back to article Apple shouldn't bother with TV...

Can nobody rid of us the barefoot CEO? He may be gone, but Steve Jobs continues to manipulate the press from the beyond – this time through his biographer, Walter Isaacson. The Steve Jobs biography launches the hype for Apple's next great product, a TV. "It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud... …

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  1. James O'Brien
    Joke

    Can I be the first to point out

    That the author got it wrong. The actualy quote should have read:

    "It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud... It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked," Jobs reportedly told his Boswell.

    There all better.

  2. Marvin the Martian
    Trollface

    The "biographer" hasn't checked up on the "bio" part recently.

    Too soon?

  3. Earl Jones Of Potatoes
    Childcatcher

    ElReg's big grain of salt

    Andrew should perhaps remember Bill Ray's "Why the iPhone will fail and fail badly" before attempting to look into the future....

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: ElReg's big grain of salt

      That was my inspiration for the piece. Link inserted now.

  4. IE User

    One remote to rule them all

    That would be the killer app in the living room.

    When Apple does that, everybody will go bananas over the pure genius and just ignore that some would also want a screen larger than 35 inches, one that kids can't scratch and not super glossy pls.

    1. Ralph B
      Boffin

      I know you're joking but ...

      It really would be nice to have a remote control without 50+ tiny buttons on it. The current Apple TV remote has just a 5-way, a menu button and a play button. That's it. And it does everything you need and more.

      The TV-equipment industry really missed out on their usability classes.

      1. Craigness

        @Ralph

        Maybe they saw use cases which you didn't. I like having shortcuts for things like changing to a specific channel, pausing, skipping back and forth, choosing an input mode, getting program info, setting an alarm, switching to text, muting and more. They're all available on a simple to use remote control but I can go into the simple-to-use menu system if I want to do less common things more slowly and with added difficulty, like adjust the contrast ratio.

        Just because they think differently doesn't mean they didn't go to class. They thought well, and got it right. What they didn't think of is locking people in to an expensive (especially for the content creators) content delivery system.

        1. Disintegrationnotallowed
          Thumb Down

          Hatred is an ugly thing

          Remote controls are not a good example of usability, if they were most people would use them and all their functions, I am guessing look at my TV remote that 95% of people I meet press about 20 of the buttons (including the ten number ones).

          Could they be better designed, yes, does your blind hatred of apple just make you froth at any apple piece, yes.

          1. JEDIDIAH
            Linux

            Fanboys ignoring the inconvenient.

            > Remote controls are not a good example of usability

            Sure they are.

            They are great examples of how a company approaches design and how that approach impacts usability and usefulness. Apple remotes are the perfect example of real world practical usability and usefulness taking a back seat to dubious design goals.

            A conventional remote may have "too many buttons" but it does include enough such that basic features one usually associates with modern video appliances. Admittedly, the OSD interfaces that Apple employs could take up the slack here, but they don't.

            Apple remotes are also a great example of Apple ignoring established UI elements that are already well understood by the users. Apple's TV interfaces are a great example of Apple ignoring HID guidelines that fanboys like to crow about so much.

        2. Toggi3
          WTF?

          surely the cost of publishing on iTunes (or youtube for that matter) is less than comcast cable?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just Apple

    I've seen specs of next generation TV systems passing by, with processors running at 1GHz and more, with plenty of RAM, and with some very advanced features.

    Anon for obvious reasons

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      FAIL

      Which is why they'd be barking.

      The success of Apple under Jobs was in spotting something newish and good that wasn't being "done right" and producing a "right" version.

      Everyone knew what was wrong with MP3 players; the cruddy User Interface and the inconvenience of getting music onto them. Apple fixed that.

      Everyone knew what was wrong with smartphones; buggy, unreliable, underpinned with cruddy OEM drivers, byzantine UIs, no updates after sale and a vertiable diaspora of application sources. Apple fixed that, although I have to add here that I reckon that RIM fixed that one first and just forgot to sell it.

      What's wrong with your telly? Everyone else has had donkey's to work on this one. If anything, the trend here is towards a panel, a source (cable, sat, Apple TV, BD, whatever), a sound system and to work toward interoperation between manufacturers. Producing a "walled garden" solution here looks suspiciously like swimming against the tide. Also here, producing one "ideal" telly ain't going to work. Size *is* important.......

      1. Adam Nealis

        What's wrong with my telly?

        Perhaps not the TV per se, but as for the general activities around watching TV...

        I loathe the Sky and Sky+ remotes. Too many buttons. Not obvious how to use them. Difficult to use in a darkened room. The pause/ rewind etc. is good but not unique now. For me, a context-sensitive touchpad on a display like an iPod touch/ small Android tablet/ smartphone would be an improvement...

        As for the TV broadcast standards, it is sad that there still is apparently no seamless way to make sure the correct picture aspect ratio is correctly applied. Why isn't there a place for this information in the standard? Maybe there is, but it is not implemented very well by either TV sellers or set top box sellers or the broadcasters.

        Do the standards allow the BBC to interleave different streams of their own (video and audio channels)? Why not?

        Or the end user to do the same? Why not?

