I’m sure some of you will remember Apple’s short-lived attempt to produce a gaming console back in the mid 1990’s. They called the device the Pippin, it only sold 42,000 units, and it got itself listed in PC World’s Worst 25 Tech Products of All Time. According to recent reports, however, Apple may be giving the concept another try, this time through the Apple TV!
Some might argue that Apple has already established itself quite well in the gaming arena through the iPhone and iPod touch, and to some extent I agree – but they still do not yet have an entry in the popular television-based console race. This will be interesting to watch unfold (if it does, in fact, unfold), as the inclusion of gaming will almost certainly also entail the introduction of the App Store on the Apple TV, effectively making the device the most modular set-top box of all time, capable of driving content from any number of providers, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Twitter, Facebook, etc ad nauseum.
According to Engadget, the original reporters of this interesting tidbit, the latest iOS 4.3 beta includes a number of hidden references to gaming on the Apple TV, including a framework for a controller (although personally, I’d love the ability to use my iPhone as the controller!), leaderboards (perhaps via Game Center), a game scheduling mechanism (perhaps for multiplayer support), and a store front (Tada! App Store). Check out the shot below (credit: Engadget) for a neat view of some of the suspicious code.
Engadget also speculates that the Apple TV could be used as a streaming gaming platform, similar to the OnLive Service currently available for the Mac, where games are stored on the cloud rather than stored locally. While this would be a truly awesome feature, and would enable much more robust games (providing you have the internet connection to handle it). Personally, I’m hoping for both both capabilities to exist – the ability to store my NetFlix, Hulu+, and Pandora apps (and a copy of Angry Birds, of course), as well as the ability to stream games via the cloud (although this would likely come as a subscription/purchase model, similar to the already existing OnLive).
I could also imagine the use of several apps being adapted from the iPhone (such as LogMeIn or some other VNC-Type client, or even an app to bring McTiVia-type functionality) to allow you to stream your Mac’s screen directly to the Apple TV wirelessly, and remote-control your Mac and all it’s content, effectively turning your HDTV into a super-display for your Mac, all without wires and with the level of blissful ease you could only expect from Apple.
The Apple TV saw it’s last refresh/relaunch in September, so if such features did come to the AppleTV, I’d expect it to arrive by then at the very latest, although it might (as the software update suggests) be a simple matter of updating your firmware. I, for one, would purchase an Apple TV immediate and without hesitation the moment I saw these features arrive on the platform.
As with all rumors, nothing is official until it is announced officially by Apple, and it’s unclear how many of these features would arrive in the event than such an update occurred. But I, for one, am optimistic about this – it seems right up Apple’s alley, would shut up the whiners criticizing Apple for not having a “true” media center experience, and would make a lot of people (who have been waiting for this for a very long time) very, very happy.
Please feel free to chime in – what features do you want to see come to the Apple TV? Do you think this update is like, or are we all just blowing smoke over nothing? We’d love to hear from you!