Sources say new Apple TV box likely coming soon, App/Game Store possible

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 12.59.44 PM

We’ve learned that Apple is making progress on its development of a successor to the current Apple TV and that the device is well into testing. We are led to believe that the new device, which is said to be a set-top box rather than a full-fledged TV set, will likely be introduced in the first half of 2014. We understand that the product will include a revamped operating system that will be based on iOS. Of course, release timeframes with these type of products can quickly change due to the content partners that are involved in such products…

Our sources previously indicated that Apple is experimenting with new input methods for TV-related products such as motion controls, but it is unclear if that Kinect-like interface is in the cards for this year’s Apple TV product. iLounge reported earlier today that Apple is preparing an update to the Apple TV that will add gaming content. We understand that the new Apple TV will include new types of content, leading us to believe that an App Store or a “Game Store” for the device is under consideration. Apple will likely promote this new store with the new hardware, but the company has definitely considered allowing users of the current-generation Apple TV to update to the new software redesign.

We’ve previously profiled Apple’s work on allowing content makers to make channels/apps for the current Apple TV. Apple has been streamlining the development process of Apple TV apps in recent months and making it easier for its partners to build apps for the platform, but its current SDK still only consists of XML templates and guidelines for mostly video streaming apps. Apple senior executives are said to have been against adding a full-fledged App Store experience to the Apple TV, but perhaps those feelings have changed.

While Apple has been developing a new Apple TV strategy for the past few years, issues and legalities connected to establishing partnerships with the television and movie distribution companies may make the Apple TV media content experience not too different from what current and past Apple TV models offer. Speaking to Walter Isaacson, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs appeared to have large ambitions for the television space. But will this next-generation Apple TV be what Jobs dreamed up? Only time will tell. 

We’re still digging for more details on this future Apple product, so stay tuned for more information in the coming days and weeks.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. Flo (@verpeiler) - 9 years ago

    Blah blah blah, how often did we hear this rumor?

  2. Mr. Grey (@mister_grey) - 9 years ago

    It bears mentioning that since most people don’t play computer games, merely adding gaming capability to the AppleTV is not a “win” nor is is a product that will change their fortunes very much. If this is all Apple has planned for AppleTV, it’s a giant FAIL for most users.

    • PMZanetti - 9 years ago

      It’s not giant fail in concept at all. In concept, Apple could a sell more AppleTVs to iOS device users because of enhanced gaming abilities.

      The actual implementation will be very interesting, as I’m having a hard time seeing it.

    • rahhbriley - 9 years ago

      I disagree, I think it’s a big component of what people want to use it for. Video games on iOS are huge, and I think it will translate well on to aTV.

      I’m interested in the implementation too. Will the games be stored in iCloud? Or maybe the “GameStore” will be “just” a listing of dual screen/airplay style games that you can initiate purchase of on the aTV, then needing to run the game from an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad, with airplay running like some of the current games do?

      I could see how they may not want to launch an AppStore yet, and just do the GameStore. It would keep apps like TBS, Discovery, Amazon Prime, etc away for awhile longer as they apparently still try to figure out content deals, etc.

    • 4nntt - 9 years ago

      More channels will make it a game changer with so many people dropping cable or at least dropping the cable box for secondary TVs (particularly Time Warner). That will make it competitive with Roku. The Apple TV already has superior streaming to Roku which is obvious to anyone who has tried to fast forward or rewind on Roku. Games are a good plus. With independent and platform games making a strong comeback, the Apple TV may see a lot of success. Certainly it will not compete with next gen consoles, but if it keeps a similar price point it may also pull significant market share from Nintendo.

      • 4nntt - 9 years ago

        Although I doubt it would happen, it would be nice if apps could be optionally universal across iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV.

      • rahhbriley - 9 years ago

        Check out Ben Lovejoy’s recent spec piece about iPhone screen sizes. Between his article, and contributions from commenters, they explain in pretty decent context Apple’s efforts to get developers building scalable apps. Additional screen sizes, and even the opening up of the aTV, is probably why they’ve slowly implemented it and started encouraging it even more.

    • Robert Nixon - 9 years ago

      Completely disagree. iOS is definitive proof that there is an absolutely massive audience for “uber-casual” games at a low cost. Even if you don’t play games, it’s hardly a “FAIL”(and seriously, what is this, 2008? No one says that anymore) for the people that would like to the option of playing fun casual games with friends and family on their Apple TV.