        Since I get lots of TV channels and radio channels through the same pipe to the same set top box, it would be nice to be able to set up a test match with TV video and the BBC Radio commentary.

        Why can't I do this?

        I expect it's the same lack of awareness of what customers want (even if they don't know it yet) exhibited by the Windows boys, Linux boys and Nokias of the world.

        1. Absent

          touchscreen remotes

          "For me, a context-sensitive touchpad on a display like an iPod touch/ small Android tablet/ smartphone would be an improvement..."

          Samsung have one of these for their phones and TVs. You get choices between a simple, full, keyboard, game style controls and swipe pad for different context uses. Controlling the TV and using the phone as an DLNA server over wifi is a very nice feature.

        2. Rob Beard
          Pint

          Re: What's wrong with my telly?

          "I loathe the Sky and Sky+ remotes. Too many buttons. Not obvious how to use them. Difficult to use in a darkened room. The pause/ rewind etc. is good but not unique now. For me, a context-sensitive touchpad on a display like an iPod touch/ small Android tablet/ smartphone would be an improvement..."

          Although I haven't got one, I've seen some Logitech Harmony remotes that are backlit and I believe customiseable with touchscreen displays which might do the job.

          I've used my Android phone to control Blurays and I there is a MythTV app for Android and iPhone but I'm loathed to buy a mobile phone to use as a remote (or leave my mobile at home so the rest of the family who don't have Android phones or iPods/iPads/iPhones can change the TV channels).

          "As for the TV broadcast standards, it is sad that there still is apparently no seamless way to make sure the correct picture aspect ratio is correctly applied. Why isn't there a place for this information in the standard? Maybe there is, but it is not implemented very well by either TV sellers or set top box sellers or the broadcasters."

          Works fine for me, IIRC Widescreen switching is part of the standards. Not sure how it does it over HDMI but in the SCART days it would do it via a connection on the SCART cable. Maybe it's a setting not set on the device. Never seen any problems myself switching between 4:3 and 16:9 on various boxes (Freeview boxes, OnDigital box, Sky boxes).

          "Do the standards allow the BBC to interleave different streams of their own (video and audio channels)? Why not?"

          I gather that DVB does allow for different audio tracks although I've not seen any programmes with alternative audio streams on the BBC, although I gather that it's possible to include an audio description stream. I remember in the old analogue satellite TV days you could get radio channels on some of the TV channels by just changing the audio settings (IIRC each channel had 2 or 3 audio tracks).

          "Or the end user to do the same? Why not?"

          You should be able to select which audio stream you want, assuming they are broadcast with the video.

          "Since I get lots of TV channels and radio channels through the same pipe to the same set top box, it would be nice to be able to set up a test match with TV video and the BBC Radio commentary.

          Why can't I do this?"

          Not sure about Cable, but at least on Freeview the radio channels are transmitted on different muxes to the TV channels so you'd need a tuner for each mux. Technically it would probably be possible maybe with a dual tuner box, or a box of some sort connected to the internet (Youview box maybe) which could grab the radio stream and play this instead of the normal stream. Or the Beeb could offer radio streams alongside the TV streams.

          Maybe there just hasn't been enough call for it to spend time on doing such a thing. Although there's nothing stopping you doing it yourself (maybe grab a copy of MythTV and have a play).

          "I expect it's the same lack of awareness of what customers want (even if they don't know it yet) exhibited by the Windows boys, Linux boys and Nokias of the world."

          But do customers want it? Just because you want it, doesn't mean the other millions of people in the country are that bothered. I'm sure though you could always setup an online petition to try and drum up support for such a feature, maybe there are millions out there who want such a feature that are all sitting there grumbling about not being able to do what you suggested.

          Rob

        3. mike panero

          Aspect ratio

          On my Samsung LCD the freeview stuff knows what aspect ratio to use AND on the Sky+HD when viewing an HD channel also knows what aspect ratio to use (via an HDMI interface)

          If only we had known what a series 6 Samsung TV could do we would not have got a series 5 sure a USB stick with a film on it looks cool but a wireless dongle so I could watch the iplayer without having to plug a laptop in is even better!

          Bluetooth remotes would be nice if you could replicate them on your smartphone

      2. Gerry Doyle
        WTF?

        'inconvenience of getting music onto [mp3 players]'?

        Connect cable - drag and drop, was inconvenient? Seriously?

        1. James O'Brien
          Meh

          Sadly Gerry

          It appears that was the case due to you getting a down vote

          1. Gerry Doyle 1

            Also fixed car stereos, good and proper.

            Also fixed the massive inconvenience of bunging any old mp3 player, USB key, mobile phone you want straight into your car stereo USB slot with, oh, what was that super convenient chain of AUX cables, FM transmitters, chargers and batteries for the transmitter, connecting to the cigarette lighter, tuning radio to transmitter, charging ipod, ipod holders and the downright not dangerous in any way handiness of no display or control from the head unit?

        2. Charles Manning

          itunes is crap. It is about the only reason I have a dual boot system.

          Personally I find the Kindle the most easy system to use.

          You can hook up USB and copy/paste.

          You can click on the "download" button on various websites and the info gets there wirelessy.

