The diminutive and sometimes under appreciated Apple TV may be on the verge of becoming a great deal more interesting. MacRumors reported recently that Apple will be releasing a software development kit (SDK) for third parties to create apps for the TV accessory.
The second and third generation Apple TV run a version of Apple’s mobile operating system iOS; the same that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (the first generation ran a pared-down version of OSX, Apple’s desktop and laptop operating system). Both run on processors shared with other Apple devices; the second gen sporting the A4 chip shared by the iPhone 4 and the third gen the A5 shared by the iPhone 4s and iPad 2. The similarities in operating systems and components would make porting apps over to the Apple TV fairly straightforward; the only question unanswered is what would be used for interaction. The iOS-using Apple TVs only have infrared input, currently only used by Apple’s diminutive remote. While fine for control of the Apple TV’s multimedia playback, the Apple Remote wouldn’t suffice as an input for controlling many apps. One possible solution would be to rely on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch via a wifi connection- both devices can be used as remote controls for the Apple TV via a free app.
The addition of even a portion of the iTunes iOS App Store would make the Apple TV an interesting addition to anyone’s entertainment center. If done well I would strongly consider switching to one when my current Mac Mini media center needs replacing.