Is there anything worse in your Apple ecosystem than trying to put a password into your Apple TV with the Apple TV remote? There are a couple of things that come close, like hidden gestures in iOS, but lack of Bluetooth keyboard support with the Apple TV takes the cake. Mark Gurmen over at 9to5Mac, along with some help from Sonny Dickson, figured out that not only will iOS 5 bring Bluetooth support to the Apple TV, but that it also opens up the possibility for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch connections directly to the Apple TV, without the need for Wi-Fi.
Gurman also speculates about the possibility of including applications on the Apple TV either directly, or over bluetooth. While we wish it was true, Bluetooth transfer rates currently in v2.0 + EDR capable devices can transfer data at a rate of about 2.1 Mbit/s; whereas the Bluetooth v3.+ HS specification can theoretically transfer speeds up to 24 Mbit/s. While that’s some pretty decent bandwidth, it pales in comparison to the 802.11n transfer speeds available over Wi-Fi. If we’re going to see applications on the Apple TV being streamed from an iOS device, then it’s likely going to be over Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth at this point. However, Bluetooth connectivity is not something to be taken lightly. A whole host of peripherals, controllers (that’s key), and keyboards could find their way onto the shelves in homes that take advantage of all the Apple TV has to offer both now, and in the future.
Back in October 2010 we had a quick chat with David Frampton over email about the possibility of bringing games to the Apple TV using AirPlay, and more specifically if we would see Chopper 2, Frampton’s game, on the Apple TV if given the chance. Long story short, Frampton pointed out that the compression rates and bandwidth needed to effectively pull it off were still lacking in the Apple TV. If it was going to happen, applications would need to be directly on the Apple TV, and not streamed over AirPlay.
Nothing has changed hardware wise since our chat with Frampton, both in the iOS device and networking technologies in Apple products, so we’re still going to take David Frampton’s word for it. It may be on the horizon, but it won’t be here any time soon. If anything, applications will have to be directly downloaded and installed on the Apple TV.
We agree with Gurman though, the Apple TV could certainly stand to gain from more applications like a web browser based on Mobile Safari, and even applications like the Major League Baseball application to work side-by-side with the Apple TV and MLB.tv streaming. Could you imagine a world where the current iPad application could overlay the video feed from a game, live, while the game is going on? Talk about a truly immersive experience.
As an aside, if peripherals are the key end game for Bluetooth on the Apple TV, we’d expect to see Apple directly look to take on the video game consoles by letting users connect controllers to the device over Bluetooth, and download games from the App Store directly to the Apple TV. If there’s one thing Apple’s lacking, it’s a gaming presence in the living-room. They have the games, they have the delivery device, and now all they need is a controller, and we’re good to go.