          You can email data from anywhere.

        3. Disintegrationnotallowed
          Stop

          ITunes is crud

          But this wasnt what made using an mp3 player hard. The difficulties that were resolved that I remember:

          1) You needed a content management system to store all your stuff, these were clumsy and hideous. Lets not pretend otherwise.

          2) To drag and drop an item, you had numerous steps. First you needed to find and install the drivers for your player, then connect it to your PC, then wait for it all to setup, then you would have to work out where to store the music/videos (usually in some random folder on the device).

          3) The UI of my old MP3 player was bloody awful, no proper searching, no categorising, etc.

          Now I am not claiming iTunes is particularly great, in fact I hate it with a passion, but it did give a one stop place, and was an easier tool than anything people had really done before.

          1. Gerry Doyle 1

            Let's not pretend

            The old pretence of Windows complexity to justify the cost of Apple products is alive and well.

            Of course Windows Explorer is hideously difficult to use, and it's absolutely criminal the way that it doesn't allow you to group your Country Funk seperately from your Disco Folk, but good grief - Right-click, Send To, end of. No drivers required.

      3. vic 4
        FAIL

        Apple fixed that?

        > Everyone knew what was wrong with MP3 players; the cruddy User Interface and the inconvenience of getting music onto them. Apple fixed that.

        You sure iTunes makes this easier than the way things used to be done, i.e. copy a bunch of files via usb? There was loads of (free) software for doing that the last time i looked for my parents years ago. And don't forget you need windows or a mac.

      4. tardigrade

        "What's wrong with your telly?"

        The problem is not the hardware it's the content, or rather access to content. The problem with Telly is that, you can't watch what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.

        That's why Netflix is so popular, but it's only part of the solution. If Apple sold a TV with all the free to view channels and a $30 per month subscription model for all the major networks content streamed over the net to the TV they would sell millions.

        Imagine you switch on your 'iveTV' and after the first episode of the new season of True Blood airs, you can continue to watch the entire season straight away, you can watch the last 5 seasons of Doctor Who one after the other, every episode of The Big Bang Theory or The IT Crowd whenever you want, (without having to use some crappy 4OD youtube video), and then switch to the evening News.

        It would require major deals with all the big networks, but Apple have done this in Music, Films and now Books, so it's now insurmountable. The future has to happen at some point.

        That, I think would qualify as having, 'cracked it'.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Problem already solved, by someone other than Apple.

          > The problem is not the hardware it's the content,

          > or rather access to content. The problem with

          > Telly is that, you can't watch what you want to

          > watch, when you want to watch it.

          Tivo already solved that problem.

          Kaledescape also solved that problem but they are the only vendor that has survived the ensuing inevitable legal challenges from Hollywood. So any other similar products have to be DIY.

          > you can watch the last 5 seasons of Doctor Who one after the other

          Got a lot of storage on the PVR. Can do that already. Could have done that in the 90s too.

          At $2 or $3 or $5 a pop, stuff ads up fast. A lot of the stuff on iTunes that isn't new releases can be bought on spinny disk for what Apple wants to charge you to rent it.

          1. tardigrade

            We're talking about different things.

            Tivo records, Apple will stream. Legal issues from Hollywood? Apple have been talking about deals with major providers.

            PVR is great as long as you know you want to record something. If you only heard of D.Who because of Matt Smith, lets say your American for example, then you wont have 5 years of recording. As for the pricing. Apple were talking about $30 per month for everything. Hence the need to negotiate hard with the big networks. But then I said all that in my last post.

            All this was in the Wall Street Journal last November. Tivo is great but it's not what I'm talking about at all.

  6. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Integration

    "I rarely hear people complain about the complexity of the Sky+ UI, and Jobs' design legacy is all about reducing complexity, not adding to it"

    The Sky+ UI is excellent IMO, until it comes to watching Freeview, catch-up TV from another provider, accessing iPlayer, YouTube, iTunes, a photo collection or DVD rips on a local NAS, being a web browser or anything else people might like to do with a single portal to everything.

    It's still currently the TV that is the the portal and needs to be directly accessed to use the full variety of options; the Sky box cannot deliver. I'm sure everyone is sick of having to juggle numerous remote controls to do what should be controlled by a single remote through a single portal.

    That is where I think St. Steve is coming from; seamless integration to allow anything and moving from one option to another in a consistent and simple manner. Jobs' vision won't truly be "anything" just what Apple permits, using Apple proprietary and expensive kit, which is where it falls down but the vision is sound (if you'll excuse the pun come mixed metaphor).

    HDMI itself already offers the potential ability to integrate everything so Jobs' vision is not unique, but it would fit with the usual Apple belief in 'doing it better than everyone else' and doing it in a unified and controlled way which the public will flock to.

    1. pauly

      @JC Sky+ UI is excellent?

      Compared to Tivo it's bordering on unuseable

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        The older version (Sky/Sky+) is very good. Admittedly that's because there's limited functionality so not much scope for complications.

