Apple TV: 5 Rumored Features

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We’ve reached another milestone in the Apple product rumor cycle, in which the Wall Street Journal drops a big story based on unnamed sources. The topic now is an Apple television set–not to be confused with the existing Apple TV set-top box–and the WSJ mentions several features we can expect if the product becomes real, based on talks Apple has held with unnamed media company executives.

Here are five rumored features for the mythical Apple TV, based on the WSJ‘s report:


The WSJ says users will be able to control Apple’s television by voice. We’ve heard this rumor before from the New York Times, more specifically stating that Siri, the virtual assistant inside the iPhone 4S, would make its way to big screens. Siri’s tolerance for naturally-spoken phrases could make it a killer remote. Imagine, for instance, saying “Play the latest episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix,” or “Show me some stand-up comedy.”

(MORE: The Future of Television: Kinect vs. Siri?)

Motion Controls

Apparently, Apple’s been talking to media executives about controlling the television with motion. But it’s unclear whether the WSJ is talking about a motion-sensing camera like Kinect for Xbox 360, or motion controls built into a physical remote, more like Nintendo’s Wii.

iCloud DVR

Apple reportedly wants users to be able to watch their recorded TV shows on any Apple device, regardless of where it was originally recorded or viewed. That sounds similar to the service provided by Slingbox, but without the need for a separate set-top box or expensive apps.

Multi-Device Streaming

Similar to the iCloud DVR concept, the WSJ reports that Apple wants any of its devices to act like televisions, streaming video to wherever the user happens to be.

iPhone and iPad Controls

The Apple TV set-top box already allows users to stream from apps and select content through their iPhones or iPads, so it’s a given that an Apple television would have similar capabilities. The problem is that some content owners have blocked this streaming technology, called AirPlay, due to piracy concerns.

Whether Apple can actually offer these features in a TV has more to do with the business of distributing content than with the limitations of technology.  Content owners worry about piracy, they worry about disrupting traditional TV business models and they’re worried about giving Apple too much control. For now, Apple is simply hoping to entice content owners with its vision of the future of television, the WSJ says, staying vague about specific software and devices and not making any proposals for content licensing. If an Apple-branded television is going to happen, it won’t be anytime soon.

MORE: TV Needs to Be Reinvented