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Entries in Apple TV (4)

Apple's iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 launch event to be streamed live!

We have a suspicion there's going to be lot's of new toys (hardware and software) for creative iPad owners to play with after tonight's show. Be sure to tune-in

New iPads are a given, but we are also expecting updated iLife apps, plus some kind of iPad cover which could be a bit special given that Apple alluded to it in the teaser invite.

Apple TV fans will be hoping for a serious update to the Apple TV software and perhaps new hardware. A full blown App Store of its own plus game controller support would open up a brand new market for Apple and please many iOS gamers.

Only a few hours until we find out!

Raspberry Pi. The fruity computer that's even more exciting than the iPad

In terms of new technology there's a lot to look forward to in 2012. Your TV might become a little more useful thanks to a new Apple TV. Your iPad screen is likely to become as clear as ink on paper courtesy of the iPad 3 with its Retina display. Early previews of iOS 6 are likely to bring a whole host of refinements that bring it even closer to the functionality of OS X. All good things, we're sure you'll agree. But all those developments, as exciting as they are, will be shadowed by what we consider to be one of the most important product launches of the last ten years.

A powerful computer for less than the cost of a decent meal

Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer that will retail for just £16 ($25). It's powered by a chipset designed by Broadcom (the BCM2835 to be precise) that is powerful enough to perform many some common computing tasks and tackle almost any media file, including 1080p video at Blu-ray quality. Despite its tiny price tag, Raspberry Pi includes many of the ports of a regular computer, including USB, SD, HDMI, and on the slightly more expensive version, Ethernet. Designed as an entry level computer to encourage children to start coding and generally tinker with computing hardware, we think Raspberry Pi will likely appeal to a much larger audience.

To demonstrate why, we've included at the head of this post a video demonstration of Raspberry Pi functioning as an AirPlay receiver, playing back full 1080p video streamed from an iOS device. At just £16 it might be worth introducing the Raspberry Pi to just about every TV in the house.

From personal computing to ubiquitous computing

The iPad is just about the most personal computer we know of, but Raspberry Pi represents the beginning of a different age, the age of ubiquitous computing. Imagine a computer with 10 times the power of the Raspberry Pi but at 1/10th of the cost and probably 1/10th of the size, that's where this is heading, and probably within just a handful of years. What will this mean for you and I? We don't honestly know, and that's why we are so excited about Raspberry Pi, what programmers do with this first generation model will give us a good glimpse into the future of ubiquitous computing.

Why mention the Raspberry Pi on an iPad focused website?

There are several reasons why we mention the Raspberry Pi here. Firstly, with its AirPlay ability we see the Raspberry Pi as being a great companion computer to the iPad. Sure the next Apple TV unit is likely to be considerably more powerful than the Raspberry Pi, but it's unlikely to be as flexible. Secondly, as two geeks who grew up at a time when kids all over the UK spent a good deal of their time learning how to programme their own personal computers, we would love to see a return to that important hobby in the coming decade. It's a form of creativity that will be forever baked into our psyche and we can't wait to see its triumphant return!

Apple TV. Apple's next blockbuster device

Since September of last year the pieces have gradually fallen into place. Sometimes it's just a small piece of the puzzle, like the discovery of Bluetooth keyboard support in the latest beta build of the Apple TV firmware. Apple's wireless AirPlay Mirroring, again a feature of the forthcoming iOS 5, is an example of larger piece of the puzzle that is about to drop into place.

We think Apple TV may well become Apple's next blockbuster device and here's why.

The best screen in your home is wasted

That huge 1080p flat panel display in the corner of your lounge is largely wasted. Sure it provides hours of passive entertainment but it could be used for so much more. Your TV is probably the highest quality monitor in your house, but for the most part it's just a television. Apple TV can change that. We've been playing with AirPlay Mirroring, using the iOS 5 beta to wirelessly stream the iPad display to our Apple TV in realtime. It works well, and makes us realise just how useful a proper App Store equipped iOS TV device would be.

The hardware is finally in place

The computing hardware that powers the iPad 2 is as powerful as a $1000 PC from just a few years ago. The next iOS Apple chipset is likely to be broadly comparable to the PS3 or XBOX 360. By foregoing any kind of moving parts and by using their own hardware and software engineering Apple should be able to offer a powerful lounge computer for a faction of the cost of a regular PC, enabling them to undercut the three major home consoles.

Lounge apps

Once Apple open up the Apple TV by giving it an App Store of its own, legions of iOS developers will swarm all over it. At just $99, the Apple TV could could become Apple's highest selling iOS device. We can see a whole new class of app being popular on the Apple TV; lounge apps that combine video, social media and gaming in a way that isn't really viable on the iPhone or even the iPad. Games and video on demand apps will prove to be the most popular class of Apple TV apps for some time to come. Lounge apps could be the next gold rush for developers.

The final hurdle

Apple must rue the day that it passed up the technology behind Microsoft's Kinect console control system. 3D gesture based interaction is ideally suited to many lounge apps and providing an alternative input method that doesn't encroach on the Kinect patents whilst providing the Apple TV with a truly natural interface must be one the greatest challanges that the Apple TV team face. Bluetooth keyboard and joypad support will only get Apple so far, more is needed. Using a iPhone or iPad based app to control the Apple TV is probably the simplest solution in the short term, but we are rather hoping that Apple will go further.

Apple TV has serious potential. The pieces are falling into place month-by-month. What was once just a hobby may soon become a significant additional revenue stream for Apple and iOS developers.

Apple update their Remote app to version 2.0

Apple updated their iTunes and Apple TV Remote app yesterday making it compatible with the new Apple TV but also adding some important new features.

The most important new feature is comprehensive support for the iPad. Whether you are using Remote to control your Mac iTunes library or a new Apple TV we are confident that you'll love the new interface which mimics iTunes almost exactly. Genius Mixes and Genius Playlists, iTunes DJ, Podcasts, TV Shows, it's all there.

There are a couple of improvements that we would like to see and also a totally new feature we think should be incorporated. The is no support for iTunes radio stations and there is no drag and drop creation of new playlists, you can create playlists and add songs to an existing playlist but drag and drop would have been nice.

As for future features, we would really like to see video and audio streaming from an iTunes account to the Remote app, kind of like the reserve of Apple's new AirPlay feature.