        The newer Sky HD one, not so much. It's klunky and makes poor use of screen real-estate. It's pretty mad that an HD EPG requires two windows to show the same programme information that the SD version can show in just one..and yet it still obscures more of the screen. It also has other questionable design choices like no volume control, no contrast and a picture-in-guide which although it can be hidden will continue to play the audio track.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Happy

      >I'm sure everyone is sick of having to juggle numerous remote controls to do what should be >controlled by a single remote through a single portal.

      I'm not. I own a Harmony One remote.

      I never need to reach for anything else. Even better it takes care of switching kit on and off and selecting inputs for whatever activity I want.

      Wanna play a game? It switches on the PS3, the TV and the amp then sets the amp to 'DVD Input'.

      Stop playing games and want music? It switches off the PS3, switches on the Logitech Touch and sets the amp to 'CD Player'.

      1. Andy ORourke
        Happy

        Too True

        You can even program macro's to get to those functions you sometimes need but take 2 or 3 button presses with just 1 click :-)

        For a cheap remote I love mine, <Joke>of course the wife hates it and doesnt know how to use it properly, to be fair she doesnt get to use it that much :-) </Joke>

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simplicity? Yes please

    I would buy one if it did "the internets" as well as Freeview HD and the Apple stuff.

    Except they don't have proper telly in the US, so it will probably need another box to work in the UK - so will stick to my 2nd gen AppleTV thanks. Shame really as the kids can't figure out how to switch any of my kit on yet. Luckily.

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Apple TV2 is very good when compared to a bare TV ...

      I think I'd rather see an Apple TV version 3 box to plug in to an HDMI TV rather than a full Apple TV set.

      An Apple TV 3 would be great if it had the following additions ...

      + Bluetooth for optional keyboard to make it easy to enter search and login account text.

      + Dual tuners with the option for more tuners via USB/Thunderbolt

      + Freeview/Freesat HD tuners for the UK .. others tuners for around the world

      + Optional use of NAS drives / iTunes for storing recorded programmes - to keep content owners happy this could be done using iPlayer/4OD/etc style expiry dates.

      I can see Apple going for the bluetooth keyboard option but the rest just does not gel with their current view of content ownership and streaming.

      1. Mark 65

        An unlikely wishlist

        Apple kit is there to sell more Apple kit and services i.e. you won't be getting tuners etc. They want you to buy from their media store and watch on your TV, that is the sole purpose of the box.

  8. NogginTheNog

    I'm NO expert

    But when you talk about Apple cutting deals for TV content, well I'd imagine that might go a lot easier this time around (the first being them trying to get the labels onboard with iTunes) due to the sheer size of the userbase, the ubiquity of the "iSomething" platform, the seriously deep pockets that Apple now has, and the dollar signs the content providers can probably see from all that...?

  9. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
    Alert

    1925 calling...

    Well an Apple TV may sound like a crazy idea, but...

    "For God's sake, go down to reception and get rid of a lunatic who's down there. He says he's got a machine for seeing by wireless. Watch him, he may have a razor on him." - Daily Express News Editor to a junior.

    The "lunatic" was John Logie Baird.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
      Trollface

      John Logie Baird worked for crApple then we would all be watching valve powered 12" black and white screens because crApple would have sued anyone who tried to improve it.

      And John Logie Baird was looney, he didn't patent TV and sue everone else who made one.

  10. Wibble
    Holmes

    Someone's going to sort out the 'lounge computer'

    The integration of video, audio, TV, games, computing, intarwebs, applications, and a whole host of other things must eventually happen. It's like it's 2007 all over again -- you remember those dark days before the iPhone changed the mobile space forever.

    The existing systems are OK, but definitely not great - in a similar way as smartphones were pre-iPhone. Currently you need lots of different systems each with different look & feel and functionality, not to mention loads of remote controls.

    Someone's going to end up owning this space and Apple's pretty well positioned to be the one.

    Not sure I want an Apple telly though. I'd rather something of the size of a Mini-Mac with tuners, discs, cd/dvd/bluray player, networking, peripherals, etc.

    1. Daniel B.
      Happy

      Except for the lack of tuners, you just described my PS3. It's been the media player at home for years. Oh, and you can buy an official BT remote for it, which has all the options needed for most things. Now if they could only add a tuner, it'd be perfect!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Great. Now you've done it. Now Apple is going to have to sue Sony and have the PS3 removed from the market.

  11. Pete Spicer

    Having seen the variety of UIs on current generation Freesat and Freeview devices, and being very much unimpressed with them, perhaps someone needs to sit and back take a look at the overall experience. I'm just not quite sure the Apple way is the way here.

    But I'd pay good money for a device that let me choose what to watch, when, with integrated DVD/BR, and be able to let me select alternative content providers (e.g. Xbox, PC/other HDMI source) and wrap it up in a great interface. Yes, I know I can sort of achieve that by buying one of those all-in-one remotes but they're not often that great, and frankly it's a kludge solution. Far better to have a proper integrated solution, I think.

  12. Scrote
    Facepalm

    All I want is to control my tv with my phone. It'd be a million times better to look at the guide on the phone while the programme you're watching carries on going on the big screen...

  13. You're all dinosaurs

    It's not an original idea...

