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Archive of Apple TV Rumors

Amid persistant rumors that Apple is developing a revamped Apple TV set-top box, new code appearing in iOS 7.1 indicates that the company is indeed working on building in support for Siri voice input on the Apple TV, as highlighted by 9to5Mac. The references are included in both iOS 7.1 and iOS 7.1.1, but not in earlier releases such as iOS 7.0.6.

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The file is a supporting property-list resource for Assistant (Apple's internal name for Siri), containing information about the feature. The UIDeviceFamily array declares what platforms are compatible with the feature.

As shown by Apple’s documentation, '1' and '2' represent the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad families. The '3' represents the Apple TV family.
References to a new Apple TV model were previously found in iOS 7 builds, and today's information suggests that voice input and feedback are likely to be included on the new device.

Apple's launch plans for a new Apple TV box remain unclear, with rumors of a late 2013 launch giving way to reports centering around an introduction in March or April of this year. Those rumors were then quashed by The Loop's Jim Dalrymple, leaving uncertainty about Apple's television plans. A recent product roadmap prediction from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that the new Apple TV could arrive around September or October of this year.
appletv-326x-tjlOver the weekend, Apple's first-generation Apple TVs were unable to access iTunes, an issue that affected Apple TV owners worldwide.

It appears that Apple has resolved the problem as of Tuesday, with many first-generation Apple TV owners reporting on Apple's Support Communities that their Apple TVs are once again able to access iTunes.

Some iOS users have speculated that the Apple TV downtime, along with the downtime for FaceTime on iOS 6, could be caused by internal communication upgrades related to the Heartbleed security issue, but Apple denied that any of its “key services” were affected by Heartbleed.

Though the first-generation Apple TV appears to be functioning once again, many iOS 6 users are continue to be unable to access FaceTime.
Apple today has added new channels from A&E Networks to its Apple TV, including A&E, The History Channel and Lifetime. Select Apple TV owners will be able to watch episodes from popular TV shows such as Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars, and Project Runway.

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These new channels on the Apple TV offer a preview to all users, but full content is only available to cable television subscribers. Currently, the service is available to customers who subscribe to DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, and Cablevision Optimum, with support for additional providers coming in the near future.

The addition of these channels is part of a larger push by A&E Networks to expand their content beyond broadcast TV. Earlier this month, the network updated both its A&E [iTunes Link] and History Channel apps [iTunes Link], letting iOS owners stream live episodes of popular shows to their iPhone or iPad. Similar to the Apple TV, this iOS-based live streaming requires a valid cable subscription.
appletv-326x-tjlApple's first generation Apple TVs have lost their ability to connect to iTunes and appears to be affecting users worldwide.

A lengthy Apple Discussions page shows that the problem started on the 17th of April and has persisted for 1st generation Apple TV users. Forum poster georgevargas describes the issue:
As of last night I had full access to the iTunes Store. Since this morning I was getting an Itunes Store Not Available message, and after unplugging the AppleTv the iTunes Store access completly disappeared except for movie trailers.
Users have gone through the usual diagnostics, including rebooting and restoring, but have found that nothing has restored connectivity. MacRumors has confirmed the issue on our own 1st generation Apple TV.

The initial timing of the outage corresponds to the FaceTime not working for iOS 6 users, suggesting some internal changes by Apple has affected both services. Some users are speculating that internal communication upgrades related to the Heartbleed security issue could be related. Apple denied that Heartbleed affected any of its "key services" but did not elaborate on what those might be.

Apple has not provided any statement on if and when 1st generation Apple TV functionality will be restored or not. The first generation Apple TV was released in January, 2007 and was sold until September, 2010.

Update 4/22 12:00 PM PT: Apple appears to have resolved the issue preventing first-generation Apple TVs from connecting to iTunes. Many users are reporting that their Apple TVs are once again functional.
Apple is set to release a slew of new products during the third quarter of 2014 according to KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, who often provides reliable information on Apple’s product lineup.