  3. It’s ALREADY based on iOS.

    • Yes, but perhaps they mean it will be based on iOS 7? The fist apple tv was based on a port of Tiger I believe.

      • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

        And are we still on the first Apple TV? Are we even on the second Apple TV? No.

        Are we still on the first Apple TV’s software? Are we even on the third iteration of Apple TV software?


  4. PMZanetti - 9 years ago

    Ok… So if this is really coming, it opens the door to tons of questions about how they could possibly do this.

    You often hear the average blogger say “Apple needs to add an App Store to AppleTV”

    But what does this actually mean? The App Store as it exists today is for adding functionality to the device via downloadable native apps. This makes sense for computers. And by computers, I mean Macs, & iOS devices. But what can you add to a TV? And how?
    The AppleTV stores very little content. It’s all about streaming, and Apple manages what little OS/App content exists on the meager 8 GB of flash storage.
    Apple is not going to want users worried about managing storage, nor are they going to want to raise the price of the AppleTV by making it standard with 16 or 32 GB.
    This becomes an issue for any kind of Apps, but ESPECIALLY games. They can be a few MB or a few GB, depending on the quality.

    But assuming that gets figured out…how do you play games on AppleTV? Apple gaming is very popular…very popular on iOS devices with Touch-driven gaming.
    But all of that falls apart when you shift the main display for the game up onto the TV. Even if AirPlay were perfect, which it’s not, your eyes are on the big screen…making touch interaction on the device impossible outside of rudimentary ‘tap anywhere’…or accelerometer driven interaction…which is not gonna fly.

    It is fair and safe to say that there is no better way of interacting with a game on a TV display than with a dedicated hardware controller with tactile buttons, joysticks, and triggers, ACCENTED BY a touchscreen and accelerometer/gyroscope abilities.

    Unless Apple has something that no one has thought of yet…I don’t see how they have many options.

    The only thought that I’ve had lately that could work for Apple is the following:

    With the flood of MFI controllers that are hitting the market, even though they all suck, there is the potential for A dual experience: your iPhone docks with the MFI controller for the Game Boy type experience. When you sit down on the couch you hit the airplay button and now your visuals are on the big screen, and you’re still controlling it with the device in your hand. Something akin to this seems to be the kind of experience that Apple would want, and also lends some practicality to the idea of games on Apple TV.

    • Leon Kernan - 9 years ago

      “But what can you add to a TV? And how?”
      People used to say that about phones as well.

    • Matt Shepherd - 9 years ago

      Individual television networks could package themselves as apps that you could download and subscribe to on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis thereby killing cable companies.

      Or, Angry Birds.

  5. driverbenji - 9 years ago

    blah blah. …not happening, wishful thinking for those into gaming and wanting app/game store. And DEFINITELY not happening with the current single-core A5 chip Apple TV, it can barely stream 1080p, it is not capable of gaming. (even the 3-generations old iPhone 4S has a DUAL-core A5.). This rumor started by dreamers.

    Apple may (MAY) release a whole new TV product Q4 of this year, or sometime in 2015, but nothing any sooner. It will innovate the entire TV experience, similarly to how iPod/iTunes innovated (and took over) mp3 player/CD music market. It will offer (at some point) 3D without glasses, and iOS device connectivity for interactivity, including social and multi-device multi-player gaming….and yeah, sure there will be bluetooth gaming controllers.

    There will NOT be an “update” to the current Apple TV with an app store or gaming abilities. Apple TV is more of a hobby product for apple, a way to begin working with content providers and explore what is available now to help with ideas on how to innovate the entire TV experience, while competing with Roku and such.

    this is just a rumor, with no confirmed sources of actual product, not even a “short supply” hint. take it as such.

    • David Williams - 9 years ago

      Umm, Apple has the A7 64bit chip in volume production. They could very well put that into their Apple TV along with the next or current generation graphics that includes. AppleTV’s current home screen already let’s you buy/rent media, it is not a big deal to enhance that to support games. The payment process via the store is already in place. Bluetooth LE gaming controllers by third parties and support for iPod touch, iPhones and iPads as control devices are easy as well.

  6. Peter Pinto - 9 years ago

    What if Apple develops something like Sony’s Playstation Now? Streamed games, directly on the Apple TV.

    Apple could then use already produced Apple TVs as “consoles” for these games. iDevices with Bluetooth could be used as controllers. This would lift Apple directly into the console gaming industry, competing with all the major players, both present (Sony, Microsoft) and upcoming (Valve).

