The report that we commented on yesterday, about Apple’s vision for a set-top box that took the place of your cable box, has been expanded on with a new article today in the Wall Street Journal. Additional details include that Apple wants it to include cloud-based DVR functionality and that its interface will resemble the iPad’s.
The features that are said to be included are summed up in four basic new details:
Apple wants users of the box to be able to watch any show at any time via the Internet. This would allow them to begin watching shows even after they had begun airing. This would require some significant tweaks to existing digital rights.
In conjunction, Apple wants viewers to have access to all television episodes of a current season, instead of just the last few. This would allow people to slip between live content and content from the cloud with ease.
The interface is said to, currently, resemble the icons of the iPad. One could also reference the slightly elongated icons on the current Apple TV as being ‘like the iPad’, so this isn’t too surprising. It’s not mentioned whether the device would be used via a remote that also featured the icons, or whether it would be on the screen alone.
Social features like sharing shows via Twitter and others may be supported on the device.
The interface going to an iPad-like view doesn’t sound too far off the mark to us. We’ve previously talked about why the Apple TV UI is about touch and familiarity, and it sounds like this is the direction Apple is currently heading.
I’d love to hear some details about the remote that they’re looking to use with this thing. My bet is on a touchscreen device, even though there is a significant cost barrier to making something like that happen. Mirroring an icon-like display on a remote just makes sense to me.
As far as a ‘cloud DVR’, that sounds a lot like what Apple does now with iTunes in the Cloud, just on a much larger scale. Offering back episodes of the current season would be as simple as caching those in the same way that it does seasons of shows for sale in iTunes now.
Including social features? Sure, why not. Apple will have Twitter and Facebook massaged deeply into the cracks of iOS and OS X later this year. Why not include that in a set top box for easy media sharing?
Apple still has an uphill battle if it wants to sell this thing to the gatekeepers of TV, for sure. It’s stuck between the cable providers and the content distributors and it’s got to find a way to get leverage one way or another if it hopes to make this product happen.