Is Apple TV Just One Big App That’s Destined for the iPad?

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Funny thing about the Apple TV box that just came out. It appears that the underlying interface is just one big application called “Lowtide,” according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW):

“Apple TV seems to run Lowtide, an application responsible for all user interactions, which is derived from the previous Front Row application. Lowtide handles media playback, rentals, DRM management (Fair Play, of course), and other basic services.”

That’s one thing, but apparently Lowtide’s code lists not only Apple TV as one of the compatible devices upon which Lowtide can run, but it lists the iPad as well. “That means Lowtide can nominally be run on both devices, should the right frameworks be there to support the application,” says TUAW.

That “should the right frameworks be there” is important because those software frameworks don’t exist on the iPad yet. “However,” says TUAW, “It shouldn’t be long before enterprising hackers get some of this working.”

In the short term, that’s all well and good for anyone with the cajones to hack their iPad to run the Apple TV interface. The long-term implications, though, may indicate that Apple has plans to someday offer Lowtide as an iPad app—it’d probably simply be called “Apple TV”—based on the fact that it listed the iPad as a compatible hardware device for Lowtide.

So you’d be able to run the Apple TV interface on your iPad and use it to rent TV shows and movies just like you do with the Apple TV hardware box that just came out. The iPhone is missing from Lowtide’s compatible devices list, but you could imagine somewhere down the line that Apple may consider extending the Apple TV platform to its handheld devices as well. This could all be done via a software update.

The company doesn’t want to cannibalize sales of the Apple TV hardware, so it’s likely waiting to roll out an iPad app sometime in the future once sales of Apple TV have cooled off a bit. An iPhone app seems less certain right now, but ultimately it’s about selling content to people. And the greater the number of devices that can play that content, the better it is for Apple.

More on Techland:

Apple TV (2010) Review: Welcome To The Family

Complete List of What’s Currently Available For the New Apple TV

Two Minute Video: Are the New iPods and Apple TV Worth It?