What would you like to see in a next-gen Apple TV? [Poll]

The Apple TV was last updated back in the spring of 2012, gaining support for 1080p video. Flash forward 18 months and a lot of people are asking if Apple is going to update it again this year, this month, at the October 22 event. So, we're asking - what would you want to see in a 3rd generation update?

4K video (2160p) is on the horizon, but there's not a lot of content for it yet, and not many people have the download speeds or bandwidth to really make use of it yet. H.265 could help there, but it still seems more like the future than the present. A FaceTime camera would be interesting for families and conference rooms alike, but could it be integrated in a manner that fits Apple's demands for function and form? More channels are always possible, including networks and more sports, including NFL. Apple has added channels without hardware updates in the past, however, and could easily do so again. A software developer kit (SDK) and an Apple TV App Store could be interesting, and would require new hardware, but it would interfere with Apple's existing channel partner program, and doesn't seem to be getting a lot of attention lately. Cable passthrough, DVR functionality, and other traditional TV technology seem not only plagued by regionalism, but smack of the past and not the future. And built-in Blu-Ray still seems a bag of hurt.

So what do you think? If Apple takes the Apple TV to version 3, what should the bullet points be? What would make it a compelling update? Vote up top and give me the details in the comments below!

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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+.

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Reader comments

What would you like to see in a next-gen Apple TV? [Poll]


Pretty sure the 'App Store' will be the blow away winner here, lol. There's a ton of untapped potential there and I dunno what Apple is waiting for. 4K is irrelevant seeing how some ISP's choke your internet off just trying to grab anything over a 1GB file, never mind a 4K sized file and a Blu-Ray player would just be cutting off their own sales. Unless they magically force studios to ramp up digital download efforts and make iTunes the sole provider but even then, that's a stretch. I can see FaceTime, App Store and more channels.. with App Store being my 'wanted' pick and more channels likely being what we'll end up with.

Very simple....they need a concept called

"Instantaneous buffer"

No buffering between sources. This would be an awesome feature. There would be virtually no buffering or loading.

I would never argue with Rene but 2 things strike me 1) this is already the 3rd gen Apple TV and even since like January 2013 they had a slight hardware upgrade (I've seen it refer to as Apple TV 3 gen rev A) and 2) so technically it's been less then a year. With that said I do not mean to disrespect anyone just the next Apple TV will be the 4th gen. Also in the past they upgraded the models every 2 years (give or take a few months) so it would be 2 years soon (the soft refresh withstanding) and I have no idea what they could do but I'm sure it'll be awesome.

Sent from the iMore App

I'm hoping they announce this "new product category" we heard about months back. I'm really hoping they kill off the Apple TV and introduce the "iTV" or therefore lack of a better name, with all of the above built in. It's time for a completely new innovation to blow the world away apple!!

Except for the fact that making a full blown TV, screen and all, would be far out of the reach of most consumers price wise. TV screens are a commodity item. There is much more room for disruption and game changing in enhancing existing TV sets (which people hang on to for years) and adding Apple-like features such as an app store, facetime communication, and (the big one) the ability to access more content without a cable subscription using an ala carte subscription model instead. That and many more people will be able to afford an upgraded 'puck' setup with the above features vs. many thousands of dollars for a screen to go with it. The magic isn't in making a new screen, but enhancements to make the most use out of that screen.

Also, that would be missing another issue with TV ownership. Apple could make a TV, but then what? I have a nearly complete Sony ecosystem in the living room (XBOX rather than PS3 is the only break). As such, I have Bravia Sync running nearly everything, and it is very seamless. If Apple creates a TV that I am willing to buy, they'll need a surround receiver too, and a Blu-Ray wouldn't hurt. You see, it isn't just the screen, its much more than that. Just adding an Apple TV box is no big deal. Changing out the whole theater is.

what does apple make that isnt far out of the reach of most consumers price wise? (other than the apple tv) is it their $2000+ laptops, their $3000+ desktops, or maybe their $600-$1000 unlocked phones. Apple is a luxury product, not everyone can afford luxury products.

Samsung, & Sony are already making innovative both TV's and Phones, neither make box-top sets. This could be a whole new market category for apple, such as the iphone, and ipad were.

apple is known for making its own hardware and software, so really, just making a boxtop set that only portrays software on any compatible hardware is not like apple if you really think about it. When has apple ever made just software available to use on others hardware. They like to keep it all together.

and with the amount of people making TVs, apple could more than likely enter the market with a fairly priced/slightly above average price tag, but also build in things like Retina Display, Facetime, Blue-Ray, and better iphone/ipad compatibilty, all things which cannot be done well with just a boxtop set.

I get that Apple is a luxury brand.

Apple already makes both the hardware and the software for the Apple TV, it's in the Apple TV box itself. The TV just acts as a 'monitor' of sorts to display the Apple TV content on.

