While the best of us are busy scrutinizing Apple’s Event invitation for cabalistic symbols and hints on the nature of iPad 3, I’m more interested in what will become of Apple TV and what can happen if Apple gets serious about its hobby.
Steve Jobs’ legacy is undeniable – both in innovative products and a company that thinks differently. Apart from thinking, Apple is also good at selling; it’s already the world biggest computer and smartphone manufacturer, and the company is growing quickly. What kind of innovation does it have to bring now to sustain such growth?
When we’re not sleeping, we’re usually in front of our computer – both for work and leisure, and most modern PCs work well for this. After staring at a laptop’s screen all day, people would put it on the kitchen table for the evening and then take it to bed.
When I got an iPad, I thought I would be mostly carrying it around, while relying on my MacBook at home. Instead, the vast amount of time with my iPad is spent in the kitchen watching tv series, or on the couch, reading articles and surfing. It’s just so much more comfortable for those tasks.
It’s ideal for leisure, and even works as a psychological divide for some – work while you’re at your computer, rest with an iPad.
It’s probable that Apple decides to turn the iPad into a mega remote control for the new Apple TV and let live television be the main selling point for the new device. But what if didn’t end there?
The Apple TV connected to a bigger screen, with or without an iPad or iPhone, can be the ultimate entertainment system – should apple want to make it into one.
Such a device should be able to work on its own, and be a possible “first product”, just like iPad or a Mac is today. The App Store should enable it to run a range of apps, even storing the apps’ data on its own memory.
This is a huge opportunity, and Apple clearly sees it, but the tools they offer now are far from being ideal. Photostream does not live up to the expectations and only works on a Mac with iPhoto or Aperture, and videos still have to be imported using a cable, etc. “iBox” (it clearly wouldn’t be a TV set) could read the photos and videos from memory cards or usb, and suck the rest from the cloud, always in sync and with non-desctructive edits.
Music and video content
App Store on the device would enable it to run pandora, spotify, hulu, or whatever other streaming service you can think of. iTunes Store video content, including iTunes University, could remember playing position across all devices.
Remote control and voice input
Maybe shouting commands across the room would be strange, but what if iPhone could tell the iBox what to do? You could ask Siri to play your favorite song on large speakers, or switch the movie to a bigger screen.
One could argue that you can achieve almost all of it by slapping boxee software on a Mac mini, but that’s not so. Controlled user experience has always been Apple’s strength, and managing media centers with full-size keyboard and torrent downloaders is not elegant, and not something you can easily control.
Live TV, all your media, and the App Store on an easy to use living room device could be another thing Steve Jobs finally “cracked”, and I would be the first to buy one.