Hints of Apple TV Gaming found in iOS 4.3

Engadget are reporting that an enterprising iOS 4.3 Beta SDK snooper has found some rather interesting bits and bobs in Apple’s Beta software which tend to hint at some kind of online gaming experience coming to the Apple TV.

Specifically in the latest iOS 4.3 Beta 3 Firmware, strings related to “ATVGames” and “ATVThunder”, which Engadget theorise is the codename for controllers, have been found. And a couple of other strings that have been found are equally curious; “com.apple.appletv.play.live.thunder” and “.play.archive.thunder”.

Apple works on a lot of things that never see the light of day. And it is as certain as them having a Retina display iPad on campus, and Steve Jobs probably having an early iPhone 5 prototype by now, that Apple has been experimenting with the possibilities for gaming on the Apple TV.

The general consensus at the moment is that with the limited space on the current Apple TV, and Apple’s new data centre due to come online, Apple may well be readying an “OnLive” type of streaming gaming experience for their “hobby” TV project. The Apple TV is more than capable of providing real time gaming from small installed apps, and also playing back streamed gaming content from a central server cloud running the games remotely and sending visuals to players.

At the end of the day the Apple TV is more than capable of playing any current iOS game or software, and is also rumoured to be getting an update very soon – with perhaps even more graphics and CPU horsepower – as well as perhaps more on board storage.

Right now the Apple TV is comparable to the Wii in terms of processing power, and entertainment capabilities. With an Apple A5 inside it’s going to be nipping at the heels of fairly contemporary console hardware. Apple would be foolish not to capitalise on that possibility, and the massive iTunes network it has for distributing entertainment content to its users.

For those of us with a few grey hairs it is possible to remember a time when Apple tried to do a console for the first time. The Apple Bandai Pippin! That didn’t fair too well. But this time around Apple seems to be in a much better position to pull a gaming console off.

Some other interesting things were found in the latest iOS SDK Beta; when an Apple TV is controlled using a Harmony remote. Some functions seem to be available, which are quite similar to existing iOS functions for moving apps around, and other management activities – which again would suggest an expansion of what the OS on the Apple TV can do.

What do you think? Apple TV to be a gaming console in future? With streaming game content, or installed apps? Have your say in the comments..

AppleTV 2 Remote Touch Behaviors

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Stephen NorthcottHints of Apple TV Gaming found in iOS 4.3