ATV

We reported last fall that a revamped Apple TV set-top-box is in the works, and then we learned earlier this year that the new box would likely be introduced in the first half of 2014. Sources said at the time that the new model would be redesigned (at least on the inside) and would sport new content (perhaps a true App Store or gaming functionality). Since that time, sources indicated that internal prototypes for the new device include AirPort Express-like functionality, a form of enhanced iOS gaming integration, and a TV tuner component for connecting to existing cable setups.

Now, we have located a reference to the next-generation Apple TV inside of iOS 7 software builds:

AppleTV4

The reference is inside of an Apple TV framework related to the device’s AirPlay functionality. The mention of the next Apple TV is the highlighted “AppleTV4,1.” The current Apple TV is “AppleTV3,2″ while “3,1” is the 1080P model introduced in March 2012, and 2,1 is the first iOS model introduced in September 2010.

The reference to the next-generation Apple TV 4,1 first appeared in iOS 7.0 in September, but the reference has not been unearthed until now. The sighting of Apple TV 4,1 is confirmation that the new device is in the works. The nomenclature also indicates that the new Apple TV model will remain as part of the Apple TV product family. The jump from 3,2 to 4,1 also confirms that the device will see notable changes in terms of internal components.

The latest Apple TV software builds also have references to iOS 7’s new Game Controller framework. However, it is unclear if those frameworks are just left over from the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch or if they indicate confirmation of Game Controllers being able to connect to the next-generation Apple TV product.

While our previous reporting and this new confirmation indicates that an Apple TV refresh is coming soon, an exact timeframe is not so clear. Apple CEO Tim Cook previously indicated that 2014 would see new product introductions throughout the year, but Apple is yet to announce any product unveiling events. In 2012, Apple introduced a new Apple TV in March, so perhaps the next Apple TV will, too, be introduced during the month of March. iOS 7.1, the next update for iOS devices (including the Apple TV) is currently planned to arrive during that month.

Thanks developer Hamza Sood for the lead!

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23 Responses to “New Apple TV hardware references already appearing in iOS 7 builds”

  1. This time should be real. I still remember half a year ago, Apple did put some false model numbers of iPhone for a few good laughs :P

  2. I find it hard to get excited over a product that appears to be going *backwards* in time in terms of features being added.

    “Get it Now! The All-NEW AppleTV, now with two new features from the 1990’s!”
    (Cable TV and Game controllers)

    I gave up cable years ago, and only a small subset of the weenie population plays shoot-em-up and driving games. I don’t see how this will even “broaden the appeal”* as they say, which is just a euphemism for “playing to the stupids”

    • It’s not going to have a Cable TV tuner. Gaming support – maybe (which you don’t have to take advantage of if you aren’t a gamer).

      • Yeah, a QAM tuner is pretty much pointless, in the US at least, since the cable co’s got the FCC to allow them to encrypt/”scramble” the broadcast channels. An ATSC tuner would likewise be rather pointless, as nearly 40% of America now can’t get more than a handful of over-the-air channels, even with an antenna. I get one, a local but out-of-state NBC affiliate that isn’t even “in” my home market, in a 150k person “micropolitan” region.

        Gaming support I think is a lock. Consider Apple’s move to get MFi controllers out there. Also, Apple could just about crush the Wii U by allowing an iPod/iPad to be a “touch controller” for big screen games (think ‘Flappy Birds’ on a 50″). The time is now for Apple to market hardware looking forward to a holiday season where they gear up App Store for Apple TV.

        In that vein, and unfortunate for the MFi controller makers, I hope Apple reconsiders its MFi controller policy. Both the Nintendo controller and Playstation controllers use Bluetooth and can pair with minimal software effort (especially the Wii controller). Apple stands to fail at adoption if the MFi controllers are expensive and crappy, compared to the “standard fare” already out there; and all signs say they -will be- (they already ARE, as reported here on 9-to-5). If you look at the controller wars fought over Xbox vs PS3 layout, button tactile feel, trigger: analog vs digital…this stuff is not the fringe thing one might think, it is something that I hear from even little kids! (True story: my buddies’ *kids* won’t play with a PS3 controller, they like the Xbox layout and he had to buy them a converter for the PS3.) Although it would/might hurt the MFi program, in the long run Apple customers would win with being able to buy/use PS3 and Wii controllers. And it would leave open the option for Xbox-style Bluetooth controllers to gain ground, since that market for the PS3 has also suffered from scale and quality issues.

      • There are two types of QAM: Clear QAM with standard frequencies and PIDs and your encrypted versions that cable companies use for their systems with custom PIDs for audio and video on each channel to accommodate their individual, custom channel maps. Yes the FCC has stated that Cable Providers can now encrypt their signals that they distribute over their cable plant. However OTA, or Over The Air signals are still broadcast in Clear QAM and readily available for free. They have to be since they’re still a huge part of Broadcast TV’s revenues as well as the Emergency Broadcast System.

        I’ve got a Mohu Leaf and get the local channels from a broadcast tower that’s over 30 miles away for free. Granted now I don’t really need the tuner in an Apple TV since my set has a built-in one that we use. But for a monitor it would be great.

        Also, given the bandwidth constraints of the RF cable plant, cable companies will compress the video signal going out. So using an antenna I actually get a clearer HD Picture than what Comcast provides.

      • Actually, it might have a cable tv tuner. The vast majority of Americans still subscribe to cable. So, it can work for them, and for the idiot who think the entire world revolves around him.

