step1-appletv-heroWe've been saying for a long time that the Apple TV is just begging to invade the living room as a home gaming console, but Apple stubbornly shrugs off their set top box as just a "hobby" and has never appeared eager to let apps or games run on the device like they do with iPhones and iPads. With the revelation at WWDC this year that MFi Game Controller support would be part of iOS 7, we again got all excited thinking that this would easily lead into Apple opening up the Apple TV (and iOS devices of course) to apps and games with full-blown controller support, thus making it the affordable home gaming console that most of us already own anyway. It just makes too much damn sense, but again, not a word about Apple TV or controllers was uttered during the iPhone keynote earlier this week. Again, Apple left us feeling disappointed.

However, Apple did somewhat surprise everybody by announcing that iOS 7 and the new iPhone 5S would both support 64-bit, a first for a mobile device. Now, I'm no technical expert by any means, but from what I understand the biggest benefit of such a switch would be to handle devices with more than 4GBs of RAM. Sure, there are definitely speed improvements and other benefits to 64-bit, but mobile devices seem a long ways off from having 4GB+ of RAM and those other benefits seem minor in comparison to dealing with the transition to 64-bit. Eventually mobile devices will get to that point and all will transition to 64-bit, but to do so right now just seems premature.

A smart analysis of Apple's recent announcements by Sisir Koppaka (via Daring Fireball) has me thinking that our hopes and dreams for the Apple TV might come true after all. Koppaka's argument is that the switch to 64-bit isn't so much to benefit iPhones and iPads (not right now, anyway), but rather for laying the groundwork to usher in a new version of Apple TV, which already runs on a modified version of iOS. From Koppaka's blog post:

I don't believe Apple added 64-bit support to iOS 7 and all their apps just to prepare for an eventual transition to 4GB+ memory capacities in future iPhones. I think this was to do with something more impending. Do we know any product category that Apple would be interested in, that would require the use of both iOS and an A-series chip that is 64-bit capable in order to address 4GB+ memory?

Apple TV (the one that is yet to come, not the one that exists).

The more I think about this, the more sense it makes. As Koppaka goes on to point out, both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are getting ready to hit market, and both consoles have 8GB of RAM. A new version of the Apple TV with beefed up hardware, 8GB of RAM, controller support, and a vast selection of games that are already in the App Store could be a major player in the home console space.

This feels like the first step towards that. Once the kinks are worked out with developers adding controller support into iPhone and iPad games with the introduction of iOS 7 next week, it seems like Apple could then essentially "flip the switch" to allow all those games to be playable through Apple TV with controllers, or even with an iPhone or iPad as a controller. Why the hell wouldn't they want to do this?

controller1 drawing_3_2x

I really envision a future where Macs, iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV all work harmoniously with one another, maybe even to the point that you buy an app or game just once on a definitive App Store and it will work across all those devices, controlled whichever way you prefer with touchscreens or physical controls. Again, it just makes too much sense to me, and as much as Apple calls the Apple TV a hobby, they definitely have to want to be a major player in the living room after what they have accomplished in the mobile device space.

Will this happen? Obviously nobody knows yet, but I'll remain hopeful, because an Apple TV that could be a capable gaming console in addition to an excellent media device would be amazing. This switchover to 64-bit might just be the first stepping stone, not just for the future of the iPhone itself, but for Apple's entire hardware and software ecosystem.

[Canny Vision]

  • LOLCAT

    Sounds awesome.

  • handycapman

    The thing I have always wondered is this: if Apple makes the Apple TV a. "Games console" will big AAA titles come to it? If that answer is no than I would think the new vita tv would be much more appealing to the gaming market.

    • mutts

      Well if there is money to be made they will come.
      Apple TV certainly has a price advantage over the other consoles it is only €100 ( don't know the dollar price).
      So if the user installmentbase is there AAA titles will make the move.

  • shawnsavage

    I hope this does come to pass. It looks like apple is setting everything up so I guess we'll just have to wait and see! I would definitely buy it...

  • aconfusedkender

    Ok this sounds like the "evolution" of gaming that like you said has eluded is in the past for seemingly no reason. I'm sure that the Apple folks are more than capable of making this step in the new future. This could potentially blow the top off of the 3 main consoles that are vying for top spots in a gaming community that is ever increasing. I for one am looking forward to a change such as this. I currently own an iPad 2 and an iPhone 4S. If I could play some of my RPG's and other fun games through my TV from a controller instead I think my eyes would love me alot more (:

    Awesome news! Ill keep my eyes open for this one.
    Aconfusedkender

  • rewyan

    But it can't be called the Apple TV and be a console. It just can't. That doesn't sound appealing, and sounds rather confusing.

    Call it something creative and new, so that it isn't unclear like the Wii U was.

    • TERABITDEFIANCE

      but im sure nobody cares what anything is called, as long as we can play it

      • rewyan

        I agree, though the problem is getting average people to understand that the Apple TV can play games. The Wii U had the same problem, many people just though it was an accessory for the Wii. The advertising said "this is how U will play next" but never said that it was a whole new console.

