Feb. 10, 2011 at 2:24 PM ET
Online gaming may be coming to Apple TV, making the device that has met with lukewarm sales (for an Apple product) more appealing to buyers.
"A trusted tipster has uncovered evidence that suggests some folks in Cupertino have learned a thing or two from Xbox Live," reports Engadget. Apparently, new code in the firmware update for iOS 5.4 beta 3 "hints" at as much:
Several references have been found pertaining to "ATVGames" and "ATVThunder" that point to a controller of some sort, leaderboards (think Game Center), a way to schedule games (multiplayer?), and a store front (think App Store, iTunes). We're particularly intrigued by two strings -- "com.apple.appletv.play.live.thunder" and ".play.archive.thunder" -- but what those actually mean in the grand scheme of things is ultimately ambiguous. Apple TV's minimum storage capacity (about 8GB) suggests the company might look to streaming not entirely unlike how OnLive works; as our tipster speculates, the OpenGL is mature and thoroughly implemented enough that streaming low bandwidth data and computing locally could happen, but that's just theoretical with nothing in the code to back it up.
Last fall, Apple released a revamped and reduced-price version of Apple TV. The $99 device, which is 4 inches square, accesses content from the Internet and plays it on TV. A previous model of Apple TV was larger and cost $229.
Sales of the new Apple TV have exceeded 1 million units, an impressive number, considering Apple sold 250,000 boxes in the first six weeks after release. According to AppleInsider, sales estimates of the previous generation model were believed to be less than 1 million per year.
With online gaming thriving, the move to add it to Apple TV would be a natural and give Apple yet another avenue into gaming that it has done so well with on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.