Owners of the iPhone who had signed up for AT&T’s unlimited data plan got a nasty surprise on Thursday, when the carrier informed users of a newly-instituted usage cap. Customers will no longer be able to stream and download to their heart’s content without incurring extra charges, or experiencing slower speeds.
There could be an extra surprise at next week’s Apple media event—the new Apple TV. While the media buzz concerning the March 7 Apple press conference centers on the anticipated debut of the iPad 3, reports suggest that there will be another product getting an upgrade at the same time. 9to5Mac quotes sources claiming that a new Apple TV will be unveiled, one with a much faster processor that will give the device 1080p support. Also expected is a new 1080p section for the Apple iTunes store.
One telltale sign that Apple is about to introduce an upgrade is when they allow the existing stock to dwindle, which is happening now with the Apple TV. Retailers are quietly selling off what’s left of the current model to avoid having too many left when the new one arrives.
So what will be the new features incorporated into the next Apple TV? Two rumors are going around, both reasonable. One is a new and improved remote control, one that uses Bluetooth. While you can already use your iPad or iPhone as a remote with Wi-Fi access, Apple could have something better coming. The improvement could be a remote with a built-in mic and Apple’s voice activated personal assistant Siri, now available on the iPhone 4S. Another possibility is a dedicated remote with a touchscreen, so you can save your iPhone or iPad for more important things.
Alas, it’s doubtful that the next incarnation of the Apple TV will live up to the dream that the late Steve Jobs related to his biographer Walter Isaacson before his death last year: “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.” That’s certainly something to look forward to, but we’re not likely to be looking at it next week.
It’s always a big deal when a new Apple retail outlet opens, but the store coming to Houston could have a special first-day surprise—the debut of the iPad 3.