How Close Has the Apple TV Come to Steve Jobs’ Vision?

Apple has been making quiet progress in the world of television, having recently attracted favorable developer interest in the latest Apple TV and even reportedly considered a buyout of Time Warner. Especially tantalizingly, it looks like Apple could be edging closer to the kind of television revolution that Steve Jobs had been intent on.

“An integrated television set that is completely easy to use”

According to Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, the tech legend “very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players and phones”. He quotes Jobs expressing his desire to “create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use” and “would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.”

How Close Has the Apple TV Come to Steve Jobs’ Vision?
Apple Inc.

While the fourth generation Apple TV launched last year is, for all of the fervor that has surrounded it, still ultimately a set-top box rather than a complete television set, it does otherwise match Jobs’ description with the manner in which it is entrenched in the broader Apple ecosystem. For avid iPhone or iPad users, it’s perhaps the best choice of home hub.

Did Jobs think Siri-ously?

Now, here is perhaps the most tantalizing detail that Isaacson let slip about what could have been Apple’s next big hit under Jobs. Apparently, with this product, “no longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels”; Jobs is quoted as declaring: “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

Exactly what user interface Jobs had in mind here will probably never be publicly known for definite; Isaacson has admitted to leaving out some details of “what [Jobs] thought the next Apple TV should be”. However, shortly after Jobs’ death and the biography’s publication, The New York Times writer Nick Bilton claimed, following alleged exchanges with people in and close to Apple, that “a Siri-powered television” was what the firm was thinking of.

How Close Has the Apple TV Come to Steve Jobs’ Vision?
Apple Inc.

Yes, the future of television really could be apps

Bilton’s conclusion immediately brings to mind the Siri Remote that is one of the fourth generation Apple TV’s appealing features. Looking through loads of enticing content is certainly easier when it can be done simply by talking to a remote. However, as is clear in the following interview, Jobs was aware of other issues that would prevent Apple from turning the Apple TV into the kind of revolutionary product that it wanted.

Now, that was several years ago – and, today, the rise of apps enabling easy streaming of a variety of exciting TV content means that current Apple CEO Tim Cook’s declaration, upon revealing the latest Apple TV, that “the future of television is apps” looks like a wise one. Plus, with a consistent UI reminiscent of that which Jobs seems to describe in the interview above, could this Apple TV almost be considered a posthumous Steve Jobs project?

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