Apple iTV: Review of rumours, features, pictures and specs

Apple is the king of rumour mongering and the Apple iTV currently carries the rumour crown. Schtum until the last minute, as Forest Gump would suggest, Apple is like a box of chocolates: you never know what your gonna get.

So with Apple television set rumours, things remain very much the same. Who knows what sort of treats Cupertino’s labs are currently cooking up? We can’t wait to find out, that’s for sure. In the meantime why not speculate like mad, heck it helps relieve some of the stress of waiting at least. This is by no means what the finished iTV might end up looking like, more just everything the internet currently predicts it to be. What follows is an amalgamation of absolutely everything currently circulating the web on Apple's supposed iTV product. 

Apple iTV release date

There have been very few murmurs whatsoever of the hardware’s definite arrival time. Virtually nothing has been mentioned and no one really knows when it is going to turn up. The best way to approach this question then is to look at the way Apple traditionally unveils hardware.

Any iPhone or iPad launch is scheduled with a big enough distance between that they don’t clash and detract from each other's hype. The iPhone 4S arrived in mid October, the iPad 2 at the end of March. That leaves quite a tasty gap in between during the summer months. If Apple were to follow the same release schedule as last year, the iTV might well arrive in summer.

Walther Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, released in October, explained that Jobs had made the iTV his last big project and that as he put it, had “cracked” connected television. This, at least, means it exists and had been worked on by Jobs just before he died. This would put it towards the end of its R&D cycle and make a summer launch even more likely. 

A supply chain leak reported by Digitimes in December 2011 did reveal something of a possible release time and appears to agree with Isaacson's biography of Jobs. Materials for the sets are supposedly being prepared in Q1 this year with aims to release the hardware to market in Q3. Do take this with a slight pinch of salt though, as Digitimes doesn't have a spotless record for accurate rumour reporting. 

Apple iTV display

This is where rumours surrounding the iTV get a bit more exciting. First up is that the iTV is going to appear in multiple sizes, according to a story on smarthouse.com.au published in December 2011; logical when you think about how people approach a television purchase.

We are expecting the standard 32-inch model going all the way up to 55-inch. How do we know this? Well rumours coming in from Japan point to Sharp as the panel manufacturer for the brand new Apple sets. The same report in allthingsd.com also suggests that the panels are going to be LCD, not OLED which may be reserved for future variants of the television. Doubtless the public will be extremely happy if they see a 32-inch version of the screen used on the iMac. Apple has always done a good job with its panels and so expect whatever turns up in the iTV to be of decent quality.

Further rumours surrounding Sharp’s work on the iTV also say the company has completely retooled its Sakai production plant just for putting together the displays. We already know that the company will likely be working on OLED screens for future iPhone and iPads, but whether they release an iTV with similar display tech remains to be seen. The Digitimes supply leak in December doesn't mention anything of the sort, it does however suggest just a 32 and 37-inch panel available at the television's launch.

In all likelihood the cost will keep things LCD focused for the first generation at least. What no Apple iTV rumour reports have pointed to, as yet, are whether or not the displays will use IPS, be LED-backlit or of Retina Display pixel density.

Apple iTV remote control

A quote from Jobs in Isaacson’s book suggests we might see Siri make an appearance in the new iTV set as opposed to conventional controls. 

"I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine."

It would make sense, given the success of systems like Kinect and its Xbox voice control, and would certainly tie in with the idea of cutting down on remote controls but it's equally possible that the quote refers to using another iDevice as a remote or indeed Apple iTV coming with something universal of its own.

There is also - as reported in December of 2011 by the Wall Street Journal - the possibility of gesture controls. Apple has been gesture obsessed since it launched the trackpad for Mac, so it would certainly make sense.

Apple iTV operating system

Apple already has a highly formidable operating system in iOS. The failings of the current Apple TV and its alternative software approach make it even more likely that it's the iPhone and iPad interface that will appear on the new iTV. It's hard to see Apple going any other way than with its hugely popular and well-established iOS with its vast app infrastructure but, until we receive reports on the matter either way, it's not possible to say for sure.

Apple iTV hardware

On top of the display rumours in the allthingsd.com report, there have been more details on the innards and outtards of the iTV coming as dropped in a survey conducted by Best Buy in February 2012. These specifications have been debunked by the store itself, but its still worth taking a look at what the consumer electronics megastore had in mind.

The survey talks about a 42-inch 1080p television that runs iOS and can access the app store - two things that ring true with other reports of the Apple iTV system.

What is slightly puzzling about the whole Best Buy survey is the use of an iSight camera for Skype. iSight is no longer how Apple refers to its built-in cameras and FaceTime would be far more likely to come as standard than Skype.

Apple iTV iCloud integration

Steve Jobs himself gives mention to the uses of iCloud in the Apple iTV set.

"I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud." Jobs told Isaacson in his biography.

There is no reason why Apple wouldn't be taking advantage of the vastly expensive infrastructure they have created with iCloud. Wireless content syncing across devices? iTunes Match on your telly? Yes please. 

Apple iTV channels

Analysts say Apple is working on custom channels for its new iTV. Shaw Wu and Sterne Agee told AppleInsider in December 2011 that, if Apple's service were to take on the likes of Sky and Virgin Media, it would offer paid-for internet TV subscription packages.

All TV programming would be streamed over the internet which would mean, theoretically, that viewers could create their own custom channels. We already know from the December rumour story that Apple approached CBS in the US for TV licensing deals. Sure, they were turned away but it means that the big A is at least planning something. 

There are also murmurs that Apple iTV could kick off Premier League coverage, or at least gain access to it following the normal Apple TV set top box. The Daily Mail explained that the Cupertino giant was looking into the Premiership to bolster its selection of programming, something that could appear on the iTV, should they gain access to the rights. 

Bloomberg also reported in July 2011 that Apple was considering purchasing Hulu which would mean access to even more programming for the iTV. 

Apple iTV price

Again, there is very little to go on here. Best Buy suggested a hefty $1499 cost for the set. This is entirely possible given the current price premium placed on Apple's products.

To put it in perspective, a 27-inch Thunderbolt display is £899. Add in all the complex internals needed for television programming and the extra screen size to hit 32-inches and you have lots of cost on top. It seems unlikely, given the price of Thunderbolt displays, that the smallest iTV will cost less than £1000. 

Apple iTV review

Expect plenty more coverage as we get closer to the release date and full and thorough Apple iTV review once we've had a chance to get Apple's television into the Pocket-lint labs.

If you want to know more, check out our Apple iTV story hub here