In Walter Isaacson's biography, poised to be the bestseller this year, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs hinted, just prior to his passing, that work on building a full-fledged television set with a new interface was in full swing. For years, Jobs had also reportedly been pushing engineers at Apple to develop a new interface for living room TVs.
I've finally cracked it! Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson in his biography. If a report by New York Times is to be believed, Jobs was referring to Apple's plans to build a voice-activated TV set; he was talking about Siri, the new built-in digital assistant on the iPhone 4S.
According to the report, engineers and designers at Apple have been working for years to figure out a new interface for the television, and one of the major hurdles they have been facing is the replacement of the awkward and confusing remote control.
Initially, different alternative remote control ideas like a wireless keyboard and iPhone or iPad as a remote came into consideration. But Apple finally ended up with the idea that would allow users to talk to their television set. Thus, the best way out to have been discovered was voice commands through Siri.
Nick Bilton of New York Times said he first heard of plans about Apple's television set over a year ago, when an individual who has knowledge of Apple's prototype supply chains overseas let him know about some large parts that he believed could be part of a large Apple television.
Since then, Bilton started nosing around the story about Apple's work on launching its own TV set. He had been told by several sources at the company that nothing was actively being built at the time. But one individual provided him something that Bilton was exclusively looking for.
Absolutely, it is a guaranteed product for Apple, Bilton was told by the individual. Steve thinks the industry [TV hardware business] is totally broken.
Isaacson was told by Jobs in his biography that an Apple television will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. Bilton concludes that it's Siri that is going to be the main interface in the upcoming Apple TV, which he thinks would likely arrive in early 2013.
According to Bilton, Apple still has quite a bit of work left to do on the project. Apple has expertise in ultra-thin, portable devices like iPhones, iPods and MacBooks, but not in gadgets that can be hung on a wall, Bilton said.
Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said on Tuesday that Jobs was very excited about the prospect of a true Apple TV, however, the project remains held up by content licensing deals that the company feels are necessary to release a competitive product, Apple Insider reported.
According to a Bloomberg report, Jeff Robin, an Apple vice president who helped create both iTunes and the iPod, is leading the company's efforts to produce a connected TV. Citing Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray Cos, the report further stated that Apple has a prototype TV in the works and may introduce a product for sale by late next year or 2013, and the company is likely to introduce the voice-command software Siri and also the Web-storage service iCloud into its future television. The device is also expected to have seamless search functionalities like allowing users to check for their content from multiple locations, including iTunes, Netflix or a cable subscription.