Entries in Lounge Apps (1)

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.