    Google TV and YouView are both attempts to deliver TV over the top without a guaranteed QoS from a combined TV and broadband provider like Virgin or Sky. Right now, there seems to be more desire to provide the services than a demand to consume them, but if anyone can bring a gaggle of glassy-eyed fools to drink at the well, it's Apple.

    On the other hand, the success of TV on the iPad etc seems to be largely in divorcing it from the traditional large fixed screen for people with more flexible viewing demands, so you could argue that Apple TV isn't reaching Apple's usual market. And on the other, other hand, as Apple's usual market ages and finds itself less mobile because of family etc, a TV from their favourite brand of cash-to-shiny-toy converter could be just what they want. And when it comes to Apple, it's all in the wanting.

  14. Max Lange

    Isn't that just what people thought about the ipod?

    And iphone and iwhatever.

    ithink that there couldn't be anything simpler than flicking channels, but then icould imagine a nice on-screen programme with previews and all as an alternative - granted some TVs already feature that, but not all do and of course they could look better. So go Apple, surprise us, amaze the reg hacks, and imight even dream about buying one - after the second price reduction or so.

  15. Phil.A
    Trollface

    Something wrong with this article

    With the abundance of articles about Jobs recently, there's something wrong with this one - it's not majorly kissing the ass of Steve Jobs!

    Does a TV need Apple's input? For the fanbois or those who must have the latest (and hideously expensive) gadgets to show off to everyone and anyone, then they'll want one, just for the little Apple logo, no matter how useless it is (like seeing someone talking on an iPhone, and then pulling out an iPod Touch to listen to music on!), but for those of us who are in the real world, a big resounding NO!!!!

    With the other devices that provide streaming content (like media PCs, consoles, etc), Apple would be INCREDIBLY late to the market, and not only that, but you're bolting the 2 items together when they don't need it - you get more flexibility from having a TV and a separate play-back device, but nobody said that Apple entheusiasts want flexibility, they prefer being hand-cuffed and told how to think by Apple's UI - yes, simple to use, because it does so little and is so restrictive

    I personally like to be able to view things how I want to view them, so if I want to watch YouTube, I'll watch it, if I want to watch iPlayer, I'll watch it, if I want to be restricted to iTunes, and have no Flash, then I'd have to have a labotomy first, and then I'd buy Apple products :-P

    Give me freedom of choice, give me paying a reasonable price, give me separate devices for my separate needs, and so give me NOTHING made by Apple...

    1. Marcus Bointon
      FAIL

      Huh?

      I think you must live in some parallel universe where TV-related gadgets are not universally shit. I am completely sick of 'separate devices' when NONE of them work well ("of course I'd love yes another remote with another 80 miniscule buttons just so I can hear this movie"). It's got to the point where I just don't watch TV any more, and since it's the advertisers that are paying for most of it, there is money to be had in helping people actually watch stuff instead of fighting with (almost entirely without exception) unusably crap devices. Pursuing this luddite status-quo you suggest is not the answer.

      As the article says, the world of TV is where the phone industry used to be - drowning in an endless drizzle of mediocrity. Somebody, Apple or not, needs to give it a really big shake-up, and they will reap plenty by doing so. Assuming they don't fuck it up, which Apple has a reasonably good track record of not doing.

  16. salawinder
    Facepalm

    I would have thought it was easy

    TV-size iPad with a WiiMote-like device for controlling it. Simples.

  17. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    Well

    I'm 'locked in' to my cable provider and the HD-DVR they provide. It is a steaming pile of shit basically. If something could break that lock-in I'd be very very happy. But surely there is no need for all that to be built into a physical TV? An addon box like the AppleTV, Roku et al would be fine surely?

  18. jonathanb Silver badge

    Don't knock it until you see it

    Wait until you actually see the product before you declare it to be useless and too complicated. It depends what new ideas Apple has come up with. Possibly it is something that nobody has even thought of before.

    People said the iPad would be useless, but Apple's shareholders certainly aren't complaining about it now.

    As far as content is concerned, there's already a lot of stuff in the iTunes store, so the challenge of getting it onto a new TV product is not insurmountable.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Hmmm....

    Simplicity. Yes. But it isn't going to happen.

    Before I jaikbroke my Apple TV2, (so it would do the complex stuff) it was too tied down in its media sources. It couldn't even feed or stream from a local system unless it was an iTunes system on the local network. I believe (I could be wrong here) that Apple even went as far as being able to block the services which mimicked iTunes. (I couldn't test that one, because I don't have iTunes; asside from the ATV2, I have no other Apple kit)

    The Apple TV2 was a tied down disaster in my book. Not worth the money on its own; and it was less than a hundred pounds even back then.

    Jailbroken, it is possible to stream from SMB shares and do much more besides (which you'd need to because there is no hard drive on the ATV2) so if Apple are creating a TV interface along these lines, then I couldn't see a market for it.

    It would need to not only break the mould, it would have to make a completely new mould that will make people go ... Wow! ... and call me a cynic, but I can't see it happening under the kind of tightly walled structure of the ATV2. However, there are 40 billion reasons in Apple's bank that could yet prove me wrong.

  20. Andy E
    FAIL

    If I remember rightly....

