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:
iPad Air 2
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!