For the past few months, the Internet has been awash with the news of Apple and their Apple TV product. Rumours seem to be sprouting up everywhere, some stating their living room product is due to be refreshed in September this year, while others are leading us to believe the product refresh is going to be kept under wraps until 2016.
Considering the current Apple TV (3rd gen. Rev A) has been on the shelves since early 2013, it seems that we should be expecting to see a refresh sooner rather than later, and this is what the majority of the rumours tend to lean towards, especially since the price of the Apple TV has dropped in recent months.
According to several sources, we can expect to see the 4th generation model next month, which will be based on an iOS 9 system, with a customised interface. The A5 chip in the current model will be replaced by a far more impressive A8 chip, the same piece of hardware powering the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, allowing for greater performance by the streaming device.
Rumours are also suggesting the remote has been "drastically improved" with the inclusion of a touch-pad input, and the ability to use TouchID, giving the platform an extra level of ease and security. Voice support is expected to be a feature in the updated model, with Siri being added to the newer version.
Developers might also have something to cheer for this time around, with rumours suggesting Apple is finally going to produce an SDK for the device, along with an accompanying App Store, allowing users to expand their library of apps for TV play.
With the release of an SDK and App Store, it gives video content providers the ability to release their own channels without having to rely on Apple to make it happen on their behalf. For indie developers, it brings a new platform for interactive television, with possibilities such as better sportsday involvement, gambling, fantasy drafts, chat functionality, shopping, and even games for all of the family to enjoy.
While the possibilities of an SDK could be potentially endless, we must first wait and see what Apple will allow the developer to do on the device, and what access rights they would have to video streaming through various channels and other potentially useful information for a great user experience.
One of the items that could potentially hold back the release of the Apple TV, is the subscription service. With Apple Music now out in the open, it seemed to be quite rushed to many reviewers, with statistics pointing to a rather large drop in user retention after the first few weeks of release.
Though the service has a good selection of curated content, radio station and even a social aspect, it still seems to fall far behind the current champion in the streaming space, Spotify.
Seeing as Apple is currently losing market share in the TV set-top box sector, with the likes of Roku slowly claiming their customer base, Tim Cook and the other execs must know it will take something special to convince current and potential customers to ride the Apple bandwagon into the future, and the focus on user experience over the past decade only solidifies this.