    ...there were quite a few personal music players available when the iPod came out. There were also lots of smart mobile phones when the iPhone came out. If/when the iTelly launches it will probably have one or more novel features that distinguish it from the competition. Should it be launched Apple obviously has seen a market opportunity to make some money.

    I can't see standards approach taking hold in TV's. The manufacturers need to offer something to differentiate it from the rest other than price.

    Pointless article really. Arguing against something that has not been announced.

  21. Anthony Hulse

    Well...

    ...if they come out with something that supports BBC iPlayer right across the range they're already ahead of bloody Panasonic.

  22. drummerboy46

    Apple can do this

    I think it's the perfect time for Apple to break into TV services and come up with something new and desirable.

    If they can find their way through the quagmire of premium content licensing, I think the rest will soon follow.

    The key to the perfect TV device is convergence, so the ability to stream content offline (local network) as much as online. I've been searching for the perfect home entertainment system in a box for years and the closest i've come to this is the HUMAX HDR FOX T2. But unfortunately it still falls short on streaming services both offline and online. The FetchTV smartbox, is closer but the build quality, reliability and UI is awful!

    Apple have the will, the resources and the track record to get it right! Whether you like them or not!

  23. All names Taken
    Facepalm

    Hmmm, I dunno...

    If there were a way to get one box (with permissions) to manage all those other boxes and wires and contractual commitments yet to do so in an easy way it would seem to have some sort of appeal.

    Working methods?

    connect box to tv > switch tv to accept input from new box > enter contract details for cable/satellite/cable tv content provider: Stop > yer dun.

    Do same for satellite (freesat on a sky box anyone? Now nobody really jumps up and down about that do they?)

    Jumping between numerous HD, 3D, SD content providers withOUT the dullingly boring reboots.

    Have different inputs all running concurrently so switching between Sky, Virgin, BT, bluedisk ray thingy doo-dah, standard DVD collection now residing in tiny space on revolving platters in a way that frees up three or four shelves and half a wall ...

    Well, that box would look pretty functionally and I'm sure Apple could make it look pretty elegantly too.

  24. Fuzz

    Content

    The problem will always be content.

    I think Windows Media Centre is a beautiful interface for a PVR. Very easy to get around and makes good use of extra information that can be pulled down from the Internet.

    Problem is I can only use it with Freeview or Freesat. If I want channels from Sky or Virgin I have to use a Sky box or a Virgin box. It doesn't matter that what I have can do everything those boxes do. Their encryption systems won't let me without some sort of hack.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scoop

    Here's a link to a picture taken at a live demonstration of Apple's future TV:

    http://www.dailyapplequiz.com/wp-content/uploads/1984-ad-still.jpg

    And yes, it *will* extend the walled garden.

    Anon for obvious reasons.

  26. Levente Szileszky
    FAIL

    Media Center Extender-like portability for my recorded shows? No way, parasites will never allow it

    As long as we have these parasitic cable providers and copyright (fr)owner "studios" we will never get any decent Media Center-like system.

    I run my own custom-built W7 Media Center w/ CableCARD-based 4-tuner InfiniTV card so I get to record whatever I want including HBO etc (sans on-demand, of course) - but I cannot even watch it on my laptop, using the same LAN, sitting in the same room, nothing nada nil.

    Reasons:

    #1 Retards @MS decided you have to buy their junk console if you just want to have a dumb playback station - aka MC Extender functionality -, another full-blown W7 Ultimate is not good enough. Incompetency at its best, a classic Microsoft gene, as dumb and clueless as possible...

    #2 These parasites at Time Warner put "copy once" broadcats flag on literally EVERYTHING.

    Funny thing is you can actually smash all these worms by simply importing a $150 HDCP-stripper device and capture everything in full 1080p60 and 5.1 sound but the point would be to do it legally and easy, from your couch...

    ...and that's something that will never work until we have this dumb, incompetent, evil parasitic content (re)distribution and I bet Jobs learned this along the way (iTunes, AppleTV etc.)

    TV and movie and the content industry altogether needs a shock, even bigger than miserable torrents can do, to jolt these cockroaches out of their bed so we can get rid of them forever.

    1. dogged

      Using Windows as an Extender

      You can do this by using TweakMCE.

      Here.

      http://www.bg-planet.com/tweakmc/TweakMC_WinSeven.zip

  27. All names Taken

    Uh-huh baby?

    But y'see Sky, BTVision, Virgin, ... are not the content copyright owners. All they do is provide content usually not owned by them (okay, sky sports might be an exception?)

    All the Apple (or anyone?) needs do is provide a box that works under and maintains a paradigm along lines of: I do not know who you are but a valid customer ID and product code has been entered so that content from that provider will be displayed should my master/mistress wish.

    But proprietary-ness will mean BTV shows BTV and not Sky or Virgin (other permutations left to the reader) and all will probably try to shirk FreeX.

    Catchup TV easily peasily?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HDCP

    If we're talking HD streams over HDMI here you won't even be able to record them, not at HD quality anyway, for viewing later, thanks to the joy that is HDCP.

    If Apple TV won't record and you need another box to do that then what's the point? You're right back where you started.

