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Apple's smart TV project - what we (think we) know so far

Ben Camm-Jones | Nov. 28, 2011
It's widely accepted in the technology industry that Apple is working on a smart, internet-connected TV device. But what do we really know about the 'iTV' so far?

It's widely accepted in the technology industry that Apple is working on a smart, internet-connected TV device. But what do we really know about the 'iTV' so far?

There's been a lot of speculation flying around about an Apple TV set for several years, and many times it has been reported that Apple has been on the brink of an announcement - only for our hopes to be dashed at the last minute.

Many analysts and commentators, though, believe that an Apple television set is only a matter of months away. Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has predicted several times now that Apple will launch a smart TV set while Jean-Louis Gasse, a former president of Apple's products division and now a partner with venture capital firm Allegis Capital recently said that such a development has "got to happen".

Steve Jobs' vision

One thing we're fairly certain of is that the idea had become an obsession of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Details from Walter Isaacson's authorised biography reveal that Jobs believed that the company had made a big breakthrough on its path to creating a smart television.

"He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant," Isaacson wrote.

"'I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,' he told me. 'It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.' No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. 'It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.'"

Siri

The simple interface Jobs refers to in Isaacson's biography has been widely assumed to be based around voice controls, similar to Siri, the iPhone 4S' voice-activated personal assistant.

"It's the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk: 'Put on the last episode of Gossip Girl.' 'Play the local news headlines.' 'Play some Coldplay music videos.' Siri does the rest," wrote Nick Bilton in the New York Times.

However, there's some doubt as to whether voice control technology is advanced enough to be the primary control system for a television set, as Ian Paul, writing for Macworld's sister title PC World mentions in his article Apple's Siri-enabled TV: Four problems.

"The fact is, technology fails from time to time. So if Siri can't understand what you mean when you say, 'record Synecdoche tonight' or stops working altogether, you need to have an alternative. Perhaps an iPhone or iPad app would be the answer," Paul writes.

 

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