The “I finally cracked it” quote from Walter Isaacson’s authorized Steve Jobs biography has gotten fans excited and sparked a new round of speculation involving a full-fledged Apple television set with the Apple TV functionality built-in. Analysts are calling for a 2012 launch, claiming Apple’s been prototyping a television set for a while. Now Nick Bilton chimes in with an article in the New York Times, saying Jobs’s comment probably relates to Siri being the perfect remote control replacement for the confusing user interfaces found on today’s televisions.

As you recall, Jobs told his biographer that “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine”. Be that as it may, Bilton does not rule out the possibility of an Apple-branded television product, hinting at what the pundits have been hoping for all along:

The television project has been in the works for sometime. I first heard about Apple’s television plans over a year ago.

Apparently, Apple’s been prototyping a television set for some time, if Bilton’s sources are to be believed:

At the time, an individual who has knowledge of Apple’s prototype supply chains overseas told me they had seen some “large parts floating around” that belonged to Apple. This person believed that it “looked like the parts could be part of a large Apple television.”

Even if Apple is not working on such a project at the moment, Bilton writes, the company has it on its roadmap:

I immediately began snooping around, asking Apple employees and people close to the company if a full fledged Apple Television was in the works. Several people, all speaking on condition of anonymity for obvious reasons, told me that nothing was actively being built, but — and this was a big but — I was told repeatedly that Apple would eventually make a television. “Absolutely, it is a guaranteed product for Apple,” I was told by one individual. “Steve thinks the industry is totally broken.”

And how would Siri tie in? Pretty seamlessly:

It’s the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk: “Put on the last episode of Gossip Girl.” “Play the local news headlines.” “Play some Coldplay music videos.” Siri does the rest.

Of course this experience goes beyond just playing TV shows or the local news. As the line between television programming and Web content continues to erode, a Siri-powered television would become more necessary. You aren’t going to want to flip through file folders or baskets of content, checking off what you want. Telling Siri to “play videos of cute cats falling asleep” would return an endless YouTube stream of adorable napping fur balls.

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