  29. andreas koch
    Facepalm

    iTV

    Will ITV have to change their name?

  30. jubtastic1

    Target Audience

    You Are Not It.

    The reason Apple sells so well is because they make beautiful hardware combined with UI's that don't require the user to be technically minded to use.

    It turns out that the majority of consumers don't want to have to read a manual to use something, they're not curious about what the button with the weird icon does, they never explore menus looking for buried treasure, they just want a hassle free experience, to feel in control of the thing, they hate the idea that they might screw the thing up by pressing the wrong button.

    I think improving TV for joe public is something Apple would excel at, but it all hinges on the content, and sans Jobs, I'm not sure Apple could pull off the deals required to make it possible. Which would be a shame, because where Apple ventures everyone else follows.

    1. Gerry Doyle 1

      The reason that PCs sell even better?

      Is what?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's been more than three days now

    Why hasn't Steve rolled away the stone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      maybe 10-31?

      maybe

  32. Tim

    The problem *does* exist, in the USA at least

    The problem is a two sided coin: price and adverts.

    Pay TV in the USA is ruinously expensive and, excepting sports and a few stand-out series a year, completely shit. Customers pay through the nose to receive a broadcast stream of utter garbage, then gratefully pay a little bit more for the right to record the good stuff. It's like panning for gold, only we have to pay for access to the river, then the water, fox pee and mud in it and finally for the rent of a sieve. Of course adverts mean that each tiny nugget of gold is almost 33% manure anyway, so we have to keep on refining it even after we've fished it out of the river.

    A universal, pan-network, on-demand, over-the-internet streaming TV service would make an almighty killing while saving the consumer a small fortune. I built one myself. While it's not completely wife friendly it's not actively abusive towards her; it aggregtes Netflix, Hulu Plus and some other network-specific streams and it cost me one Mac Mini and a broadband line. TV is so expensive here that it had completely paid for itself within six months: it saves me over $120 a month. I miss out only on some American sports ($120 a month buys a lot of beer in the local bar though), deafening, over-compressed adverts and half-hour infomercials for dubious exercise equipment.

    I would absolutely love to wrap a slick UI around it and have access to everything in one place. The fact that my wife prefers to use VNC to control it from her laptop (and learn all the different channel's interfaces) rather than pay for Time Warner Cable and one of their godawful DVRs tells me all I need to know about how shocking the American TV experience is. Even my doughy, cable-loving friends with their 'man caves', Bud Light fridges and enormous plasmas get interested when I explain exactly how much I'm saving.

    Back in the UK, Sky+ did the job perfectly well. It was good enough and the price was reasonable. Here, entrenched monopolies, rampant greed and a public ignorant of any better way conspire to keep TV a really crappy rip-off. It's a pity, because the good "content" is very very good indeed.

    There's easily as much room for Apple in this market as there was in telecomms.

  33. Jonathon Green
    Black Helicopters

    There's an Elephant in the room...

    ...which nobody seems to have mentioned yet.

    And that's ownership of the EPG. All the content delivery operators (Sky, Virgin, Freeview, whoever) want to retain control of the EPG, both the content and how it's displayed both for brand identity and because prime real estate in the EPG is both a valuable commodity and a powerful marketing tool for pushing their own premium content.

    Want your shiny new TV channel to appear towards the top of Sky's EPG with the big boys ratherthan at the bottom with the wierd foreign language stuff? At the moment it's going to cost you £lots, and even if you're willing to pay for it you might not get it if Rupert's Minions feel it's competition for one of their own offerings.

    If Sky et-al lose control of the EPG (say because someone is able build their own, much nicer UI over the top of it and the metadata behind it) they lose both a direct revenue stream and a powerful promotional tool and somehow I don't see them letting that happen - by and large I believe that's why Sky let TiVo die a lingering death in the UK in favour of their own Sky+ offering, and it's one of the reasons why Virgin Media's TiVo based offering isn't as nice (or as flexible) as The Real Thing was!

  34. Mike S

    its the big computer screen in your living room

    There may be an Apple TV, but it won't be for just watching TV. The TV watching part will be like an iPhone making calls. It will do so, acceptably, but its not anything to write home about.

    If Apple does a TV, it will have Siri, recognize voices from different members of the family, and be more iPad than TV. Interface will primarily be voice, but you can use your iOS device too.

    For most people most of the time, it will be the most expensive picture frame they ever had. But there will be Netflix, iTunes, Facetime, and somehow Angry Birds.

    And there's one more thing... You can watch TV on it! (just plug it in to your set top box and use that box's remote.)

  35. ian 22

    Now you've torn it

    "The iPhone was a success". That should bring out the tendencious!

  36. Christian Berger

    Actually there's a lot wrong with TV

    Though much of it can be solved today by open source solutions.

    One point is of course DRM, which keeps you from actually doing anything with your recordings, like watching them on another device, or making screen shots of it, or uploading a portion of it to Youtube or whatever.