In a 2014 product roadmap, Kuo suggests Apple will introduce its first new product of the year, a lower-cost iMac, during the second quarter. Soon after, during the third quarter, Kuo predicts Apple will introduce an upgraded iPad Air and iPad mini, followed by an iWatch in two separate sizes, and a 4.7-inch iPhone.

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An upgraded Apple TV set-top box will come somewhat later, as will the rumored 12-inch ultra slim MacBook and upgraded Retina MacBook Pros. Later, in the fourth quarter, Apple will introduce the 5.5-inch iPhone, which is said to be delayed due to issues with in-cell display technology. Along with his roadmap, Kuo also gives specific information on each of Apple’s upcoming products.

- iWatch: Kuo believes the iWatch will ship during the end of the third quarter, offering biometric functionality, integration with the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and a "fashionable appearance." As has been previously suggested, he predicts the device will come in two sizes, with a 1.3-inch and 1.5-inch flexible AMOLED display. It will also include a sapphire cover lens, biometric recognition, an NFC chip, wireless charging, a 200 to 250 mAh battery, and a slim and light design. Kuo also believes that Apple will offer the iWatch at multiple price points, with the most expensive version costing upwards of $1,000.

- iPhone 6: Supporting previous iPhone 6 rumors, Kuo believes the device will come in two sizes: 4.7 and 5.5-inches, with resolutions of 1334x750 (326ppi) and 1920 x 1080 (401 ppi), respectively. Both models will come with an A8 processor, 1GB of RAM, LTPS display panels, optical image stabilization, and Touch ID. Kuo points to a 10 to 20 percent narrower bezel, a 6.5–7.0mm thickness, metal casings, and NFC integration. Mass shipments of the 4.7-inch version are expected in September, with the 5.5-inch version shipping later. Kuo suggests that only the 64GB 5.5-inch version will use sapphire displays.

- iPad Air 2: The second-generation iPad Air is expected to adopt Touch ID, an A8 processor, and an improved camera with a resolution of eight megapixels. Kuo believes the second iPad Air could come earlier in the year than the previous iPad Air, which was released in October.

- iPad mini with Retina Display: Like the iPad Air, a new Retina mini could gain an A8 processor and Touch ID, but Kuo believes it will retain the same form factor. He also suggests that the older iPad mini with Retina display could be sold at a lower cost.

- 12.9-inch iPad Pro: Kuo believes that Apple is indeed working on a 12.9-inch iPad, but he does not expect it to be launched in 2014.

- 12-inch MacBook Air: As rumored, Apple is believed to be preparing an ultrathin MacBook Air that incorporates a touchpad without buttons and functions without a fan. It is also expected to include a higher-resolution display.

- iMac: A lower-priced iMac is believed to be on the horizon, which Kuo says could help boost iMac shipments by up to 23 percent. It could be Apple’s first product launch of the year.

- Apple TV: Apple is not expected to launch a full television set this year, but an upgraded set top box with an App Store and motion control technology is expected.

While Kuo’s predictions do include many rumors that have previously surfaced over the past several months from a variety of sources, his roadmap gives a solid overview of what we might expect from Apple in 2014. We've also broken out several of his predictions into individual posts that can be found here: iWatch, iPad, iPhone 6, MacBook Air.
appletv.pngSteve Jobs outlined a potential future for the Apple TV in an email correspondence with top Apple executives in 2010, a year before his death, noting potential plans for the "Apple TV 2" that included TV subscriptions, apps, browser and a "magic wand" control device. The email was published today as a part of Apple's lawsuit trial with Samsung (via The Verge).

8. Apple TV 2 - David Moody, Jeff Robbin
- Strategy: stay in the living room game and make a great "must have" accessory for iOS devices
- sales so far, projections for this holiday season
- add content:
- NBC, CBS, Viacom, HBO, ...
- TV subscription?
- where do we go from here?
- apps, browser, magic wand?

