Apple had Apple TV news at its most recent special event, but it wasn’t the new Apple TV hardware some expected. That refresh is coming in June at WWDC, however, according to Buzzfeed’s John Paczkowski, and alongside it we’ll finally see an App Store for the set-top box, as well as an official SDK, Siri support, increased onboard storage and HomeKit support for passing on Siri instructions to connected home devices.
The new hardware from Apple makes a lot of sense in terms of timing: A price drop of the existing Apple TV was announced at the most recent event, providing the basis for clearance of existing inventory in preparation for a new model. Apple also announced a key step in a move towards Apple TV acting as a true replacement for, rather than just a complement to, existing satellite and cable TV services, thanks to the launch of HBO Now, a $15/month HBO streaming service available independent of any existing subscriptions.
Apple is already planning to launch a new streaming video service complete with access to live broadcast channels and with pricing undercutting many cable packages in the fall with a summer unveil, according to recent reports. And we’ve heard that a new streaming music service, built on Beats Music but sporting iTunes branding, will launch in June as well. In other words, all the ingredients are coming together for WWDC to act as a media-focused special event, in addition to its role as a developer conference.
An Apple TV SDK, which would debut as part of this new hardware refresh, and help populate a new App Store, is another good reason for it to break cover at WWDC, as is the support for HomeKit-enabled devices. Using this new Apple TV, owners would be able to issue voice commands via Siri to accessories participating in Apple’s HomeKit program, which has been announced but not yet properly launched in terms of consumer availability just yet. It’s another big development platform that Apple could highlight at WWDC.
I wouldn’t be surprised if new Apple TV hardware also incorporated some kind of Apple Watch hook, in the form of a remote app for additional voice/gesture control options, so keep an eye out for that as well. It’s beginning to sound like the Apple TV could be poised to make an even bigger splash than the wearable, however, given how potentially disruptive of existing media markets it could be with this slate of new features, streaming services and third-party app support.
Apple declined to comment on this report.