Apple is expected to announces its next generation iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus during a keynote address this Wednesday held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The new iPhones are supposed to bring faster A9 processor, a 3D Force Touch display, and higher resolution cameras (front and back).
However, the biggest announcement to come out of the event likely won’t be the two new iPhones (which is simply a “refresh” this year). Instead, the star of the show is likely to be the next generation Apple TV, which the late Steve Jobs famously described as a “hobby” earlier in its life due to the limited number of units that the company sold.
But Apple can’t simply sit by and let its hobby languish as the competition heats up. While the Apple TV hasn’t seen a major update in over three years, competition from the likes of Roku, Amazon, and Google has only gotten more intense. And with streaming players offering access to their own app stores and even some limited gaming functionality, Apple has a lot of catching up to do.
According to a new report from The New York Times, one area that Apple is looking to pay a lot of attention to is gaming. The Apple TV is expected to feature a potent A8X SoC under the hood, so it will by no means have enough horsepower to take on the likes of the Sony PlayStation 4 or the Microsoft Xbox One. For starters, an A8X doesn’t have the CPU or GPU graphics power to handle AAA titles like Halo 5 or Star Wars Battlefront. And secondly, the amount of storage required to accommodate such titles isn’t going to cut it — Apple is expected to support 16GB of storage at most with the new Apple TV. There’s a reason why the Xbox One and PS4 have at least 500GB hard drives, with 1TB units starting to break onto the scene.
So if the Xbox One and PS4 aren’t a target, there’s one major console player that could face some pressure from the new Apple TV: Nintendo. “I think Apple’s going to create a big new category in gaming, one that others have tried and failed to create before,” said Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson, in an interview with The New York Times. “What the Apple TV has the potential to do is to bring casual gaming to the living room and make it a much more social activity.”
Nintendo made a huge splash in the casual gaming market with the original Wii, bringing people of all ages together to play together using innovative motion controls. Nintendo hasn’t seen nearly as much success with its Wii U, and Apple may have an opportunity to tap into the same market that was ripe for the picking with the Wii.
For those looking for a little bit causal gaming to go along with their requisite media streaming, the Apple TV just might be the ticket. The device expected to start at $149, and could cost as much as $199 according to recent reports. The Wii U, on the other hand, starts at $299 while the Xbox One and PS4 are pricier still at $349 and $399 respectively in base 500GB form.
In addition to the aforementioned A8X processor, the Apple TV will reportedly be available in 8GB ($149) and 16GB ($199) configurations and include its own dedicated App Store. The streaming device’s new remote control is also expected to include touch sensitive and motion controls, and Siri voice recognition is certainly in the cards for universal search. However, one thing that the new Apple TV won’t support is 4K content even though streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are embracing the standard. With that being said, it’s likely on tap as a “one more thing” feature that will be added this time next year.