While the potential Apple TV features aren't mentioned in concrete terms, they do provide insight into features Apple was internally discussing and considering in 2010. Additionally, the internal email also confirms that Apple has considered using its patented Nintendo Wiimote-like MagicWand to control Apple TV.

Jobs' email also goes over other subjects for Apple's 2010 Top 100, a secret meeting in which top Apple employees discuss strategy for the upcoming year, including plans for the "plus" iPhone 4 that was eventually named the iPhone 4s and a low cost iPhone model based on the iPod touch that would replace the iPhone 3GS.

Plans for the future of iOS are also mentioned, with Jobs noting that strategy should be to "catch up to Android where we are behind (notifications, tethering, speech...) and leapfrog them (Siri, ...)".

The subject of Apple's now defunct MobileMe service makes up another large part of the email, with Jobs acknowledging that Google was "way ahead of Apple in cloud services" and that both the search giant and Microsoft had better technology than Apple but had not "figured it out yet". The email also notes that Apple's plan was to improve MobileMe to the point where it tied all Apple's products together and made its ecosystem even more "sticky", so that it would be more difficult for customers to leave for a competitor.

Finally, the email makes mention of Apple's desire to further its lead over Google in music and great apps in the App Store as a part of Apple's "holy war" with Google, with mentions for both The Beatles and iTunes in the Cloud.
Earlier today Amazon launched its Fire TV media streaming box, entering a market that features fierce competition from Roku and its streaming boxes, Google's Chromecast and the Apple TV. To help set it apart from its competitors, Amazon included an app store, strong gaming support and much more for its box, which are features that have been heavily rumored for Apple's next generation streaming box.
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While gaming on a media streaming box is nothing new, as Roku has allowed users to play games like Angry Birds on its devices, Amazon has gone through great lengths, including purchasing Killer Instinct game developer Double Helix and reaching out to third-party publishers like EA, Disney, Ubisoft and Minecraft creator Mojang, to bring 133 high quality games to the Fire TV, with more arriving in the future. In addition, they've launched a $39 Xbox-like controller to make it easier for users to play advanced games on the box.

Apple has long been rumored to be including gaming support on the next version of the Apple TV with support for gaming controllers. More recently, Apple and third-party hardware manufacturers have begun shipping iOS 7 game controllers for iPhones, but they've been poorly received due to build quality issues and high price tags.

To power these high quality games, Amazon has outfitted its Fire TV with a quad-core processor, which Amazon says boasts 3 times the power of Apple TV, a dedicated graphics engine and 2 GB of RAM, which is four times the amount in the Apple TV.

While its unclear what specs the new Apple TV could sport, it's likely it gets a significant improvement over the currently used A5 chip to the much more powerful A7 chip, which is used in the iPad Air and would allow developers to easily port over their best-selling iPad and iPhone games and vice versa.

Other rumored changes for the new Apple TV include a brand new interface that blends TV listings with apps and video from the web rather than a the current setup of a grid of app icons. Amazon's Fire TV does something similar according to a hands-on report by The Verge, displaying various movies and TV shows next to apps and games when the device is turned on.


In addition, Apple has been rumored to want to include some sort of Siri-like voice control to allow users to easily navigate through the interface without a remote control. While Roku already had voice control on their media streaming box, Amazon has included voice control "that just works" on its Fire TV remote control, allowing users to bypass typing for voice searches.

However, the largest difference between the new Apple TV and Fire TV could be content. While Amazon says its streaming device is "open" and has an app store, Apple has been long rumored to also include an App Store to allow for a greater variety and quicker access to more "channels" than ever before. While that would put the two boxes at parity, Apple has also been rumored to be discussing a possible partnership with Comcast for a streaming TV service on the new Apple TV, allowing users to switch between live TV via Comcast, a Hulu-like on-demand video service and third-party apps like HBO Go, YouTube and Netflix.

