Rumors have been pointing to the launch of a major update to Apple TV software and possibly also a new version of the device itself. Apple has virtually confirmed that something is coming, as can be seen by changes they've made in the Apple Store this week.
If you go to the Apple Store, you'll now see a new guy in the lineup: Shop Apple TV. Right there alongside Shop Mac, Shop iPhone, Shop iPad, and Shop iPod. This elevation of Apple TV from being hidden among accessories to equal footing with Apple's other products strongly suggests that Apple no longer views the device as a "hobby" and is gearing up to give us something new. I'm excited.
9To5Mac gave a boost to the rumors yesterday by passing along information gleaned from their "solid sources." They report that Apple has been working on an Apple TV that integrates Apple's Airport Express wireless router. They also report again that the new Apple TV will have a focus on gaming, and they say users will likely use iOS devices as controllers. In addition, they say that dedicated controllers that are being developed for iOS devices will likely also work with the new Apple TV. Also, 9To5Mac repeats something we kept hearing last year: that Apple has also been working on a version of Apple TV that would function as an interface for your cable TV service, essentially replacing the box from your cable TV provider.
It's hard to know what we'll see. Apple is always working on a variety of initiatives, but only a small number eventually make it to market. I think the most likely scenario is that Apple will announce a major update to the software that will include a new interface, gaming, and an Apple Store. I'm guessing it will be in the coming weeks, given their changes to the Apple Store And I think it's likely they'll come out with a new Apple TV device within the next six months.
The new Shop Apple TV section of the Apple Store has all the features associated with the sections of their other full-fledged products: the device itself, Apple TV accessories, Apple Care protection, refurbished Apple TV devices, and a question-and-answer section. They're definitely serious about this product.
Apparently the device has been selling fairly well, even though Apple doesn't do much marketing. I've read that Apple TV and Roku are far ahead of the competition in terms of sales. Google's Chromecast is a dark horse contender, with a low price of $35 and a promise from Google that more channels are coming soon. (The content is currently fairly limited, mainly YouTube, Netflix, and the Google Play Store.)
I hope Apple launches the new Apple TV soon. I can't wait to see what they've been working on.