Apple TV concept mock up image by Martin Hajek
Apple TV hasn’t been updated for three years, but speculation is mounting that Apple will be announcing a re-launch of the service this June at the Apple Worldwide Developers Convention.
Apple TV is a small box that plugs into your regular TV and wirelessly streams TV programs, movies and iTunes music. The new version of Apple TV is said to be redesigned, have a new operating system and inbuilt app store where users can find games, access to content from TV networks and social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter. The updated set top box will also include Siri voice recognition assistant and HomeKit which allows users to control their lighting and heating, turning the box into an automation hub.
The new Apple TV set top box is likely to be a bigger model to make room for new internals and an improvement on the current 8GB of memory. There is also rumoured to be a new software kit for developers so that they can design apps specifically for the Apple TV, which may include news streaming or in depth games.
Apple is also rumoured to be planning its own online streaming service for the TV which will allow users to stream TV programmes from 25 channels through their Apple TV boxes, iPads and iPhones. Although no firm details are currently available, it’s likely that you’ll need a subscription to view the Apple TV online streaming service which will cost around $35 per month. Well watched channels such as ABC, CBS, Fox and ESPN may be available through the service, which will drop lesser known channels that aren’t often watched through cable packages in order to keep content interesting and relevant.
A similar web based service called Sling TV from company Dish is being planned which costs $20 a month and allows users to stream content from channels such as Cartoon Network, CNN and Adult Swim. It sounds incredibly similar to the new Apple TV online streaming service and would be unlikely to compete with the likes of Apple if the rumours are true.
At the same time as cutting the Apple TV’s price from $99 to $69 earlier this year, the company also announced that device owners in the US can watch popular series such as Game of Thrones through their Apple TV accounts as Apple was able to secure early access to the upcoming HBO Now app streaming service.
Apple has been in talks with media channels such as 21st Century Fox, FX and ESPN in the hopes of getting them on board for the re-launch of Apple TV. Apple and Comcast, the company who runs channels such as NBC and Bravo, fell out last year after discussions over a streaming service that would enable Apple TV boxes to avoid web congestion so Comcast-owned networks will not be included.
It has also recently been announced that YouTube is planning to offer a subscription service which will allow ad-free video viewing for users who pay a monthly fee. These new services come at a time when focus has shifted from live TV and cable packages to online on demand viewing services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
There has been an upsurge in popularity of these services, as well as online ‘catch up’ streaming services for specific channels that allow the viewer to pick and choose their favourite programs without having to stick to a TV schedule. Apple TV is currently the third most popular streaming service in the US, just behind Roku and Google Chromecast according to the director of research at Parks Associates. With new features and functionality it may be able to climb higher in the list by offering an all round service for streaming, catch up and on demand.
It’s currently unknown whether the new Apple TV streaming services will be available outside of the US but the redesigned Apple TV set top box is likely to be available to buy in September.