I could maybe, possibly, conceivably see them making a full blown TV set (although I still think it would not be their typical MO to do so). At the same time, though, if they do release a full blown TV set, it will probably be in conjunction with an upgraded stand alone set top box as well. We already see this practice with their Mac desktop line. You can get an all-in-one iMac that has the computer hardware built into a very nice display, a display that has a facetime camera and all the other goodies as well. You can ALSO get a Mac Mini, which is the 'set top box' (in this analogy) computing unit if you already have your own monitor to use with it, not to mention that it is much more attractively priced since you're not also getting a monitor with all the goodies in it. If you want to, you can even get a thunderbolt display if you want to get the monitor separate with all the goodies as well. Three different options, all of which offer the same core OSX experience, you just have to decide if you want the extras in the included monitor or not.

I see no reason why Apple TV can't follow the same model.

Isn't apples strategy in tv already well established? If all of those things are introduced it would go against the evolution of the previous 3 generations and make them mostly redundant. Unless the real Apple Television is real, and will launch alongside it. I've been hoping for apps this whole time, but every year there were only tiny incremental progressions. There is so much potential, even steve Jobs said when the time was right; so what might he have meant? I suspect that their vision is eventually to include more apps but not an open shop, so that they can keep costs modest ( in terms of ram, and power conservation) and hand pick them. Maybe home automation might be a focus, since there are so many more options there now. Just not sure about tv channels anymore. Another possibility might be a dedicated overlaid TV guide, something like zeebox, perhaps, in the way Freesat in the UK works. Bit exasperated with this 'hobby' actually, but maybe xbox one, and all the other new tv based boxes might shake it up a bit. I wouldn't expect it at this event though, something that big would surely have it's own day.

Better file format support. I'd make it play EVERY file format and video audio combo.

Until it have more formats i'll go with a WD TV player. I've got about 2.5 terabytes of files all in various formats and i don't have the time to convert them all anytime soon.

I'd go use every other half decent player, and i'd add every feature it has into the apple tv. They won't but my goal wouldn't be the lowest common denominator but to blow every other option out of the water. best codec support, best container support, best subtitle support, best audio format support, best app selection, best cloud services. It wouldn't only be a netflix/itunes store delivery device. It would be a full featured unit.

I think you mean "version 4" in the article. The current 1080p Apple TV is the 3rd generation. The 2nd did 720p, and the 1st was the big bulky Apple TV.

Apps and apps again! They will give you all the new channels, file formats, DLNA gaming and other fancy stuff :)
But think about another option - why they just don't add Safari to that little black box. A5 chip should run it in 1080p pretty well and with wireless keyboard , keychain and other things would be the best option against ugly Smart TV solutions

I for one truly hope Apple does not enter the iTV market. There are already too many players, and I seriously doubt they're going to offer a 70", which means that in order to get any benefit from an iTV, I'd have to unload my existing large screen and downgrade to whatever lowest common denominator Apple decided to produce.

It seems to make much more sense to keep the *TV offering as a set top box, let everyone else fight over the small margins in the TV market, and make a device that can attach to all of them.

I agree. The most room for improvement and enhancements are in features to add to the already existing screens, and still be priced where the masses can afford it.

Ok...so I used to LOVE my Apple TV. Now it drives me nuts every time I turn it on. Seeing the "channels" I do not have access to really stinks. Watch ESPN, Disney, HBO go etc. very un apple like to have those channels that require a cable subscription. Awhile back there were rumors of Apple and Comcast working together...and there was even a comcast statement that we're not opposed to working with apple.

I know the reason apple can't sell access to those channels directly is because those channels are locked in contracts with cable companies...but maybe comcast (being a cable company) could sell...al a cart...access to those channels. Like netflix, comcast could just draft your card every month. I'd pay $8/ mo for espn like I do netflix. (Heck I'd pay $12 or $15/mo). That's where the future is going and the cable companies better jump on board. I really hope for an announcement like that...AND I'd love to see the ABC, NBC, CBS apps like on the iPhone and iPad offered on the Apple TV.

As for an App Store I think that's counter intuitive to their current philosophy of getting the quality content providers on board. It'll be harder to get the network channels....and the cable channels to jump onboard....if they open up APIs

Third-party app support, finally. Amazon Instant Video, games, apps. Use your iPhone or iPod touch like a Wii remote (it's already got the accelerometer, speaker, microphone, Bluetooth, touchscreen input, etc.)

Check out Motion Tennis in the App Store for the iPhone. You can get a taste of Wii style gaming on your Apple TV this way.

It's very easy. Add an App Store with access to the huge catalog of games it holds. Combine that with the now native gamepad support in iOS 7, and boom, Apple just won the next-gen console wars.

App Store. I have Amazon Prime, and thus Amazon Instant Video. There are some things there that Netflix does not provide. At this point, I have to run my XBox 360 to get to that content, or push it via AirPlay.