Apple has been rumored to be launching their new Apple TV as early as April.
Speaking at the inaugural Code/Media event held by technology website Re/code (via CNET), Roku CEO and founder Anthony Wood called the Apple TV "a money loser" for Apple, likening the product to an accessory for the iPad and questioning why Apple would want to sell more units of the device. Wood's remarks come as Apple is said to be preparing a new version of the Apple TV that will integrate with Comcast's network to enable a streaming TV service for users.
"Apple TV is essentially an accessory for the iPad. They lose money, which is unusual for Apple," he said Thursday, speaking at the Recode conference here. "If you're losing money, why would you want to sell more?"
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Wood also commented on Amazon's upcoming set-top box debuting next month, as well as overall competition in the set-top media box market:
“Every year about this time, the Amazon box comes up that they’re about to launch. And the new Apple TV is about to launch … We’ve been competing with Apple TV for six years now, and every year, we’ve grown,” Wood told Kafka. ”We’re in the TV platform business. Our goal is to be the operating system for TV.”
The CEO also went on to tell the crowd that sales of the Roku doubled after Apple dropped the price of the Apple TV from $249 to $99 two years ago. Wood's comments are notable given that the Apple TV reportedly generated $1 billion last year, which was revealed by Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company's 2014 shareholder's meeting.

Roku refreshed its set-top box line with three new models joining its flagship Roku 3 last September, and also introduced a $50 HDMI streaming-stick to compete directly with Google's Chromecast and the Apple TV. Despite the Apple TV's growing popularity, however, a report last August from Parks Associates indicated that the Roku has proven to be more popular than Apple's set top box, as 14% of U.S. broadband households were said to be using streaming media boxes.

Apple is expected to launch a new Apple TV sometime in the near future, with some rumors pointed to a refined set-top box that may include gaming and cable box-like capabilities in addition to the aforementioned streaming TV integration.

A report from
The Information also added details to the forthcoming device, claiming that it will feature a dramatically overhauled interface, which will blend TV listings with apps and video from the web, with Apple asking iOS game developers to make their titles compatible with its new product so that users can play games on their TV using iOS devices as controllers.
With rumors of a revamped Apple TV circulating over the past few months, German magazine Curved has been exploring some concepts to help get discussion rolling, beginning earlier this month with a new box similar to the current one but with styling similar to Apple's latest iOS devices and with a versatile iPod touch-like remote.

In its latest concept, Curved follows the trend of Google's Chromecast, Roku's Streaming Stick, and Amazon's rumored device to picture the next Apple TV as a simple dongle that plugs into an HDMI port on the back of the user's television set.

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"Apple TV Air" concept (bottom) size comparison with current Apple TV and remote (top)

The concept envisions the "Apple TV Air" package containing two similarly sized devices: the dongle with a cap for the HDMI connector and a separate remote offering the same button configuration as on the current Apple TV remote. Both devices would be made of plastic to allow for a Bluetooth wireless connection to control the dongle hidden away behind the television set.

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"Apple TV Air" dongle plugged into HDMI port

Apple has been rumored to be exploring a number of enhancements to the Apple TV, including enhanced game support that could see the launch of an App Store for the device. Apple has also been rumored to be looking at integrating AirPort base station functionality for the next Apple TV. Depending on how aggressive Apple wants to be with the new device's capabilities, it may be a stretch for the company to fit all of the necessary components into a dongle, but Curved's concept serves as a good focal point for discussion about directions Apple could take.
Apple is in talks with Comcast about using the cable provider's network for a streaming TV service to be integrated in a future version of the Apple TV, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to the report, Apple's set top-box would be able to access Comcast's wide variety of channels for a monthly subscription, with the Apple TV receiving "special treatment" from Comcast when connected to its cable network to ensure that it would bypass congestion on the Internet for optimal streaming.

