Engadget reports that the Apple TV, which currently runs a modified version of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, will now run a new version of iOS when the device is refreshed next month. The name of the home entertainment device would also change from "Apple TV" to 'iTV" to bring it in line with their other i-prefixed products. Similar to existing iOS-based devices, the new iTV would be capable of running apps, and is rumored to start at a $99 price point.
While previous rumblings indicated the refreshed Apple TV would sport 1080p output, the newest reports suggest it will max out at 720p. My initial reaction is that this is a bit of a letdown from a resolution standpoint. Ideally they'd release an iTV at a $99 price point, and then an iTV Pro at $199/$299 with additional storage & 1080p output. However, this likely doesn't fit with their "local storage is irrelevant" paradigm once iTunes moves to the cloud and all media is streamed.
I'm skeptical the A4 chip (currently used in the iPhone 4 & rumored to be in the new iTV) itself is completely incapable of driving 1080p video, since the 3GS could do so with the previous generation's hardware. More likely, it didn't deliver consistently reliable 1080p playback. Apple has a history of limiting its devices in such a manner, such as when they prevented the iPhone 3G from shooting video natively.
Perhaps the folks in the jailbreak community or at aTV Flash will be able enable 1080p playback unofficially, though. (As an aside, anyone with a current generation Apple TV shouldn't think twice about purchasing aTV Flash to enhance their device. It changed my usage of the Apple TV from an iTunes music extender, to a full-fledged media center solution.)
With the addition of the new iTV to Apple's lineup, it would bring the number of products running iOS to four:
- iPod Touch
The unveiling of this new device is expected to be on Tuesday, September 14. A new version of iOS, likely 4.1, is also anticipated to be announced at the event.