Apple’s iTV killer app? FaceTime

Apple Online Store“On Saturday, Digg’s Kevin Rose posted that Apple’s rumored Apple TV replacement, expected to be called the iTV, will (and I quote) ‘change everything.'” David Gewirtz writes for ZDNet. “His premise is that the iTV will replace cable and satellite services. Honestly, I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t put it past Apple to try to control what you’re allowed to see, read, and watch through yet another medium.”

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“Kevin also suggests how the iTV would work if it were based on the iPad’s iOS,” Gewirtz writes. “I’ve been a long-time, long-suffering Apple TV user and it’s relatively easy to picture some of what Kevin’s suggesting. But I also think he’s missing a very, very big possibility: FaceTime.”

Gewirtz writes, “It makes sense for Apple to refresh the Apple TV and transform it into an iOS device. First, the current Apple TV is a complete orphan, with a hacked OS that doesn’t really work for anything. Moving it to iOS would improve maintainability, if nothing else. Then, of course, iOS would almost immediately score the device Netflix. That, alone, would be a major upgrade for the Apple TV. But there are many apps that would be nice to use from a couch.”

“Although Apple is unbearably restrictive in how it allows anything to connect to iOS devices, it makes a metric frak-ton of sense for Apple to ship an iTV device that allows a webcam to be plugged into it,” Gewirtz writes. “At that point, you no longer just have little tiny screens talking to little tiny screens, like a modern day, incredibly annoying Dick Tracy. Instead, you can have Mom and Dad on the couch, talking to Muffy in college. Or grandma on the couch, talking to Baby Biff in his crib.”

Gewirtz writes, “Now, I have to admit that this all seems quite horrid to me. I don’t really want to see people when I talk to them. But I’m not a grandparent. I’m anti-social, and all my friends are ugly. For the rest of the world, I’m betting a FaceTime-equipped iTV device will create entire new legions of rabid, insane, Apple fans. Oh, joy.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, joy, indeed! No sarcasm, on our part, at all; the more the merrier, we always say!

Right now, in many circumstances, FaceTime is useful as hell, provided both parties have iPhone 4’s. The more devices that can utilize FaceTime, the more valuable it becomes. The quicker Apple ties it into iChat on Macs, gets it into iPod touch units with cameras, and spreads it everywhere else that they can, the more products they’ll sell.


  1. Yes, FaceTime will be on the iTV. I assume it will also be in the iChat soon. I also expect to see it as a FaceTime for Windows. Apple wants the video conferencing market too. This also has a very large corporate application as it rolls out.

  2. Apple would need to come out with its own camera like the original iSight, which could zoom and pan via remote or it wouldn’t work. Even so, I think Apple would rather rely on iPads for this feature than iTV.

    iTV will not replace cable/satellite. Those industries are far too entrenched, with significant licensing contracts with content providers (e.g., DirecTV’s $5 billion deal with the NFL), for Apple to come in and take over. More likely is an on-demand, streaming service for renting shows, both commercial free or with commercials. I don’t think Apple wants to be in the TV programming business, as it’s become the field of niche cable stations as network TV continues its decline.

  3. “Although Apple is unbearably restrictive….”
    Even that, you can do a lot more with an apple device than you can do with any other’s company product.

    I will buy a car for what it can do and it’s quality, not because of it’s specifications. Specs not always translate into functionality.

  4. > It makes sense for Apple to refresh the Apple TV and transform it into an iOS device.

    Whenever I hear that, it makes no sense. “iOS” is defined by its GUI, which is basically defined by using “multi-touch” on the screen. You are NOT going to be touching the screen to interact with any type of new “Apple TV” device that connects to an HDTV. It may have some type of remote control with multi-touch features, but you are not going to be touching the screen, just as we have multi-touch trackpads for Mac but do not touch the Mac’s screen.

    And I don’t think it is necessarily a good idea to make an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad into a “remote control.” A remote control is one device where having physical buttons is important. Ideally, when you use a remote control, you should not have to constantly look at the device to see where your fingers are located. You should be able to keep your eyes focused on the HDTV screen that is 5 or more feet away from you, not constantly change focus back an forth from the HDTV screen to the remote control device. A remote with a small number of well-placed physical buttons let’s you “use it blind,” whereas a flat touch-screen with drawn buttons does not (unless you get really familiar with it).

    Once you remove the “touch the screen” aspect, it is no longer “iOS.” It is another different “OS” that is based on a Mac OS X foundation, with a different GUI that is optimized for purpose.

  5. “Honestly, I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t put it past Apple to try to control what you’re allowed to see, read, and watch through yet another medium.””

    WTF does THAT mean? So providing a service to people is somehow controlling? Friggin stupid.

    Well then let’s start screaming about how Directv CONTROLS what people can see depending on how much they pay.

  6. @ SamLowry

    > Do you look at your trackpad when you use it …?

    As I said in my own post, it may make sense to have “some type of remote control with multi-touch features.” That would include a something that is like a trackpad (or has a trackpad), where movement on the tracking surface equals something (like a pointer or selection highlighting) moving on the screen. Your eyes stay ON THE SCREEN, not the trackpad. You may still want to have real buttons for things like volume control and power; even an iPhone has physical buttons for sound volume and power.

    What I was describing as “being less usable” was making an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into a remote control, that has ALL on-screen control buttons. Part of the screen may be a tracking surface to control something on the screen, but you would still need some buttons for specific functions, such as sound volume or play, fast forward, backward, pause, next, previous, etc. Yes, maybe you can create multi-touch “gestures” for such functions, but that seems overly complicated and unintuitive for Apple. So if it draws such controls on the screen, you would have to look at the remote control to see where you are going to touch it with your finger.

  7. My prediction for the killer iTV APP is … an iTV APP. Meaning I hope to see iTV be an APP I can download onto my iPad or iPhone – if nothing else but to stream (not load) my video library to my iToys via the internet no matter where I am. I know AirStream already does that – but the exception is that AirStream will not stream any DRM protected video. I would hope that an iTV APP would.

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