Apple may be on the verge of a major update to its set-top box. 9to5Mac noticed that Apple has rejiggered its online store to feature the Apple TV more prominently. The device used to be listed in the iPod department, but it's now shown as a separate category alongside Macs, iPads, iPhones, and iPods. There doesn't appear to be anything new in the Apple TV section just yet, though.
The current Apple TV has been around for about a year, so it's due for an update. Rumor has it the upcoming refresh will add gaming capabilities, possibly with a dedicated controller. Existing iOS devices will reportedly work as controllers, as well.
Any Apple TV update is likely to include an A7 SoC. The chip has enough horsepower to run mobile games on the iPad Air's 2048x1536 screen, so smooth frame rates at 1080p should be no problem. 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity is probably in the cards, too. 9to5Mac says "versions of the Apple TV in testing" even offer AirPort-like router functionality. Finally, a storage upgrade will almost certainly be required for games. The existing model has only 8GB of onboard flash, none of which is directly accessible to the user.
Besides being overdue for an update, the Apple TV is facing renewed competition in the living room. The new generation of game consoles has an increased focus on delivering media content. Microsoft has been particularly aggressive on this front, and the market could soon welcome another big player. Google is rumored to be cooking up a Nexus TV box with gaming capabilities. That device is said to have smartphone controls and an aggressive price point. Let's hope it goes over better than the ill-fated Nexus Q.
I've long said that the next computing revolution will be televised, and the battle for living room is well underway. Miniature devices like the rumored Apple TV update and Google's Android alternative likely won't be powerful enough to satisfy serious gamers, but they should be sufficiently potent to feed Candy Crush addictions and handle media duties with aplomb. That's all a lot of folks need these days.