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Apple's intention is to allow users to stream live and on-demand TV programming and digital-video recordings stored in the "cloud," effectively taking the place of a traditional cable set-top box.

...Under the plan Apple proposed to Comcast, Apple's video streams would be treated as a "managed service" traveling in Internet protocol format—similar to cable video-on-demand or phone service. Those services travel on a special portion of the cable pipe that is separate from the more congested portion reserved for public Internet access.

People familiar with the matter said that while Apple would like a separate "flow" for its video traffic, it isn't asking for its traffic to be prioritized over other Internet-based services.
The report also adds that Apple and Comcast are still in early discussions, and that Apple's ultimate goal would be to ensure that Apple TV users receive the same quality that Comcast's regular cable boxes receive. Apple has proposed to Comcast that users would sign onto the new device using an existing or new Apple ID, and asked for a cut of the monthly subscriptions paid for by customers.

Apple has traditionally positioned the Apple TV as a "hobby product" with occasional refreshes adding new features. In January 2014 however, Apple revamped its online storefront adding a new category for the Apple TV alongside the categories for the Mac, iPhone, and iPod product lines suggesting that the product may be moving out of the hobby status assigned to it.

CEO Tim Cook also revealed during the company's 2014 shareholders meeting that the Apple TV generated $1 billion last year, noting it was "a little more difficult to call [the Apple TV] a hobby these days" given its growth.

Apple is expected to launch a new Apple TV sometime in the near future, with some rumors pointing to a refined set-top box that may include gaming and cable box-like capabilities. The move would also come as Comcast announced that it would be merging with Time Warner Cable in February, which Apple was reported to be in talks with for quite some time to provide TV shows and other media.

Update: The Information has shared more details on Apple's future set-top box, stating that the device will feature a "dramatically overhauled interface" which will blend TV listings with apps and video from the web. The report also notes that the next-generation Apple TV will place a "big emphasis" on gaming, with Apple asking developers of iOS games to make their titles compatible with its new product so that users can play games on their TV screen using iOS devices as controllers.
The Atlantic Coast Conference and college sports site Campus Insiders have teamed up to launch a new "ACC Sports" channel for the Apple TV today, offering video highlights, features, and other clips related to the conference's 15 member schools. A separate Campus Insiders tab within the app includes a smaller amount of content from other college athletic conferences around the country.

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The channel does not currently offer any live video content, although it is certainly possible such offerings could be added in the future.

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Campus Insiders has agreements with a number of college conferences to offer live video streaming of certain competitions in a variety of sports through the firm's website, and the launch of an ACC Sports channel for Apple TV could be a prelude to a broader effort by Campus Insiders that would be able to bring streaming of these events directly to Apple's set-top box.

Today's launch is the latest in a long line of new Apple TV channels introduced over the last months as Apple has worked to rapidly expand content available on the set-top box. New Apple TV 6.1 software released last week makes it easier for users to hide unwanted channels from the main Apple TV screen, helping them manage the growing number of available channels. Apple has also been rumored to be on the verge of introducing a revamped version of the Apple TV, perhaps opening it up to third-party developers to support games and other apps.
According to a passage from Yukari Kane's upcoming book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, in 2010, Steve Jobs told Apple executives that the company would not be releasing a television. Business Insider relays the exchange which occurred at Apple's 2010 "Top 100" retreat for Apple executive, managers and employees.


The attendees of the Top 100 retreat would hear presentations of Apple's business and often be exposed to new Apple products. The contents of the meeting are supposed to remain secret. The last day of the meeting, Jobs offered to answer any questions, and someone asked if Apple was going to release a television next.
Yukari says "Jobs didn't hesitate." He said, "No."

"TV is a terrible business. They don't turn over and the margins suck," said Jobs. (Unlike iPhones which are wildly profitable and replaced every two years, a TV gets replaced every 8 years, and isn't all that profitable.)
Jobs reportedly went on to say that he did want to control the living room, but that the current Apple TV set-top-box would remain a hobby until Apple was able to get the the content it needed.

