On September 9th, Apple is going to have a press event to show off the year's upcoming hardware. Reports are calling for the company to show off new iPhones, a new iPad Mini, the long-rumored iPad Pro, and a new Apple TV. The latter is getting an overhaul as Apple prepares to deliver a new experience for your big-screen television. This means a new look with an Apple A8 chip inside, a brand-new remote with touchpad, a new operating system with further Siri support and universal search, a new App Store, and a new SDK for developers.
The new remote is the noteworthy part of this equation: it's reported to have a touchpad, physical buttons, and be motion sensitive. Instead of trying to take mobile games and map them to a standard controller like many Android microconsoles do, Apple seems to be trying to replicate a smartphone experience in controller form. It's splitting the difference between touchscreen gaming and controller gaming.
The current rumor is that Apple is making larger push towards gaming with this new Apple TV. Lending credence to the idea that Apple's new set-top box will have a bigger gaming push, Apple launched a brand-new App Store Games Twitter account today. The account is curated by Apple's App Store editors, probably highlighting featured titles on the service. Even without the rumors, it shows that Apple is getting serious about gaming.
I've previously commented on Android microconsoles being a solution in search of a problem. Smartphone game players don't really need to play their games on a big screen with a traditional controller, and enthusiast players keep their mobile games mobile, preferring home consoles for TV gaming. Apple TV won't solve both issues, but the rumored direction of the controller at least acknowledges the needs of the former group. It creates a control experience those gamers are used to, on a set-top box that has Apple's considerable weight behind it.
I'm unsure if that will be enough, but Apple is doing it's best to bring iOS to TVs... again. The previous Apple TVs have been solid sellers, but the hardware didn't break through as anything more than a hobby for the company until 2013. That's the year that made Apple stand up and take notice of the market and that's what is potentially fueling this redesign. Even with this new round, the biggest feature - Apple's potential subscription TV service - is probably not going to launch alongside the rumored hardware.
I'm not even a huge Apple fan - I only have an iOS device, an iPad mini, for work review purposes - but I feel more confident about Apple TV in the microconsole sector. Apple has the clout to make developers take notice of this middle ground between mobile and home consoles. Let's see if they'll actually deliver.
The Apple TV is rumored to be priced in the $149 to $199 range. We'll see what the company shows off next week.