Apple TV console

This is a smart article from Austin Sweeney. Where this whole thing is going, and when, is up in the air, but there is no doubt that Apple stumbled into a great gaming device with the iPod touch. The big question for me is will it be easier for the console makers to convince the public they have an entertainment device or for Apple to convince the gamers they have a gaming device? The next couple of years are going to be very interesting.

  • Marcus

    The one thing people always forget in these conversations about apps on the aTV is how little internal storage it has. 8GB if I’m not mistaken. A HD movie takes up about 3-5GB of space. So that optimistically leaves about 4GB of space for games, which isn’t much if they’re 1080. That’s higher resolution than iPhone games, but less than Retina iPad games.

    Either Apple is going to need to release a new box with increased internal storage, OR they’re going to leave gameplay to AirPlaying from an iPhone or iPad.

    • Sebastian Paul

      The aTV doesn’t store HD movies on its integrated storage, it is using that storage as a cache during streaming.

      I expect a new model of the aTV when they release the SDK or final product and they will have two different types of aTV support in the beginning: Old aTVs and the new aTV.

      Old models have only a singlecore A5 SoC (or even an A4, if the AppleTV 2 is also considered for an update to games), so while the SoC will be powerful enough to run simpler games at FullHD resolutions, it won’t be powerful enough to run the newest 3D games which need a dualcore CPU for calculations.

      Old models will be used for 2D games, perhaps SpriteKit games (the 2d-“engine” Apple just added to the iOS SDK), those will run great even at high resolutions and they will also need only a small amount of storage.

      The new model will have a Apple A6 or even A6X/A7 SoC and will be powerful enough to run new 3D Games like Modern Combat or XCOM at FullHD, that model will also come with more integrated storage. Storage will probably be cheaper for Apple, because they don’t need fast or power-efficient storage, in theory they could even use hard disk drives. If they were using A7 SoCs, they could also use all the chips they can get manufactured and use those which have imperfections and draw too much power in the aTV and the perfect SoCs can be used in the iPhone/iPad. Increases the effective yield rate.

      But I expect an increase in price, not only due to the more advanced SoC and higher storage, but also because of the new “remote” they will need.

      When the aTV gains games, we can also expect some kind of general app support – and an AppleTV that supports regular apps needs a better input device than an infrared remote with a few buttons. Sure, you could use an iPhone to control the aTV, but the moment you use an iPhone to control Safari running on an aTV, you could also just ignore the aTV and use safari directly on the iPhone. Maybe a specialized version of the Magic Trackpad? Use it to control a cursor on the screen and maybe have a keyboard printed onto the surface of the trackpad (including numbers), with an option to use he full surface of the trackpad to control the cursor or to use it as a touch-keyboard.

      But that solution would feel so…unimaginative, just too normal to be something from Apple?!

      Siri Voice Control instead, with the ability to use Siri to activate buttons, enter text etc? The accessibility features of iOS could help here, with every button having a label.

      • Marcus

        While the aTV doesn’t strictly speaking store movies on it’s internal storage, it’s my understanding that it does “cache” the entire HD file on the drive during that viewing. The progress bar indicator shows how much of the movie has been downloaded/cached to local storage when you start watching it. This is to prevent against slowdowns or interruptions in playback. So DURING a rental, the movie might be taking up 5GB of space, depending on the length of the movie. You can jump chapters, RW and FF thru a movie that has been cached without it having to rebuffer.

        The aTV isn’t simply a streaming box- if it was, there would be no need to have even 8GB of storage available.

    • gjgustav

      “The one thing people forget…”; why do you think people forgot anything? Who says the games have to be stored on the AppleTV? Why can’t they be stored on the iPod, iPhone, or iPad, and then cached on the AppleTV when they’re played? They could also be stored on a Mac or PC in the iTunes library.

      • Marcus

        Most of the people who write these articles seem to assume that the aTV will work exactly like an iPhone or an iPad- downloading games and other apps to local storage. Or at least they’re not explicitly stating another option.

        Otherwise, Apple already has an aTV gaming market in place with iPhones/iPads and AirPlay. And perhaps that’s how Apple would prefer it be done, to keep the storage requirements of the aTV small and the device affordable. But perhaps latency is to high for good gameplay. I don’t know-

        But if Apple does plan for game downloads, they’ll have to bump the storage on the device or people are going to be hitting a storage ceiling very quickly depending on what games they’re downloading.

        • gjgustav

          I’m not taking about Airplay, I’m talking about loading from another device on the network. There’s nothing to say a current AppleTV could not load game code from a Mac/PC on the same network running iTunes, when you start playing, like it does a movie. Or from an iOS device.

          • Marcus

            The questions is what’s faster and easier. Airplay or uploading the code.

          • gjgustav

            The Apple TV could display games stored on any Mac/PC/iOS device in your house that is signed in with iTunes Home Sharing. When you access them, they automatically load from wherever they are stored.

  • Alexei Baboulevitch

    I’ve been hoping that something like this would happen for a few years now. Very, very excited for the fall.

  • mdelvecchio

    “Yes, even Amazon Instant Video.”

    …im not expecting apple to put an Amazon channel on the ATV. primarily because amazon’s media store is a direct competitor to the iTunes store, which both have about the same content. there is some free content available on Amazon Prime, but i find it isnt particularly thrilling, so not a major loss to go without it. so im not seeing apple’s angle in supporting it.

    (also — why doesnt Amazon support AirPlay on their Instant Video app?)

    • Marcus

      I’m not so sure. The iPad allows the Kindle app. And Netflix has been on the aTV for years- which although it has a different payment model does compete for the same customers.

      Apple is probably happy to have the choice of any extra content that Amazon provides- since it ultimately means that people are still buying Apple’s hardware.