There was apparently some disagreement amongst attendees if Jobs was sincere in his comments. Back in 2003, Jobs had told reporters that he didn't feel that Apple could add much value to mobile phones. The iPhone was announced four years later. Meanwhile, it's been three years since this statement, and other reports, including Steve Jobs' biography attributes comments from Jobs that he had "finally cracked" the difficulties in building an Apple television set. Meanwhile, Tim Cook also has made comments more recently that TV remains an "intense interest" for Apple, though that may refer to enhancing the Apple TV set-top-box experience than releasing a full-scale television.
When the Apple TV was updated to version 6.1 earlier this week, it was initially thought that there were minimal changes outside of the ability to hide icons in the main menu. However, a new report from AFP548 (via Daring Fireball) indicates that Apple also enabled AirPlay device discovery over Bluetooth as well.
Here’s one that will make educators and education network administrators realllllly happy. There’s a hidden gem in the AppleTV 6.1 update that was released today.

In addition to bonjour negotiation for AirPlay, iOS 7.1 devices will also look for AirPlay sources over bluetooth when doing it’s scan! This means you do NOT need bonjour to AirPlay.

appletvbluetoothImage via AFP548

This change allows Apple TV to search for connectable devices over Bluetooth, bypassing Bonjour and making it easier for education and business administrators to set up iOS device and Apple TV pairings. Previously, Apple TVs could have a difficult time discovering devices on networks that might block Bonjour.

The new feature has three requirements: an Apple TV updated to 6.1, an iOS device updated to 7.1, and IP connectivity between both devices. AFP548 found during its testing that the feature doesn't yet support Macs, but that the ability could be added in a future update.

Apple TVs have become an important replacement for traditional projectors in both educational and business settings, and these changes are likely to make it even easier for administrators to consider switching to Apple's solution.
In preparation for this week's iTunes Festival at South by Southwest (SXSW) 2014, Apple has expanded its Apple TV lineup to include a revamped iTunes Festival channel that allows users to live stream the concert's shows as well as view lineups and artist information.

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The channel showcases artists who will be performing at the festival such as Kendrick Lamar, Coldplay, and Keith Urban, complete with artist bios and concert showtimes. Direct iTunes links to artist albums are featured as well, along with full details on opening acts.

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Apple also updated its iTunes Festival app for iOS last week, which introduced a new design and a revamped icon. Apple announced last month that it would be expanding its iTunes Festival to the U.S. for the first time, as five shows will be held from March 11-15 at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas as a part of the film and music-focused SXSW event.
Earlier today, reports indicated Apple's $25 gift card with the purchase of an Apple TV promotion could be an effort to clear out stock ahead of an imminent updated Apple TV launch, but notable Apple journalist Jim Dalrymple has said that is not the case.

According to one of his famous "Nope" posts, Apple does not have plans to release a new Apple TV in the immediate future. Specifically, Dalrymple clarified to MacRumors that the company is not on the verge of launching a revamped Apple TV next week, but he does not appear to refute reports suggesting a redesigned box could come in later in the year, possibly ahead of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference.

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While the promotion led to some chatter about an immediate Apple TV product launch, the majority of Apple TV reports over the course of the last month or two have pointed towards a revamped Apple TV that might be revealed at some point in March or April. Bloomberg has suggested the new Apple TV could be revealed in April with a launch coming later in the year, while the Financial Times has just released a similar report pointing towards a launch ahead of WWDC in June.

Though an updated Apple TV will not come in the immediate future, a launch later in the year has not been ruled out. It is clear that Apple is working on some kind of update to the product, with rumors hinting at the new Apple TV gaining gaming support and possibly a full App Store.
appletv.pngApple's much-rumored revamped Apple TV product will be revealed "any week now" according to a new report from the Financial Times, though notable Apple journalist Jim Dalrymple poured water on a separate report, saying an Apple TV will not be launching soon.

