motion-aware controllers but they cost hundreds of dollars each and Wi-Fi just takes too long to spool up (and if it didn't would take too much power to keep connected). I don't know if a 'magic wand' would be the best replacement, but as the Apple TV gets more sophisticated that little aluminium stick will need to keep pace.

So what do you think? Four years later are apps, a browser, and magic wand what the Apple TV needs?

Source: The Verge

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Win a new Apple TV contest! Because, unlike FireTV, it's available internationally!

Next up →

Deal of the Day: Incipio Feather Hard Case for iPad mini

Reader comments

Old Steve Jobs email brainstorms logical next-steps for Apple TV including apps, 'magic wand' controller


Personally I think a confidential email like this being made public is embarrassing for Apple. I can only imagine what the comments section is like at The Verge, Engadget, Cnet, etc. I question whether this trial is really worth it anymore.

It's showing what the trial really is about, and patents aren't it. It's crazy what is going to be exposed and everyone to see how apple really wants first and foremost to stifle innovation, just to save themselves.

Sent from the iMore App

I agree this email will be a bag of hurt. And this trial stopped being worth it awhile ago. This is almost reminiscent of the MS & Apple patent wars of the 80's / 90's. No amount of extra legal wrangling will help Apple win back any potential revenue or market share that they lost due to Samsung's copying.

The general public does not care one way or another about this lawsuit or who wins. Apple is better off taking all the money they spend on lawyers and spending it on R&D.

As a Canadian Rene you know how poor the Apple TV is outside of America. An app store would change all that, and could bring games along for the ride. Amazon have just raised the bar for this class of device (well, in one country anyway), so Apple will have to respond sooner rather than later. They can't pretend Amazon don't exist, as they do Roku.

I would also imagine the next Fire TV may well include a Tegra K1, which brings a level of GPU performance ahead of the Xbox 360 and PS3. Not too shabby for a mobile chip, and streets ahead of any GPU Apple is currently using.

I agree: it WOULD hurt to get the Safari app up there without proper interface and controller.
Airplay mirroring it from an iDevice is the best solution I've seen so far, for the in-home experience that is.

I'm curious what the next step will be.
One can argue that the apps, browser and magic wand (an aluminum stick) are already there in some form.

I'd say more powerful Apple TV apps can be great, but iDevice apps that are 'Made for TV' cooperating with their TV counterpart, connecting these devices seamlessly can be even greater. (The same goes for wearables + iDevice too btw.)

Oh and the aluminum stick needs to get Bluetooth low energy. If there's one thing I miss after going from Boxee to Apple TV (years ago) it's zapping my TV from behind my Snuggie.
Don't make me move my hand so much. It's been at work all day, it needs rest.
It's the reason why gesture based TV zapping won't work: the simple remote is the path of least resistance (so far).

First, just as a point of interest, a careful reading of the email shows that back in 2010 Apple had a 'HDMI dongle' sufficiently advanced Jobs considered using it for meeting presentations. That's how long Apple has been playing with TV gadgets like Google's Chromecast.

So, they have been biding their time and not tipping their hands, but they obviously have something seriously innovative in the works.

My own guess would be a significantly more powerful Apple TV 3 (maybe even the A7 chip) to facilitate visually complex games streamed from Apple servers. Instead of a magic wand, the control would be a modified trackpad, capable of sensing fingers as they approach and displaying them on the TV as translucent 'ghost fingers'. No need to look at the controls, just watch the TV and proceed as if the trackpad were an iPad. Same controls.

Apple recently patented a bi-modal trackpad, hit a switch and it is a trackpad, hit another, and it is a type-on-glass keyboard. This could be the primary device for finding video content as well, type queries, or used the built-in microphone. It would also be handy for controlling a modified Safari browser. And it that browser could access iCloud.com, workaholics could check stuff like the iWork suite.

The Apple TV already supports Bluetooth keyboards, so supporting such a trackpad as the Apple TV's controller would be no stretch.

Well Rene, you did after all ask for speculative comment.

I like this and because I like this it would be nice to see articles from you on flipboard. you have the best sense of the dream where we found Steve Jobs. He was a find a way to do that kind of person. thank you. md

My WiFi is not too slow, and I use it all the time to control Apple TV from my iPhone. On top of that, Apple's wireless keyboard connects to Apple TV via Bluetooth and does a fine job. Name a controller that's better than any of these.