An HDTV from Apple has been long rumored, and it looks like dreams could be coming true for Apple fans sometime before the end of 2013. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has been consulting component suppliers in Asia, which means the development of a television set by the popular iPhone creator could be very real.
So why would anyone want an Apple HDTV specifically? For many, the main appeal could be FaceTime, which could be Apple’s best selling feature if it enters the HDTV market.
Why is FaceTime Apple’s “Killer” Feature?
Data from a survey released on December 11, by AlphaWise and Morgan Stanley, showed that nearly 47% of Americans would be interested in an Apple branded HDTV. Furthermore, a quick Google search for Apple TV and FaceTime returns a plethora of message boards and articles with instructions on how to mirror a compatible iOS device through an Apple TV, making it possible to use FaceTime with a television.
Currently, it is possible to mirror FaceTime to an HDTV using an Apple TV when running iOS 5 or later on an iPad 2, new iPad, iPad 4, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5. These methods work in a pinch, but if users had an actual Apple HDTV, not just the set top box currently offered, they would be able to FaceTime with better image quality directly from the television itself. This could also bring in new Apple adopters, since it could prove to be an appealing feature for anyone that video chats regularly, whether it’s for work or to keep in touch with loved ones, by eliminating extra equipment or third party services.
Current HDTV Video Chat Options
There are plenty of ways to video chat using tablets, smartphones, iPods, and more; but there remain few easy ways to video chat using an HDTV. One of the best options currently offered is through Comcast’s Xfinity, which offers HD video calls using Skype on internet enabled HDTVs, for $9.95 USD a month. Skype on Xfinity requires the use of a camera that rests on top of the television and gives users unlimited video calls as well as text messaging with the monthly fee.
Beyond Comcast’s Skype feature, there are not many ways to video chat via an HDTV, without using a third party middleman. This lack of easy-to-use HDTV video chat services could be what ends up paving the way for a successful Apple HDTV with FaceTime. By offering the convenience of FaceTime directly through an HDTV, Apple would be further streamlining its user experience.
When Can You Get One?
Tim Cook remained relatively tight lipped about the theoretical Apple HDTV in an interview with Brian Williams on NBC’s Rock Center. When the topic of an Apple HDTV was brought up, Cook stated it is “area of intense interest, I can’t say more than that.” While most sources note the fact that Apple TV set top box has always been somewhat of a side pet project for the iMaker, they are also saying that it now seems possible that an Apple HDTV could be in homes by the end of 2013.
Macworld UK published an article referencing the NBC interview, pointing out a correlation Tim Cook drew between the Jetson’s television communication device and FaceTime. Many feel Cook’s Jetson’s reference is the next best thing to an official confirmation from Apple regarding the Apple HDTV or its purported FaceTime feature.
FaceTime for iPad and iPhone auto adjusts the clarity of the image using iSight. This allows the device in use to offer a clear picture to the person on the receiving end, and keeps the subject in focus. A television would have to have facial recognition in order to auto adjust the image, which is why it is currently only possible to video chat using an attached camera, but reports suggest facial recognition is something Apple has been working on.
CultofMac reported that one of its sources was privy to the prototype of an Apple HDTV that integrates iSight, for free FaceTime calls, and that the design of the could resemble the Apple LED-backlit Cinema Displays. They also noted that the alleged prototype shows that it might feature Siri, the virtual voice activated assistant introduced with the iPhone 4S. The source also suggested that the HDTV could incorporate AirPlay, an element already included with Apple TV set boxes that lets users mirror compatible iOS devices to their TV. AirPlay would presumably allow users to mirror their MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 model and later), iPhone (iPhone 4S and later), and iPad (iPad 2 and later) through the HDTV screen with a single click.
Apple has a leg up with its fan base, and if they can get into the market with an easy-to-use FaceTime feature that requires nothing more than the television itself, it could certainly sway buyers. While it is easy to set up a webcam on a television and use Skype, FaceTime would eliminate any extra software, equipment, or cables, which could be very appealing for those that want a hassle free video chat experience.
With so many different operating systems available, it could also appeal to those who wish to operate off one familiar OS for each device — making it easy to switch back and forth between smartphone, tablet, music player, and possibly TV. If Apple fans are offered the same convenience with their television that they are offered with their iOS devices, it makes sense that they might gravitate towards purchasing an Apple HDTV. Also, with the few simple options that currently exist for HD video chat, it could even bring in more Apple adopters before other companies jump on the trend.