Though a launch date is uncertain, rumors have indicated the redesigned Apple TV product will include support for games, which the Financial Times confirms. It may also include a fully-fledged App Store, bringing apps to the set-top box for the first time.
The significantly redesigned hardware will include greater support for video-games, already a popular pastime on its iPhones and iPads, as well as other new features which could include bringing its App Store to the TV set for the first time.

The release, which was delayed from the end of last year, could come "any week now", this source said. Apple has not commented on the rumours.
Rumors of a revamped set-top box first begun appearing in early 2013, with TechCrunch's MG Siegler pointing towards an Apple TV product with a focus on gaming. Later in the year, hints of a delay surfaced, and it appears that the product was indeed scheduled for a 2013 launch that was later pushed back to 2014.

A recent report from Bloomberg suggested Apple was on the verge of revealing a new set-top box, possibly at some point in April, but indicated an actual product launch might come somewhat later in the year, which could potentially account for the discrepancy between launch reports from the Financial Times and other media outlets and a "Nope" from Jim Dalrymple.

In addition to games and support for Apple's iOS 7 controllers, other Apple TV rumors have pointed to a hardware product that combines the Apple TV with the router features of the existing AirPort Express. It has also been suggested that Apple is planning to work in conjunction with cable companies to build an Apple TV interface over existing cable content, essentially replacing the cable box.

Earlier today, Tim Cook told shareholders that the Apple TV generated $1 billion during 2013, counting hardware sales and movie/TV show rentals. He also noted that it was "a little more difficult to call [the Apple TV] a hobby these days" given its ever-increasing growth.

The company has also began offering a $25 gift card with the purchase of an Apple TV, possibly in an effort to clear out existing inventory ahead of a new product launch, and the Apple TV has also gained its own product section on Apple's online storefront.
During Apple's annual stockholders meeting in Cupertino today, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple sold more than $1 billion worth of its Apple TV set-top box in 2013, putting sales at close to 10 million units for the year.

This is a roughly double the 5 million it sold in fiscal 2012, which was double its Apple TV sales in 2011. Cook has traditionally called the Apple TV a "hobby", but said today that "it's a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days". Horace Dediu created a chart showing the impressive growth of Apple TV sales over the past several years, making it the fastest growing device in Apple's hardware lineup.

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It has been repeatedly rumored that Apple is working on an improved set-top box and also a full-fledged television set. A new set-top box is expected to be introduced in the next couple of months, though it's unclear when the device itself would go on sale. A recent report said Apple would be introducing an SDK for Apple TV application development with an accompanying App Store launching to the public later in 2014.

Apple also launched a sale on the Apple TV at the company's online and retail outlets in the U.S., giving out a $25 iTunes Gift Card with purchase of the $99 device -- an unusual move for the company which only rarely offers sales on its devices.

Update 11:21AM: Re/code's Peter Kafka says the $1 billion number includes content sales on the Apple TV box, including movie rentals and TV show purchases.
apple_tv_buy_99With rumors of a new Apple TV set-top box swirling, Apple's brick and mortar stores have launched a one-week promotion offering customers who purchase the current model a $25 iTunes Store gift card, reports 9to5Mac.

The promotion naturally sparks speculation that Apple is trying to clear stock of the current model ahead of new hardware. A recent report from Bloomberg claimed, however, that while Apple was aiming for an April introduction of the new Apple TV, a launch would not come until much later in the year around the holiday shopping season.

The Apple TV recently received added prominence in the Apple online store with its own major heading as opposed to its previous placement as an accessory, suggesting that Apple may be laying the groundwork to move the Apple TV from its longtime "hobby" status to a full-fledged product on par with its other lines.