The last point makes it even more ridiculous that it isn't available directly on my ATV. If I can push it from my phone, just give it to me native so I don't have to burn down my battery and do double streaming.

And no, I don't think this conflicts with channel partners. In fact it opens the door more, in my opinion. Then I could download the channels I actually want, or delete the ones I don't. If I need a cable subscription to access them, that is fine (well, not really, but in the context of an app store).

It would be a total surprise to me if Apple built an actual panel. I firmly believe that they will stick with a small add on box. In terms of hardware a good place to start would be to bring the chip in-line with the latest (upcoming?) iPad model. Given the game controller API in iOS7, games that could make use of the A7 would be a killer feature. App Store + Beefier Chipset = FTW.

The Apple TV needs Safari. This way when you travel and need to authenticate hotel Wifi through a browser it can be done.

Apps are a no brainer as well and keep iOS developers connected to the iDevice ecosystem. Also the next Apple TV needs to be an Apple iBeacon. It already has Bluetooth so there's no harm in making it an iBeacon as well. This would enable you to accurately track your location. Imagine walking to the bedroom and hitting a button and having the content that was streaming to the Living Room Apple TV automatically?

And last but not least it needs 802.11ac support. We need the fastest connections available to stream higher quality video

As an owner of the first generation Apple TV, I'd like to see the return of local storage with a sizable hard drive or SSD.

That's one area where I'm still loving my "antique".

BTW it pisses me off that a bunch of crappy cable companies could prevent the most valuable company in the world from opening up the AppleTV to third party developers. I don't even have cable TV, which I dropped because it is just not relevant any more, and they are still making my life suck.

Today's Apple TV is either plugged into an AV Receiver, or plugged directly into a TV. The former is bad because the receiver's interface is crappy and complicated - 3 remotes. The latter is bad because the sound sucks and there's still the TV remote to deal with.

I'd like to see Apple release an AV Receiver with the following features:
- Apple TV functionality
- wired center, left, right speakers & sub; wireless rear speakers
- cable card
- AirPort Extreme functionality
- inputs for legacy peripherals (DVD, Blueray, computer, etc.)
- outputs for standard or 4K monitor
- 1 apple remote to rule all (except for the peripherals, which are rarely used anyhow).

This puts the AppleTV interface squarely in the center of the livingroom, instead of dangling from the side of some other gear.

If apple did release the App store for the Apple TV, how much could it really do? The current and last iteration of the Apple TV have no harddrive, so any apps you would want to use would have to be streaming as you do with movies and tv shows, and how would that be any better than just airplaying an app from your iphone, ipad, or macbook? They would indeed have to release new hardware that has a sizable harddrive to store your apps, and then the app store would only be accesible to those who go buy the 4th gen apple tv.. not very apple like to exclude all previous generations of owners from a new feature like the app store.

also, what kind of apps could really be made specifically for the Apple TV app store? you're just plugging in a boxtop into your TV, so theres no GPS, Accelerametor, Compass, etc funcationality, and theres no video or voice pick-up functionality. Again these functions COULD be added to a new 4th gen hardware, but then your excluding everyone but 4th gen owners from the app store and those apps functionality. You could make games of course, but again, they would have to be streaming as there is no hard drive, and what makes this any better than just airplaying from your handheld device..

with an "iTV" you can incorporate all of these things: Huge Hard Drives, DVD Player, App Store, Retina/4K Display, Face Time, GPS, Microphone and Video Pick-ups, DVR, Better Handheld Remote support, Hook-ups for Periph's, Siri, etc. - They can make TV's in sizes 46", 55", 65" & 75", thats only 4 models to produce, all with the same aspect ratio's and hardware, and they can bring them into the market at a fair price or slightly above. Saying noone will buy it because TV's are commodity items and people keep their existingTV's for a long time is a horrible argument, if that was true, why would any TV company continue to make new and innovative TV's if infact people just keep their old TV's. I know I'm in the market for a new TV, I've had mine for just over 5 years (which ironically is actually shorter than how long i've owned my current macbook, and apple releases a new macbook every year..)

just saying... i would totally be in the market for a 55" Apple iTV with all of the above features.

I chose blu ray player not so much because I want a blu ray player, but I want BluRay capabilities such as 3D and special features, aka iTunes Extras. I buy all my movies on iTunes except those I want in 3D. I'd love to not have to buy BluRays for that. And iTunes Extras is just this side of useless being limited to viewing on a computer. Give us a better experience, Apple. (If you don't like 3D, I don't care)

Compatibility with a network attached media server (NAS), so that I can view photos, videos, and listen to music, without having to turn on another computer and run iTunes. Why can't ATV see a wireless network hard drive? My cheap Sony blu-ray can. And it takes FOREVER to load new photos with iTunes + ATV. Not all my photos are in photostream or in iCloud.