1. Scaling Up from Simple

    Potential of a Software Development Kit for the AppleTV. Scaling Up from Simple.

    The appleTV is the iPhone for the living room. Its a relatively inexpensive but powerful piece of hardware capable of video, audio, and graphics. Like the iPhone platform, a Software Development Kit for the AppleTV could bring an explosion of uses. This includes gaming using various controllers including the iPhone, simple widget information applications like news headlines, video chat, social network updates and new living room experiences. 

    Importantly, and unlike like other devices connected to the TV, the appleTV is already super simple to use. It can be extended with peripherals that allow greater interaction, but at its core its extremely simple. This core feature would give it greater acceptance as a device used by all family members. This idea.wirus article will explore the potential of a Software Development Kit for the AppleTV.

    As a Gaming Platform. Scale UP from simplicity, not the other way around

    The most obvious extension of the AppleTV abilities would be as a gaming platform. Its limiting factor is the simple remote that comes with the AppleTV. Simple games could be played though with the existing remote.

    Unlike every other device connected to the TV, the appleTV starts from simplicity. The base unit could stay mostly as it is. Complexity through controllers or USB devices could be added.

    [ pic ]

    Games could also use the iPhone as controller, since with the accelerometer its position can be determined. 

    Use iPhone or Touch as Motion Controller, Secondary Screen, and Voice Networking

    The iPhone screen could be used as a private view screen for users competing against each other, for example in Scrabble, Poker, or even football offensive and defensive plays. The motion sensor in the iphone or Touch could be used as a Wii like controller.

    Setting up the game initially, or talking while in game could also use VOIP or chat features.


    1. Football games are far more fun when the other player has no idea what play they are about to set in motion. This is possible by using the iPhone as a secondary screen.

    2. Player 1 iPhone is offense. Player 2 iPhone is defense.

    3. The actual games could be simple. Set the play in motion by selecting plays with the iPhone, but keep the game simple. For example player one would only control the quarterback throwing the ball by making the motion with the Touch. 

    Using Social Networking Tools for Casual Gaming

    Unlike Sony Playstation, Nintendo, or Xbox proprietary networks, games on the iPhone are enjoying success using popular social networking tools such as Facebook for cross network game interaction, since people are already on these networks. Popular social networks could become the social glue for the AppleTV, play the facebook poker edition on a computer or in the comfort of your own living room?

    Simple Applications

    Simple internet data driven applications would also be popular on the AppleTV. These apps already exist in Mac OS X as dashboard widgets, scaling them to provide information to AppleTV would be natural. These include the weather, social network notifications, news headlines, stock quotes, movie listings which could be linked to Apple Trailers, and a shared family Calendar view. Like the Nintendo Wiis glowing exterior when there is a message, the AppleTV either through a new light or a USB extension indicate if there is new information to be displayed. For example if your facebook friend as uploaded a new photo set, Its a much nicer experience viewing this content in a multi person setting like the family room.

    Video Chat

    The USB port on the AppleTV provides much potential benefit. One would be video chat in the comfort of the living room. iChats existing multi person interface would be a natural for casual video conferences, which could then launch into a shared Scrabble game.

    Example of Scaling Functionality

    A fitness program could be used simple as a series of canned exercises controlled in order by the simple AppleTV remote. If the app senses the Wii like remote it would request the user hold the remote in certain ways, then track progress. The app could be further extended via an iPhone app. After the user goes for a run, the iPhone app would sync with the AppleTV app, and show a history, mapping, charting, and competition stats with friends.


    1. Fitness program. This shows the scalability of the AppleTV platform from simple to interactive. At the basic level the fitness app could be used as a series of canned activities.

    2. Or the user could use the patented apple remote that senses location. This is much like the Wii controller.

    3. Or use the iPhone and its location services for a true workout that feeds information back to the AppleTV


    The AppleTV hardware is already built for extension with its USB port. It could be used to add the motion controller, extra storage space, or an iChat friendly camera.


    The iPhone platform grew in unexpected directions when the Software Development Kit was released. What was originally labelled as an internet device, innovative phone, and best iPod has quickly added gaming to its list of best in class usage. This was completely due to third party developers realizing the popularity of portable bite sized gaming, and its instant acceptance as a gaming platform by the public. What was once thought as a hand held marvel with 3 strong capabilities, has exploded to an invaluable device meeting thousands of differing needs. Independent developers with its proper world class tools have been allowed to implement their dreams and share it instantly with the world. What new ways would developers take the ‘dumb screen’ all present in our living rooms with a software development kit ? Please add your own ideas here !

    The AppleTV with an SDK is exactly what the market needs. Despite maneuvers by the 3 console makers to be the center of the living room, none meet the criteria of a simple basic device. The AppleTV starts simple, and can become more complex by adding the patented motion controller or iPhone platform. This is key for adoption into the family room.