Apple has reportedly considered a new set-top box that would combine the features of the current Apple TV with the Wi-Fi router features of the existing AirPort Express. The new Apple TV could also leverage iOS devices and Bluetooth accessories as game controllers for a potential Apple TV App Store, while also adding an Apple software layer on top of users' existing cable television services. Apple has also reportedly been in talks with Time Warner Cable about a potential content deal.

The new gift card offer on the existing Apple TV runs through March 5 and is currently not offered on the Apple online store. As with all iTunes gift cards, the credit can be used in any of Apple's digital content stores, including the iTunes Store, App Store, Mac App Store, and iBooks Store.

Update 8:20 AM: Apple has now posted the Terms and Conditions [PDF] for the offer, indicating that it is valid both in-store and online, but only in the United States.

Update 3:07 PM: Notable Apple journalist Jim Dalrymple has said that a new Apple TV release is not imminent despite the gift card promotion.
World Wrestling Entertainment today announced that its WWE Network channel is now live on the Apple TV and its updated WWE app is available in the iOS App Store [Direct Link]. WWE subscribers will have full access to the 24/7 live streaming network, which includes replays of classic matches, pay-per-view events like WrestleMania and other original programming.
"Today is a historic day for WWE as we transform and reimagine how we deliver our premium live content and 24/7 programming directly to our fans around the world," said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. "WWE Network will provide transformative growth for our company and unprecedented value for our fans."
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At launch, WWE Network programming is available only to U.S. customers, with access coming to other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Nordics before early 2015. The service requires a $9.99 monthly subscription with a six-month minimum commitment. Customers can demo the channel using a free one-week trial, which is available for a limited time.

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Fans can sign up for the newly launched WWE Network on the service's website or via iTunes from the Apple TV or WWE app. Customers who signup for the WWE Network automatically receive one free week before they are billed for the service.
appletv.pngApple's plans for its revamped Apple TV have been scaled back compared to what the company had previously intended, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to the publication, Apple was originally approaching media companies directly to obtain content rights for an ambitious a-la-carte-Internet-enabled TV set-top box, but has since gone in a different direction.
In the current discussions, which involve at least two big media companies, Apple envisages working with cable companies, rather than competing against them, the people said. For programming, it would rely on cable providers to acquire programming rights from media companies, rather than acquire them on its own, the people said. Apple might consider seeking some rights directly in the future, one of the people said.
Apple had been trying to negotiate with companies like CBS and Disney to offer the networks' content directly to Apple customers over the Internet, cutting out cable and satellite providers like Comcast, Time Warner and DirecTV. However, the media companies consistently pulled out of negotiations, fearing that any potential deal with Apple could damage their revenue streams.

Apple's ambitious plans went even further, as the company hoped to erase the distinction between live and on-demand TV, allowing users to watch any show at any time via iCloud as well as being able to skip commercials. In addition, Apple explored the possibility of paying media companies more for ad-free TV.

Having abandoned those lofty ideas in the face of failed negotiations, Apple is now asking content providers for the last five episodes of any given show rather than an entire season. This structure is similarly used by Hulu and is considered a standard amongst TV show streaming services.
Apple's latest approach is far less ambitious. Instead of asking for full current seasons of shows, it is asking programmers for just the most recent five episodes of current-season shows—the standard for video-on-demand services in the TV industry, a person familiar with the matter said. Apple is also proposing to disable fast-forwarding on shows for three days after they air, which would protect TV channels.
The Wall Street Journal also suggests that it is unclear whether Apple will sell its own box or allow cable distributors to lease boxes to customers when the company is able to establish a deal for a television service.

Apple has long been in negotiations with Time Warner Cable for some sort of television-related product, with a recent report suggesting talks are ongoing. Apple may run into some trouble reaching a deal with TWC, however, as Comcast has reportedly inked a deal to purchase the company.

Apple may be planning to unveil a redesigned Apple TV box in April, which is rumored to include both app and game support, but it is unclear whether that product will also offer new television-related content.