        Apple would need to make everyone clear on what the Apple TV would do. If they can do that, it might be a contender, but if not, they've failed just like Nintendo.

      • Jef Crisis

        iBox . ? maybe not. It would be a good idea. With Gamestick and Ouya out there the market for home consoles is certainly wider than just Xbox and playstation. The Indy developers would be all over it like a rash, and that's where the interesting games are. AAA Cod Fifa and that can go take a running jump into the boring formulaic crap tank.

  • Gamer1st

    I just want to know where the controller news I was hoping to get at the event went. Did they just not mention any controllers or did I miss it?

  • rewyan

    I also agree with Jared, I hope one day everything is actually universal, between all apple products on one App Store. I also hope that one day, iPads and iPhones can be used together like a double-screen thing, the iPhone being a controller and iPad being the screen. That would be awesome and help sales for each.

    • mmmbop

      The "Snowboard" and FIFA 2012 games already permit such capability isn't?

  • PresidentZer0

    I really would love a controller that wraps around the iPad. Like an wii u controller....please make it happen...

  • Reydn

    Appleinsider: "Coming on the heels of news that Apple is possibly looking to release new Apple TV software on Sept. 18 alongside the iOS 7 launch, fresh rumors are pointing to a hardware upgrade that could come as soon as October."

  • lepke

    I would buy it in a heartbeat. The small step you just outlined would beat all other consoles on day 1 in features and functionality.

    More games, movies, music, tv, connectivity and internet than the competition and iOS is better. Also they would make profit day one on its hardware.

    Make it happen because I want to hear the tears from Steve Balmer before he leaves lol

  • JBRUU

    Why would I want to play mobile games that aren't mobile?

    • B3nlok

      Obviouslly if Apple unleash the gaming potential of ATV, whenever it happens, it wont be a mere Angry Birds machine.

      • Decoy_Octopus

        That's exactly what kind of games it will be. IOS gamers aren't willing to pay more than 99 cents for a game.

      • Artvarg

        Ever heard of XCOM?

      • lepke

        There are Tons of games sold for 29 and above. The guy you replied to must have us confused with android :D

        Xcom is awesome

      • JBRUU

        Sure. Runs and looks better on PC/ console, is cheaper, and has much, much more content.

      • http://vk.com/adiach3nko Alexandr Diachenko

        There is no actual proof of how well XCOM sells on iOS now and from what I heard there will be no quick Enemy Within expansion release there. So it seems to be just usual PR talking. There are already tons of games that are iOS ready but nobody releases them on the platform because nobody really cares. Even Enemy Unknown was released with very agressive price cut.

      • jibbyjackjoe

        This is exactly why big budget games won't work on a non-dedicated gaming system. Sure, indie games may do fantastic on this and others like ouya. But seriously don't expect GTA or the next madden on an apple game console. An average apple "gamer" will surely balk at a $59 price tag. Gamer is in quotes on purpose.

  • JJE McManus

    I really thought this was the year. I especially find it odd that with the holidays coming not one controller maker has announced anything. I can forgive Apple being its old crazy self but it seems nothing third party is going to get approved. Leading me to think something is immanent. Yet there is silence.

    • PresidentZer0

      That worries me too

    • iammane

      I don't think they can say anything until ios 7 release though... Since apple isn't making the controllers these companies like Logitech and Moga prolly have better secret keepers. Also, like someone else previously mentioned, breaking Apple NDA as a manufacturer might be a self death sentence.

      I kind of feel like we're gonna know more maybe on the 18th, and definitely in the weeks after that...

  • B3nlok

    I am with you. With so many mixed signs lately it has been really hard to speculate on what Apple is cooking. However with all the pressure on them to innovate on products its hard not think about Apple getting into the gaming business. Its a logical step.

  • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

    I can't believe I missed this. This does indeed make way too much sense. Building on what Jared said, not just one purchase for every device, but imagine one game taking advantage of every seperate device in it's own unique way. For example, on Apple TV you would have a full blown console like experience, than maybe you gotta leave the house but you still want to play, just break out your iPhone or iPod and instead of the same exact gameplay, maybe you could play different aspects of that same game such as farming for coins in a mini game specifically for touch input or building up your army through your barracks in another aspect. I know that Watch Dogs is doing something similar with tablets. The possibilities are quite large there and are only limited by imagination. The future could be glorious.

    • lepke

      Amen lol

    • webman2k

      You mean like dreamcast and the vmu? God I miss that system.

      • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

        The Dreamcast was way ahead of its time. It was a great system indeed.

      • Jef Crisis

        Metropolis Street Racer. still the best car game ever IMO. dreamcast is awesome.

    • jibbyjackjoe

      This would actually be cool. Imagine you want to play with your wife. You buy an RPG and bury your head into it, but what is she gonna do? Glad you asked! She's gonna download the crafting mini game from the same title and she's gonna "candy crush" some ore and lumber and craft some weapons to sell at her shop, which you'll buy, giving her more "lives" to play again.

      • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

        Win! The girlfriend/wife aspect! Great idea!

