Apple TV: the new XBox?

Apple TV is an odd beast. It's every bit as powerful as the iPad, and could easily be used to bring iOS apps to the TV in much the same way Google TV aims to do with Android apps. But Apple is resisting that, and keeping Apple TV's software locked to a limited media program for renting TV and movies - even though that's essentially just an app running on iOS.

But a glance at the code of the upcoming iOS 4.3 suggests the Apple TV's future might be a bit more flexible. Some code hidden away in the beta of iOS 4.3 makes reference to 'ATVGames' - that's Game Center, Apple's gaming-social-network-thingy - and an 'ATVMerchant' which sounds an awful lot like an App Store for Apple TV.

Now, this could just be leftovers of something cancelled, and Apple will tread slowly in turning its 'hobby' into a full-blown XBox competitor. But make no mistake - if the $99 Apple TV got even smarter it would start looking like a must-have item. So stay tuned, we may know more once iOS 4.3 formally launches in the next few weeks.

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