New code has been found deep within the iOS 5 file system suggesting that Apple is working on a new generation of the Apple TV. The discovery was made by 9to5Mac, and shows a reference to an Apple TV 3,1.
The new referenced model would be an upgrade from the current 2,1 marking the currently shipping Apple TV units, and a change from 2 to 3 represents a significant upgrade from the current unit.
Rumors of an Apple TV capable of full 1080p playback running on Apple’s dual-core A5 chip have been surfacing for some time now, and it’s unlikely that Apple would release a new Apple TV model without significant internal hardware upgrades. It may also signify that 1080p HD iTunes content could arrive ahead of the release of the new model.
It’s also worth noting that many devices that appear within the iOS file system are never produced, and can reflect internal testing or development units rather than products that are actually being planned. However, considering that many have been hoping for a full HD Apple TV, and the fact that such upgrades would improve the device’s ability to handle wireless AirPlay streaming, I’d consider the update likely.