If Apple does release a connected television called the iTV, it could let you access any show, speak commands using Siri, and browse the web.
That means Apple could stake a claim to your mobile life, your morning commute (since most cars these days work the best with an iPhone and many have 30-pin ports), your office, and your home entertainment.
What would be left? Obviously, Microsoft still owns the corporate desktop, and embedded Linux is not going away anytime soon.
But home entertainment is one of the last steps towards consumer domination.
As you might expect, the iTV will work just like the iPhone and iPad by offering apps you can run on the television. Here are the ones we want.
Okay, let's start with Spotify. This app has fallen out of favor with some of late, especially since you have to listen to advertising in the free version and there's still no iPad version. Apple would need to work out a licensing agreement, which is a landmine of self-destruction since users might not buy as many songs. Yet, imagine the potential: a home entertainment system implies surround-sound speakers, so Spotify could become a whole-house persistent Internet radio service on mobile and on your television.
2. Google Maps
Mobile mapping tech has exploded – companies like Garmin are worried. The apps have robust POI lists and turn-by-turn directions. There are mounts of major Android models and the iPhone for your car window. But on a television, mapping is also a fertile ground. A Google Maps app is a no-brainer, but the real innovation will come in how it connects to you mobile device: sending navigation directions after your family agrees on vacation plans, seeing a street view on a 42-inch display, and browsing through photos you captured on your phone and pinned to the exact GPS coordinates.
We want a banking app that also connects to your mobile. This should be more fluid than it is now: you could run the app and see a list of recent purchases, call up a customer service portal with a video chat to ask about a new mortgage, or control how a future iPhone model uses Google Wallet or the Square app for that day. (Helpful if one of your kids starts using near-field communication for payments.)
The iTV could revolutionize home shopping. Today, the lean-forward ecommerce on a computer works well, but impulse shopping would work even better on a home television - rather like Amazon Windowshop on iPad. You might be watching an episode of Doctor Who, and an iTV shopping app could pop up and tell you which leather jacket a main character is wearing. Lean-back shopping could prove highly lucrative for Apple.
5. Zynga games
We already know there is a great opportunity for gaming on the iTV well beyond playing Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. If the iTV has a powerful next-gen processor, the television could even take on the PS3 and Xbox 360, at least offering casual games like From Dust that do not require high-end graphics. The best games might be from Zynga, though, since there's a stronger social aspect. The iTV could show a pop-up video of other players in their living rooms and even use a Kinect-like gesturing system.
We expect a Twitter app, but in the home entertainment market, there's added potential for tweeting about which shows you are watching, asking questions about an actor in a movie, and better location-awareness: tweeting that you are now home and watching Top Gear. This app also needs something brand new: a better live feed at the bottom of the screen showing tweets of closer friends and family.
7. Amazon Kindle
Honestly, we're not sure if this one will even work, but the idea is interesting. The Kindle app on an iTV should work like the original Kindle and read the text to you. This means home entertainment might work in the reverse of the current norm: we'd watching something on the iPad or listen to music on an iPhone while the iTV reads a book or maybe shows complex diagrams in HD.
Once again, Skype is common the desktop. But the main problem with the service is you have to have your laptop up and running to connect. On an iTV, Skype could always be running, so you can take video calls, hold a videoconference with co-workers, and even stream your family activities securely.
The iTV will likely have a camera for taking pictures and recording video, which will work well for family snapshots. But the iTV is not portable, so Instagram would likely work more as an editor of photos you've taken with your phone. In a group setting, multiple users could interact via voice and gesture to do a group edit of family photos. That's an interesting paradigm shift, because it's hard to get a group of people around a laptop, but easier if the entire clan is in front of a 42-inch television.
10. SkySports or ESPN
A sports app like Sportacular, ESPN ScoreCenter or the new Sky Sports for iPad opens up a whole new feature set on the iTV. Sports scores for mobile is one thing, but tying sports data to your current program is even more interesting: scores from other games, comments from people watching the same match, and even a multi-window feed of several games at the same time could become the best way to watch sports ever.
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John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.