Will Apple TV Become iTV?

More speculation has surfaced about Apple TV, suggesting the next version of the set-top box will run iOS applications, have 720p HD video output, and be renamed iTV.

The newest rumors build on earlier reports that the next version of Apple TV would be similar in look and feel to the iPhone 4 and feature an A4 processor, 16GB of internal storage, access to online storage, and streaming video, and be priced at $99. The latest commentary is courtesy of gadget blog Engadget citing "trusted" anonymous sources.

Apple TV in HD?

Earlier rumors suggested the next iteration of Apple TV would feature HD video resolution as high as 1080i or 1080p, but now Engadget says the set-top box HD capability will max out at 720p. The weaker HD video capability is reportedly due to the A4 processor's inability to handle 1080 resolution output.

TV Apps

Riding off earlier reports the new Apple TV would run a version of iOS (the same operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad), Engadget claims the next-generation set-top box "will be getting apps." But it's unclear whether an iOS-based Apple TV could use iPhone and iPad apps currently available on iTunes or if third-party programs would have to be written specifically for Apple TV.

If these sources are correct, this would be a smart move on Apple's part since Google will launch an Apple TV competitor, Google TV, later this year. Google TV will be an Android-based software platform that attempts to merge the Web with your living room television. Google TV will also be capable of running third-party applications.

More FaceTime

If a revamped Apple TV does run applications, I have to wonder if Apple would preload the device with the company's new video chat program, FaceTime. Currently, FaceTime only runs on the iPhone 4, but when Apple introduced the new video calling standard CEO Steve Jobs said the company would ship "tens of millions" of FaceTime devices by the end of 2010. It's unlikely Apple would get to that number selling just iPhone 4 devices, so FaceTime capability on other Apple products such as Apple TV and the rumored new iPod Touch would make a lot of sense.

Using your TV for video chat may be uncommon right now, but that may be about to change. Earlier this year, for example, Panasonic and LG Electronics announced plans to include Skype software on its Internet-capable HDTVs.

Rumblings surrounding the future of Apple's self-professed "hobby" have been building up in recent months, and are likely to increase the closer we get to Apple's annual fall product launch event.

As for the suggestion that Apple TV may be getting a new name, it's worth noting that iTV was the original name for Apple' set-top box when it first announced the device in 2006.

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).

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