News Anchor for the Apple TV?

With WWDC starting next Monday, rumors are abound on iOS 6 and Applications for the Apple TV. This will be the first WWDC without a Stevenote and it’ll be quite interesting how his successor can bring that legacy to the next level.

Should Apple wants 3rd party applications on the Apple TV, do you want News Anchor on your Apple TV? Would you like your favorite blogs and news sites be presented on your Apple TV television-style? Then you don’t need to put up with news networks likes of CNN or ABC news and be forced to listen to irrelevant crap news. You determine your own news on your Apple TV – instantly. No need to wait for your iMac to boot and the hassle of logging in.

News Anchor running on an iMac

Think of it: television for blogs on television. This just sounds so meta. Then who’ll need living TV anchors to simply read the news to you? It’ll be yet another job wiped out by technology and will change news networks like CNN to eventually become something like the Galactic News Network (a fictional news agency that has a robot as an anchor, part of the Master of Orion game).

Galactic News Network - Master of Orion - Screenshot

Writing a version of News Anchor for the Apple TV will be a lot of work for us. Perhaps more work than the first two versions of News Anchor for the Mac itself:

  • Defining the interaction model.
    An Apple TV will likely be controlled by a small remote with very minimum number of keys: arrow navigation, select, and cancel. Chances are Apple will still be using the same infrared remote for the Apple TV, even with Apple TV Apps.
  • Writing back-end services to support RSS selection.
    Typing an entire URL to subscribe to a blog just won’t fly on a TV. Thus adding news feeds to a channel will need to be an entirely menu-driven process – with zero typing. This calls for a large collection of blogs and news sites that can be selected and added to your news channel. Which means some kind of server-side web service that provides this curated list just like iTunes Podcasts Directory.
  • Curating the RSS library.
    In addition to coding the back-end services for RSS selection, the directory also need to be maintained and kept up-to-date. As you know, some sites works better with News Anchor whereas others are barely usable. Only sites that have their entire article content in the RSS can be used as sources for News Anchor. On another note, some sites doesn’t provide good resolution images in their news feeds – which shows up badly upscaled as News Anchor tries to show. All these calls for a specially curated RSS directory for News Anchor. On a similar note, both Mac and iPad versions of News Anchor can make use of that same web service.
  • Re-writing the user interface components.
    This depends whether Apple decides to base the Apple TV on OS X or iOS when it becomes programmable by 3rd parties. The latter will be more likely since the current Apple TV is based on iOS. Since News Anchor was written for OS X – which means AppKit – an entire new set of classes are needed to handle the Apple TV’s new graphical API.
  • Porting a text-to-speech engine.
    Apple does not provide OS X’s text-to-speech component to iOS, as of iOS 5.1. What about Siri, you might ask? They don’t let 3rd party apps to use it. If Apple still doesn’t bring this component to whatever OS in the upcoming Apple TV, then we need to bring our own code that speaks text out loud.

Back to the original question: Would you want us to make News Anchor for the Apple TV? Please let us know. You can comment below, contact us via e-mail or use the contact form.

Thanks and we’re looking forward for your opinion!


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