    Then there are non-standard EPGs like the Freesat one which means that if you don't have a licensed receiver, you will only get now & next. (Although to be fair, many non-Freesat receivers actually have so little memory they only store now & next)

    So in a nutshell, there would be a lot of things to be fixed... however I doubt Apple would fix any of those.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Stop

      >One point is of course DRM, which keeps you from actually doing anything with your recordings, like watching them on another device, or making screen shots of it, or uploading a portion of it to Youtube or whatever.

      To be fair - most people don't want to do that. You might. Your friends might but TV is ubiquitous. I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of people just want to watch it. Heck - even PVRs haven't really taken off. Most people still only use them when they have no choice. There's not that many of us that exclusively time shift. For most people even that much planning is too much hassle compared to just switching on and gawping at whatever happens to be showing at the time.

      That isn't to day that I approve of DRM - but I think you're in danger of going the path of Linux. Excellent technology. Infinitely configurable. Hardly anyone wants to be bothered with all that. An important lesson for all would be entrepreneurs - the market doesn't care how technically superior your product is. The market wants it cheap and simple. That's the lesson that Apple has always understood. They just also happen to be clever enough to get the technology pretty much sorted as well.

      1. StooMonster

        Can only agree.

        In my household we time-shift everything, even "live" shows on commercial channels are started watching at later times so the adverts can be skipped and catch-up with live for last segment.

        I assumed everyone was the same as us -- PVR been around for ages and VCR long before that -- until I recently saw the figures for people watching live broadcasts instead of time-shift, box-sets, iPlayer, etc. and discovered that is the vast majority and I am tiny minority.

  37. nick47

    Android TV

    After Apple revolutionise television, I wonder if other companies will bring out their own version of tellys which run on Android, which "borrow" all the ideas that the Apple set introduces, and which all the anti Apple brigade will say is better than Apple! It will be the iPad all over again.

  38. {¯`·.¸_LÅMߤ¥_¸.·´¯}
    FAIL

    ofcom

    in the Uk OFCOM will zoom into action and put a halt to any Apple tv shenanigans. The walled garden will be seen as 'not in the best interests of the users'.

  39. Ray 8
    Mushroom

    iTV

    Imagine the damage a 2 year old could do to a 42 inch ITV Touch screen

  40. lee harvey osmond

    The Steve never bothered with TV

    Good luck to The Steve's heirs and successors, then.

    Apple already has a TV product, the Apple TV. The Steve always discussed it as something of a side project. The Steve himself appears to have never been interested much in broadcast TV. And he always felt DVD as an entertainment delivery format was already on its way out, and that Blu-Ray would be dead on arrival. Maybe that's why the present Apple TV doesn't have an optical drive but is very good at streaming downloaded content that people have paid for.

    The Apple TV might be just the thing in the US market, but it's a damp squib in the UK. In the UK free-to-air broadcast TV is very good (BBC, etc) and because of bandwidth costs streaming and downloads of movies and other content hasn't taken off in the same way -- well, apart from the BBC iPlayer which is a runaway success provided the BBC's servers think you're in the UK when you try to use it. Hi-def digital broadcasting (DVB-T2, Freeview HD ...) is working well for me. DVD is working for me, and soon Blu-Ray will be for me too.

    I don't own an Apple TV, because it doesn't do iPlayer. If it did, iPlayer on its own would be enough to make me buy one. All those people elsewhere in this thread complaining about how many buttons on the remote ... search the web and you'll find blind folk singing The Steve's praises because unlike most media players, the Apple TV's accessibility features are really good. [Those same blind folk then denounce The Steve because the Apple TV doesn't do iPlayer so their accessible device won't let them get at BBC content.]

    Cable and satellite are available to me, both as content delivery mechanisms, and creators of content. I don't subscribe. Other people do. I might subscribe if the free-to-air content wasn't so good in this country. Ditto IPTV, apart from the specific IPTV service I've mentioned.

    Things like the iPod and iPhone succeeded because they were gamechangers. They solved obvious problems, and also bigger problems you didn't know you had. Whatever The Steve was cooking up, it's more than the existing Apple TV with a screen on top, even with a hi-def display on top, and maybe a legacy optical drive and a DVB tuner.

    But for the iPod and iPhone, the game was more or less the same in every country. All that stuff I wrote above about what I can get at, and why The Steve never saw the need in the past to support it because the content being delivered by the equivalent mechanisms in the US wasn't worth the effort. Whatever big thing the notional future Apple TV is going to do, I think it's going to have to be a different thing in every country.

  41. mike panero

    Social

    How do you know what you want to watch?

    200+ channels crowd source your social...

    PING

  42. ks2problema

    Imagine...

    Imagine... a TV... as easy to operate as a computer.

    Magic.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I thought this is what my Dell Dimension 8400 was for.

    I see no use for this thing. What is the purpose of an Television which just merely has what would be an embedded Apple TV Box? The thing is probably going to get expensive when you can get the thrice components (Apple TV, Plasma Screen, and HDMI cable) all probably for less.

  44. Gobhicks
    Happy

    Sony Bravia internet TV (iPlayer, Youtube, LoveFilm etc), D-Link powerline adapters, bog-standard USB HDD + Android Sony Remote Media app... simples (and much more simples than I anticipated). OK, still a way to go in terms of complete access to everything anywhere, but getting easier and cheaper all the time.

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