We already know that Apple is on the verge of announcing the iPad 3, which is now confirmed for March 7. Obviously, the tablet will be the feature presentation, but a less followed storyline is that the Mac maker will probably also update the small black puck that is currently the Apple TV.
That's right: I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm not referring to the real Apple TV full-size set that everyone is awaiting with bated breath. Hopefully, a minor refresh of the current Apple TV set-top box will hold eager buyers over until the real deal emerges.
One of the telltale signs that Apple is about to update any of its product lines is that its distribution channels to third-party retailers and distributors starts to dry up ahead of time as supply becomes constrained. Apple obviously doesn't explicitly tell its partners to expect an update, but the same story reliably plays out every time. This is exactly what's happening with the current box, including through retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Amazon.com, among others.
Let's consider what to expect from an updated Apple TV set-top box. The current version uses Apple's custom ARM Holdings-based A4 processor, which is now starting to age. The A4 was originally released in the first iPad in 2010 and subsequently made its way into the iPhone 4 and current Apple TV. Its successor was the A5, which similarly followed suit starting in the iPad 2 and then the iPhone 4S.
- Apple I (1976)
Apple I (1976): Apple's first product was a computer for hobbyists and engineers, made in small numbers. Wozniak, left, designed it and Jobs dealt with the funding and marketing. The computer went on sale priced at $666.66</p>
- Apple II (1977)
Apple II (1977): One of the first successful personal computers, the Apple II was designed as a mass-market product, retailing at $1,298, and was the first personal computer to feature colour graphics. Several upgrades for the model followed, and the product line continued until 1993. It was so popular that Jobs' fortune exceeded $100 million by the time he turned 25.</p>
- Lisa (1983)
Lisa (1983): Following a visit to Xerox's research centre in Palo Alto, California, Jobs was inspired to build the first commercial computer with a graphical user interface, with icons, windows and a cursor controlled by a mouse. It was the foundation for today's computer interfaces, but the Lisa, which cost a whopping $9,995, was too expensive to be a commercial success.</p>
- Macintosh (1984)
Macintosh (1984): The Macintosh was heralded by an epic advert shown during the Super Bowl, directed by Ridley Scott, which referenced George Orwell's 1984. Like the Lisa, the Mac had a graphical user interface, but it was faster and at $2,495, a quarter of the price. People soon realised its potential for desktop publishing.</p>
- iMac G3 (1998)
iMac G3 (1998): In 1985, Jobs and Apple's CEO, John Sculley clashed, leading to his and Wozniak's resignation from the company. When Jobs returned to Apple 11 years later, Apple was struggling. The radical iMac was the first step towards healing the ailing company. It was strikingly designed as a bubble of blue plastic that enclosed the monitor and computer. It went on sale priced at $1,299.</p>
- iPod (2001)
iPod (2001): In 2001, the game well and truly changed when the first iPods went on sale. The first generation of iPod cost $499 (£400), but as Apple updated and modified the winning formula, prices came down. Of course, it wasn't the first digital music player with a hard drive, but it was the first successful one. The iPod's success prepared the way for the iTunes music store and the iPhone.</p>
- iTunes (2001)
iTunes (2001): Apple also introduced iTunes in 2001 - a media-playing computer programme, useful for playing and organising music and videos. The music store was added in 2003, with 200,000 songs at 99 cents, or 79p, each, giving people a convenient way to buy music legally online. iTunes is now an integral part of Apple software: the iPhone cannot be used without first 'synching' with the owner's personal iTunes.</p>
- iPhone (2007)
iPhone (2007): If the iPod laid the foundations, then the touch-screen iPhone is Apple's towering glory. The world was introduced to 'apps', which made the phone a device not just for making calls but for managing money, storing photos, playing games and browsing the web. Apple is now the world's most profitable maker of phones, and the influence of the iPhone is evident in all smartphones. The current model, the iPhone 4, sells for $749 (£612), and the arrival of the iPhone 5 is eagerly anticipated.</p>
- iPad (2010)
iPad (2010): Dozens of companies, including Apple, had created tablet computers before the iPad, but none caught on. The iPad finally cracked the code, creating a whole new category of computer practically by itself. In the case of the iPad, Jobs, famed for identifying and creating the next big thing, seems to have created a market where none existed. The highest spec iPad currently retails at $699 (£659).</p>
I'd expect the new Apple TV to carry an updated A- processor, either a rumored improved A5X or entirely new-generation A6. It may also incorporate Siri, as I expect Siri to find its way into every Apple mobile device released from here on out, and eventually into Macs.
I'm also betting that the expanded presence will benefit backend voice-recognition provider Nuance Communications eventually, although Apple and Nuance's relationship status on Facebook would be "It's complicated."
The iPad 3 is practically guaranteed to carry a high-resolution Retina Display, which could easily handle 1080p HD content. As of right now, all HD content in iTunes maxes out at 720p, which is also the highest resolution the current Apple TV supports. Chances are that these two devices will launch simultaneously and set the stage for a broader migration within iTunes for 1080p HD content.
It might not be the full-size game-changing Apple TV, but it'll do for now.
This article originally appeared on Dailyfinance.com.