It wasn't long ago that Steve Jobs referred to Apple TV as a hobby. Now, "several people familiar with Apple's television related efforts" are dropping tantalizing clues pointing to Apple getting serious with its neglected home theater box. It feels like something big is in the works.
Sources say Apple is completely redesigning Apple TV's user interface. We like its user interface now, so this is going to be good. There's even talk of the company creating an entirely new group to design and support the new Apple TV. This could be even bigger. What should they do to re-create the Apple TV?
1. Give it the ability to display 1080p video. We want the highest resolution on Apple TV, and we want it now.
2. Play every video and audio file format in the world. Stop being so closed, Apple. Let it play Matroska files, Flac audio — all that weird stuff, opening the floodgates to video everywhere, not just coming from iTunes. Maybe even Flash, since battery life, one of Apple's main concerns for not supporting it on the iPhone/iPad, isn't a concern with a home device (though we're not going to hold our collective breath on this one).
3. Make it a super DVR that records video over the air and from cable. Everybody raves about TiVo's user interface, but now it's your turn, Apple. Show us how digital video recorders should have been working all along.
4. Make it a place shifter. Show Slingbox how this should be done. We want to be able to access Apple TV's video from anywhere in the world, on any of our devices. Obviously, in this case, they're going to have to be Apple devices, but let us use our video that we've paid for (or not), anywhere we want.
5. Let us access our audio and video in the cloud. Let us locate our video wherever we want.
6. Let us access the Web with it, and let us do anything we do with a desktop computer or laptop. That would let us get to Hulu, Netflix, and any other service we desire.
7. Design some spiffy new way to control this new box, complete with keyboard capability.
8. And here's the ultimate wish: Bake all that Apple goodness into a gorgeous 65-inch OLED display. Short of that, how about a 120Hz 60-inch LED-backlit LCD HDTV? We'd pay $2000 for that.