People in the market for a new set-top box this year may have a new option to choose from come summertime. John Paczkowski of Buzzfeed reported today that Apple plans to unveil a new version of the Apple TV at its Worldwide Developers Conference this summer.
The new box is supposed to be a “complete overhaul” of the Apple TV, which hasn’t been updated in two years. It will reportedly feature integration with Siri, along with a software development kit that will allow app developers to build experiences that run natively on the TV for the first time. Based on an earlier rumor from the Wall Street Journal, Apple is also preparing a subscription TV service for the box that would allow people to stream channels without a cable subscription.
It’s also supposed to act as a home automation hub for devices that use HomeKit, the home automation framework that Apple introduced last year. With all of those features put together, the Apple TV could become a much more capable rival to other devices like the Chromecast and Fire TV that have appeared since its last update.
These rumors come after Apple cut the price for the existing Apple TV to $69, and announced an exclusive partnership with HBO to provide its new HBO Now over-the-top streaming service to people who own Apple devices.
The Siri support is reminiscent of what Amazon is doing with its voice search feature for the Fire TV and its Echo digital assistant. Both of those applications have show the power of having voice recognition available in the living room, and it would be unsurprising to see Apple release a competing product.
Apple executives have long criticized the TV experience, but to date, the Apple TV has been a paltry substitute for a cable subscription, at best. These updates may make it a more appealing option, though.