  • PresidentZer0

    I fear that apple will make controller only work on Apple TV...god I hope not

    • iammane

      I don't think so cause we all saw that image on the handheld one the phone fits inside of.. Different form factor, but we're all running ios something so I can't imagine they'd fragment this so badly...

  • iammane

    Apple is at a fork in the road- I really hope they do the right thing... It seems so obvious but I have to keep reminding myself we are not the core audience of these products.

    But hey, maybe it's taking a turn in the right direction. After all, we're getting controllers :)

    • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

      Yeah but the console market could boost the appeal of having an iOS product. If Apple does release a beefed up Apple TV for a console like experience along with general media entertainment including iTunes on Demand, it would instantly be ahead of Windows and Android and make a serious case for itself to consumers.

      • iammane

        I am crossing my fingers and toes :))

      • DBrown519

        Same here man, Apple please do it!

  • Bliquid

    Could be for Apple Tv playing games.
    Or it could be for iWatch.
    Who knows.
    Atm, it just seems an overkill, so i guess we'll see.

  • abdul.wahab

    They must do that

    Because android has the ouya and other android based console

    We will see

  • loudsound

    Nice insight on the future of Apple TV. I'll consider buying this if it happens!

  • hourglass

    They could totally destabilize Microsoft and Sony. It would be great and encourage more competition.

    • PresidentZer0

      People change(I hope)

  • TeddyNYC

    iPlay on the way?

    • Sebastian Gomez

      iXBoxStation U

      Hoping for the best...

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      How about iCouch, or iSitandDon'tPlay, or iTwiddlemyThumbs, or iVeg? :)

      (For kids, it's another nail in the coffin of actual physical play.)

  • Jean-Claude Cottier

    Yep, as soon as I learn that Apple was buildding a controller for iOS, I fought of a console too. My guess is that they will want a lot of iOS games supporting the controller first, so when they release their console, it will have already a good catalog. A lot of other micro-console are coming too (android based), so a lot of devs (including myself) will have interests about porting/developing new games with controllers for all these micro-console. I don't think that if Apple is releasing a console, it will chase microsoft/sony first. My guess is that they will keep going for cheap apps, might be more than $1 or $2, but definitely not $70, at least at the beginning.

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  • ikari_paul

    Lets not forget that Sony just announced a VITA TV... which is what the Apple tv should have been all along. Lets hope they release the apple tv we all hope

    • 21tigermike

      We'll see if the VitaTV actually sells. Videogames are still a very small market compared to Music/Movies, etc. That's why it's a lower priority. They'll get around to it eventually.

      • ikari_paul

        its more aimed at the ps4/ps vita owner... dont think its main target audience is you, the smartphone/device owner that is in search for a console, or the kid that wants to play games...

        i see it as a complimentary device (stream ps4 & vita to 2nd tv screen, access PSN account on other tv, ...)

        so i dont think it will be judged on how well it sells among non playstation owners

  • knownquantity

    The idea that ARM-based mobile devices require more than 4GB of RAM to actually make use of 64 bit capability "now" has already been debunked. For example, 64 bit in the iPhone would allow much more efficient encoding/decoding of video. There are many computational tasks that will be significantly faster due to 64 bit support, and the fact that Apple mentions "desktop class" capability is a fairly big hint of what they intend. They want iPhones and iPads to have a heavier productivity emphasis than before.

  • theorangeipod

    I dont think apple will ever convert Apple TV to a gaming console

    • lepke

      It is not about converting it to a console but to extend it to a media hub that can also play games.

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      Why don't they just make the MacMini do the same as the Apple TV hockey puck? Then you'd get games, net surfing, and all the cool Mac applications + IOS development.

  • Kaezul

    I honestly would be perfectly fine if they just made a bluetooth controller and allowed AppleTV to play IOS games. Playing something like dungeon hunters 4 with a controller on a big screen would be pretty sweet.

  • 28monkeys

    Please wash Wii U down the drain Apple

  • jibbyjackjoe

    It won't attract big publishers. If the publishers bitch and moan that the wii u isn't good enough, there is no way apples multi-functional tv box will get any love. If publishers can't easily copy and paste their game onto another console, they won't bother - meaning as long as Sony and Microsoft continue to make identical systems, the publishers will stick with them.

  • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

    Well, this is weird. I understand Apple has to grow it's revenue base, and I did read/hear (somewhere) that Apple makes more $$ from Appstore & iTunes sales now than from ... uh, I forget (hesitant to say from device sales! -- but maybe it's more percentage profits -- despite all those poor exploited FoxConn employees!).
    So maybe the Apple TV beef up is games, but maybe it'd be to get the SuperHD & 4k image quality out there before competitors?
    Quick question -- why doesn't Apple just purchase the big competitors (ie Netflix, Pandora, etc) instead of making inferior products which fail in comparison?
    I'd rather pay $10/mo for unlimited Netflix streaming than pay iTunes $1-$4 to purchase a download video. It would seem EVERYONE would prefer that model, except movie industry. Why don't people push for this more?

    • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

      I'd guess because it wasn't made by Apple. But I agree with you. That's why I'd like to see an iTunes on demand similar to Netflix.