    Not possible, you say? Well, this article from Gamespot suggests that Sony is close to doing it in 720p, on a TV! The requirement is a 5Mbps connection.

    As I see it, it will add tons of value to consumers, who already have an Apple TV and different iDevices. It would lift the software/hardware ecosystem to a whole new level.

  7. Paul Kerr - 9 years ago

    The current Apple TV could handle many casual games, and Apple could enable customers to add local storage via USB to improve the experience if needed. A new version of the device will certainly have an A7-class chip, and must have a way to run games locally in the Apple TV to support games that can’t have latency issues. Maybe that’s not through an App Store per se, maybe it’s iTunes.

    But the reason it has to support games is because of the convergence of games and TV. To have a complete experience of a sci-fi or action or reality show in the future, you will play it as well as watch it. It’s all about monetization, or Pixar-ification of characters and places across media. The most successful TV shows have the most broadly engaged fans, and as production companies find ways to make money by providing more ways to engage they’ll exploit this. Gamification within the TV will be the next big thing, and Apple TV as well as PS4 and XB1 will be the center of it.

  8. Craig Wright - 9 years ago

    Assuming this is coming (and I don’t see why it shouldn’t) the next step would be to price it right.

    Apple charge $99 for the current generation of Apple TV. If they double that total, we’re getting to the precariously uncomfortable halfway point between full blown console gaming and casual gaming. But if they hit the sweet spot at $149… that would definitely be a game changer.

    There’s no expensive display to manufacture, just flash storage and a CPU/GPU/MB combo.

    And if you go with the assumption of the traditional console razors-and-razor-blades analogy, it would be worth taking a slight loss on the hardware knowing full well that you’ll be reaping back all of that expense over the course of the coming months with guaranteed game app purchases.

    I say A7X (x2), a half decent GPU and at least 32GB of flash storage and they’ll have an insta-win. Especially so if they allow generic Bluetooth support, a decent optional first-party joystick as a separate buy, and storage expansion options via cloud and later virtualized game media support from the Apple data centre a la PlayStation Now.

    Interesting times indeed…

  9. Craig Wright - 9 years ago

    One other thing: Apple have had ties to Nintendo in the past. Nintendo’s marketshare is rapidly shrinking with no end in sight, but their IPs are coveted. I say forge a licensing deal with Nintendo for exclusive iOS support and development for the next few years and you’ll have a solid entertainment software partnership from the get-go. Nintendo then have income generated from the partnership and a half-step towards the software-only model that they will likely be forced to take at some point.

  10. If an Apple Mac mini costs £499 and a Google Chromebox costs less than £279, then surely there’s a (non tablet) gap there for an Apple “MacBox” that sits above the £99 Apple TV?

    Microsoft is urging consumers to get rid of their Windows XP PCs (before April 8th), so if an Apple “MacBox” appeared on the market, one that let you plug in your old PC monitor, mouse, and printer, then maybe that would appeal? It would come loaded with iWorks and of course be connect to iCloud.

    The MacBox would also connect to those other peripherals you might have, such as USB and Bluetooth devices (storage, cameras, DVD drives, etc.)

    Just musing…

  11. Paul DiCarlo - 9 years ago

    Please add Safari to the new Apple TV.

  12. If they strike a deal with Comcast for this new Set-Top Box that will give me a nice UI then i will upgrade from my 3rd generation box (give it to my brother or something) and get rid of my Set-Top Box from Comcast. The UI is garbage, it always freezes and it is very very slow. The X1 entertainment system blows. I can’t believe that Comcast and Verizon Fios (who i used to have until the new year) did not buy the division that made their cable boxes from Motorola. Those weren’t the best but they were a whole lot better than the crap the are attempting to make now that sucks. When i originally has Comcast up until 5 years ago before switching back this year the experience was pretty good but the internet always dropped and then Fios was great just a lot of money and now im back to Comcast that’s bad TV and internet that randomly drops. Comcast Customer Service told me that it was my Apple 802.11 AC routers interfering so they tried to tell me how to set them up correctly when i had them set up the way they told me to when i told them what was happening, and then they told me they weren’t sure what was wrong if it was set up right. Idiots. God i hope Apple strikes a deal with a new Apple TV so i can have something that works decent for this service for the time being, that is until Fios gives my family a good deal to come back.