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New Apple TV Set-Top Box Details: ‘iCloud DVR’ with iPad-Like Interface

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The Wall Street Journal has a follow up scoop on some new features of Apple’s set-top box device that could change the way we interact with our TVs. Features include a digital video record (DVR) feature that saves to the internet (most likely iCloud) and the ability to view shows after they have started in an on-demand feature:

Apple Inc.’s vision for a new device that can be used as a set-top box includes features designed to simplify accessing and viewing programming and erase the distinction between live and on-demand content, people briefed on Apple’s plans said.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company proposes giving viewers the ability to start any show at any time through a digital-video recorder that would store TV shows on the Internet. Viewers even could start a show minutes after it has begun. Time Warner Cable Inc. TWC -0.25% offers a limited version of this feature called Start Over.

As for the interface, the report notes it could look like icons we have come to know on the iPad, with a much easier interface compared to existing cable user interfaces. Other features could include access to social media, such as sharing TV shows to Twitter, according to sources familiar with the matter. Users should also be able to access media from other iOS devices such as an iPhone or iPad.

Apple’s device also may create space on the TV screen for social media features, such as sharing TV shows through services like Twitter Inc., the people said. Apple also wants users to be able to access content from the device on other Apple products like iPhones and iPads.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr did not comment on the matter, which he called ‘rumour and speculation.’

A while back the Globe and Mail noted Apple was in talks with Rogers and Bell over Apple TV plans. Just yesterday the WSJ noted Apple was once again in discussions with U.S. cable companies over using an Apple set-top box to access live TV and other media:

In recent weeks, Apple also has approached entertainment companies, which own television content, with an outline of what it wants the new device to do, distributing, in at least one case, a document outlining its capabilities, one of the people said.

Of course there are hurdles still, as sources note the web-based (most likely iCloud) DVR idea would not be allowed due to existing rights cable companies have over TV content. Entertainment companies would have to give further rights to cable companies to utilize an Apple set-top box, with Apple rumoured to negotiate directly with cable companies about new methods to obtain past seasons of shows it already has rights to via iTunes, directly from the device.

The Journal notes deals with operators and Apple aren’t in place and negotiations remain challenging, referencing Apple’s inability over the past few years to convince entertainment studios to grant increased rights to its TV shows.

What do you think? How hard will Apple have to work to get cable and entertainment companies on board? Are they scared of what Apple will do to the TV industry to how they changed the music industry?

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