      • @Robert Rooney ATSC, or “Over the Air”, does not broadcast using QAM, it uses 8VSB. “There are two types of QAM”, there are actually several…encrypted vs unencrypted however isn’t a “type” of QAM, it merely describes the state of the stream that is coded.
        @BitchR because most cable systems are encrypting content, merely including a “cable tuner” would do nothing. Apple would either need to support CableCard or partner with cable co’s to specifically provision. Both of these are unlikely, at least in the “retail” sense. More likely is that Apple would offer an AppleTV product THROUGH your cable company. Unlike mobile providers and the SIM, there is no “modern” method of abstracting provisioning from cable hardware (and yes, I am EXCLUDING CableCard from the definition of “modern”, mostly because the cable co’s themselves have done so).

        A cable-tuner-equiped AppleTV is just not something we the consumer are going to be buying from Apple any time soon. And I still maintain that an ATSC tuner is next to pointless. The FCC flooded the market with free ATSC tuners during the digital transition and require TV sets to include them. The limited reach of broadcast television ultimately makes it pointless for Apple to waste resources on. And to the contrary, Mr. Rooney, OTA broadcasts are NOT a “huge part of Broadcast TV revenues”…revenue from cable retransmission agreements and advertising derived from that marketshare far outstrip the small percentage of OTA viewership.

      • A mix up on acronyms. Big whoop. It still doesn’t change the fact that there are still free OTA broadcasts, many in HD, and with MUCH clearer pictures due to the lack of compression that Cable Companies impose due to bandwidth/poor Channel Map planning. Likewise it’s figured that around 60,000,000 million households in the United States rely solely upon Antenna Television. That doesn’t figure in the amount of Satellite subscribers who pair their subscriptions with OTA broadcasts, as well as the number of homes that rely upon Cable Modems for Streaming Video Services such as Netflix or Hulu though devices, yet also forgo any type of CATV subscription and rely upon an antenna.

        As for a the Apple TV replacing the traditional STB, it’s coming. Rumors are about, and I believe that it was reported that Apple was working with Cable Companies on the concept. Think about it: Even if an Apple TV cost you $99, or $199 (or even free with a subsidized commitment ala mobile phone contracts), it’s an absolute win-win situation resulting in millions of dollars per year saved. Other than an initial visit to verify levels and possibly setup Digital Phone, truck rolls are almost entirely eliminated. Got a bad box? Don’t go to the cable company, go to the Apple Store. The savings on wages, fuel, warehousing, inventorying, purchasing equipment is massive. Not to mention that this would finally alleviate the long-standing complaints regarding cable customers being forced to rent equipment for service. The failed compromise of Cable Cards having long since faded away. An Apple TV with a QAM tuner and two-way communication would be amazingly beneficial to any Cable Company.

        The only caveat in all of this is the iTunes store. Time Warner Cable was very upset that Apple would still have rentals available with the Apple TV. This didn’t sit well with them and they vehemently opposed the idea. So it was put on the back burner. Fast forward and it turns out that now Time Warner has partnered with Apple to bring an App for them to the AppleTV menu. Now that it has been announced that Time Warner will be purchased by Comcast, the press is speculating that this will stop development of the Apple TV as an STB. On the contrary: It’s going to accelerate it’s arrival.

    • Robert Nixon says:

      > only a small subset of the weenie population plays shoot-em-up and driving games.

      This has got to be the most ignorant comment I’ve ever seen on a tech blog.

    • The thing about games on Apple TV is you have to think about what that means. Games means 3rd Party development. 3rd party development means developer tools. It’s not a big leap then to go developer tools means 3rd part app development. App development is what we’ve all been waiting for with Apple TV – it’s what will make it great. (Just look at the iphone – it wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular without 3rd party apps.)

  3. Can’t wait to see the next device that’s instantly going to make my current AppleTV3,1 models obsolete!

  4. I already pay Comcast for the ISP. I noticed these apps are requiring a cable TV subscription. This is self-defeating because I use an antenna. It’s like I’m being bullied into buying something that I’m already paying for.

    • OneOkami says:

      That’s one of the ways cable/satellite providers attempt to stem cord cutters. They want to you pay for TV service as well as internet service and they have deals in place to ensure some content is only accessible if you’re a TV subscriber.

      Personally I feel fortunate to have TV interests that are well satisfied with all the streaming services I use so it doesn’t affect me. I happily cut the cord back in 2011 and I haven’t looked back. I’ll celebrate the day traditional cable TV content delivery model dies and you only pay (reasonably) for the content you want.

  5. Why haven’t they added the ability to play iTunes Extras on the AppleTV yet? When they do that, then I’ll buy another one.

  6. yuniverse7 says:

    I’m just interested in the final product that Jobs claimed to have “figured out.” If he was so excited about it, I can’t imagine it being a dud. Hopefully, it will be another revolutionary/evolutionary product by Apple.

  7. Josh Peck says:

    Can’t wait to see what Apple has rolled up their sleeves w/ this one!

  8. Paul DiCarlo says:

    What would be great is if Apple TV had the Safari App. So you could surf the web from a wireless Keyboard.

  9. b9bot says:

    Apple won’t release a box that can’t deliver content. In other words they won’t just put a tuner inside of it if it will not be able to deliver content. Google does this, but not Apple. They have been adding channels constantly now for the past few months. Granted you are still tied to a cable company but who knows that might change with the next version of the Apple TV. Apple has been working hard to get content licensed unlike Google who thinks that the cable companies are supposed to just let them have whatever they want. That didn’t work out to well. It will be interesting to see what they add to the latest version of the Apple TV. Gaming would be huge even if it isn’t for everyone it would be for a lot of people. And the price versus say an XBOX or Playstation 4 that would be a huge win for Apple. Time will tell from here. My hope is that they are able to get content without the cable TV ties of today. That would blow away the competition.

  10. I wish you could plug your Cable box into the new Apple TV just like the Xbox One, but Apple would control the user interface.