What’s this? It seems that the Apple TV may finally be getting that promotion from ‘project’ to ‘product’. Engadget claims to have exclusive information that Apple’s media centre will be named the iTV and move to a predominantly stream based service, with hardware similar to that of the iPhone 4.
Naturally, this has its limitations. Internals similar to that of an iPhone means limited storage first and foremost. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have 3TB of media on a hard drive, so having a 16GB iTV spells no local storage whatsoever. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I like to keep my media local, and not have to rely on an Apple server to deliver my entertainment.
On the other hand, for people who just want to watch the latest episode of a show that they missed on TV, a streaming service seems fitting, and may fit the bill for quite a lot of Apple’s customers.
The next major move in the revamp of the iTV is to add apps to the platform. Presumably, the new model will run on some variant of Apple’s iOS, as opposed to the current model which actually runs Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) in the background behind Front Row, which offers the media centre interface. This would allow developers to easily transition their applications to the iTV’s requirements, and offer them on the iTV App Store.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure I’d want to have the vast majority of applications available on the App Store on the iTV. Unless they introduce some form of controller for the device, which I’d say is incredibly unlikely (unless that’s one of the real uses of the Apple Magic TrackPad), there’s no chance that we’ll see anything beyond simple puzzle games appearing on the platform. Despite this, it would be nice to be able to update my Facebook and Twitter status straight from my TV, without having to use a laptop (although I’m pretty sure that the iPad tablet device fits the bill nicely for couch-browsing purposes, doesn’t it?).
Of course, the biggest part of iTV is the TV, so content delivery and playback is crucial. Unfortunately, it seems as though we will have to cope without 1080p playback. Apple’s strategy for the iTV will most likely be streaming based, and for streaming purposes, 720p will suffice. However, when it comes to local file playback, I’d love to have the choice of 1080p playback. As far as Apple are concerned, there’s no 1080p content on the iTunes store and no Blu-Ray drives in any Apple computer, so why would you need to playback such files? Well, believe it or not, there are those of us with personal media collections too, and for me, 1080p is crucial in any media centre PC setup.
One more thing before I conclude, I think there’s an elephant in the post… I don’t suppose it’s the fact that us Brits already have ITV is it? Yeah, good luck getting around that one, Apple. With the UK being a huge market for Apple outside of the US, it will be interesting to see how they find their way around the clear trademark issues over here. Saying that, I don’t suppose it stopped them with iOS – they just threw some money at them for licensing purposes – I’m guessing ITV wouldn’t be averse to some extra cash too?
I clearly have some reservations about the Apple TV / iTV, but I genuinely do want to proven wrong here. I’d love nothing more than for it to become crazily popular and jailbroken by enthusiasts so that I can play back my MKV collection, but I may just avoid that issue altogether and install Boxee on it. What are your thoughts? Would you want iTV (or Apple TV) being the centre of your media centre?