Apple TV with a camera is the rumor that will never die

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in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV

For years, Apple has reportedly been considering the addition of a camera to the Apple TV set-top box -- and the rumors about it have fired again.

A future Apple TV could include a camera
A future Apple TV could include a camera



There are very few devices in Apple's catalog of computing devices that doesn't have a built-in camera. Alongside desktop Macs like the Mac mini and the Mac Studio, the other main exception is the Apple TV.

While it does not have its own, the Apple TV does have the capability to employ cameras. With the introduction of tvOS 17, Apple introduced Continuity Camera, which enabled a second-generation Apple TV to run FaceTime by taking advantage of an iPhone or iPad's camera systems.

Previously, users could also get a similar effect of putting FaceTime on the big screen by using AirPlay with an iPhone or iPad to the Apple TV. But this technique relied solely on the features of the connected device for the call, with the Apple TV just mirroring a display.

If rumors over the years are to be believed, Apple may well bring out a version of the Apple TV that houses a camera at some point. Here's what has been said about the potential device.

Early camera on Apple TV rumors



In March 2021, there were rumors Apple creating a HomeHub that fused together an iPad and a HomePod into a single smart screen device. The report also said that Apple had been working on many different home devices in various form factors, specifically employing displays and cameras.

At first blush, this sounds more like a smart speaker with a display, similar to FaceBook's Portal system. However, in April, Apple reportedly had firmed up its new product selections, and had decided that an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker was the best approach.

The device would theoretically offer multiple smart home functions within a single box. As a HomePod, it would play music, but it would also be able to be hooked up to a television, like an Apple TV.

That box would also include a camera, which would let it be used for video calls, as well as acting as a Home Hub for smart home management.

An artist's rendition of a HomePod with a display
An artist's rendition of a HomePod with a display



This device was also being worked alongside the already-explored smart speaker with display concept.

Both were apparently in the early stages of design and production at the time, and could easily have had features added or removed, or be killed off entirely.

A lull then references



Rumors about the supposed Apple TV died down for a while. Still, reports about the standalone HomePod with Display persisted.

In October 2023, there were alleged rumors about code references in a developer beta of tvOS 17.2, which mentioned some unusual devices. Alongside the HomePod range, there were some listings for unannounced Apple TV models, as well as an oddity.

There was apparently support files in the firmware that allowed the software to work on an iPad mini 6. This unusual inclusion could've potentially allowed tvOS to run on a specially-configured iPad mini, which opened the door to the display-clad HomePod idea once again.

There were also drivers for the iPad mini in the tvOS 17 frameworks for audio calibration, which could signify audio capture capabilities were being tested in some way.

Heading into 2024, more beta references turned up in February, apparently pointing towards a HomePod with a built-in display. The device, "Z314," was apparently capable of running tvOS, which is effectively the software that HomePod runs except that the speaker doesn't include a user interface.

The code indicated the device was running an A15 Bionic chip, which was thought to mean it could be a device in a late stage of development.

Apple TV with camera rumor resurrection



The newsletters of Bloomberg's Mark Gurman have been a source of numerous rumors, including those surrounding the Apple TV and screen-equipped HomePod. This has amped up in 2024.

In a February newsletter, Gurman wrote that, while the products are currently in the investigative and engineering phases of production, a release in 2024 was very unlikely.

FaceTime on Apple TV is possible, but requires iPhone assistance
FaceTime on Apple TV is possible, but requires iPhone assistance



More recently, in an April discussion of Apple's future smart home plans, there were mentions of multiple devices being planned, including a lightweight "smart display" meant to connect to home devices.

The HomePod with a connected screen once again appeared, as well as the potential shift into robotics.

The article included a brief mention about Apple "offering a revamped Apple TV set-top box with a built-in camera for FaceTime videoconferencing and gesture-based controls."

Gurman didn't go into detail about the Apple TV, but if true, it means Apple's sparingly-rumored set-top hardware improvement could still be on the way.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,418member
    A soundbar form factor Apple TV with a built-in HomePod plus Apple TV functionality plus Center Stage compatible wide format camera seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Why mess around with 3 or 4 devices tethered together with wire or wireless when you can have a single compact solution in a form factor that has already been proven to be popular and convenient by millions of users? There’s no reason to resort to a cobbled together solution. If Apple’s current designers can’t figure out how to solve this, hire Jony.
    roundaboutnowiOS_Guy80OferAlex1N
  • Reply 2 of 30
    To me, an AppleTV with a camera built in doesn’t make sense, as most people try to hide the AppleTV box behind the tv or in a place that isn’t conducive to having a camera strapped to the front of it. I’m still waiting for someone at Apple to read these forums and build a HomePod/Soundbar hybrid that has an AppleTV box already built into it. Small screen on the front for the time/track/channel information and place to visualize Siri, and sure, you could put a camera in there like a Dynamic Island. Most people mount the soundbar below the TV on the wall or just below the TV on a shelf, so having a camera there would make sense for FaceTime calls. Throw in a wireless subwoofer for good measure (and an additional $199) and you can certainly count on taking my money.
    Alex1Ndanox
  • Reply 3 of 30
    jblongzjblongz Posts: 167member
    Surely Apple has been testing cameras in Apple TV for several feature ideas:
    • Exercise/Interactive games.
    • AR - Placing self in different environments on screen
    • Facetime
    It may not be release any time soon, or at all, but it makes sense that engineers are exploring it.  


    Amazon has been successful with their Echo Show (thought limited in features) with the addition of a display and camera.  It provides the essential Fire TV features, video calls, and works great for checking in on kids at home.  

    rezwitsAlex1N
  • Reply 4 of 30
    The only rumor that never… never… will die is: “There will be a cheaper (write any Apple product)!”

    All other rumors sooner or latter will die!
  • Reply 5 of 30
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 542member
    Camera doesn't have to be on the "front" of the Apple TV... 


    jeffharrisAlex1Nbloggerblog
  • Reply 6 of 30
    tshapitshapi Posts: 371member
    Not camera! Projector! That’s my 2 cents 
    VictorMortimerwilliamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 30
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 797member
    I wish there was a way to connect my old FireWire 400 iSight camera! That's definitely the coolest looking camera!

    Are there FireWire to USB-C adaptors out there?
    Or do I just dig out my 1Ghz Titanium PowerBook?
  • Reply 8 of 30
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 797member

    dewme said:
    A soundbar form factor Apple TV with a built-in HomePod plus Apple TV functionality plus Center Stage compatible wide format camera seems like a no-brainer to me. 
    Why mess around with 3 or 4 devices tethered together with wire or wireless when you can have a single compact solution in a form factor that has already been proven to be popular and convenient by millions of users? There’s no reason to resort to a cobbled together solution. If Apple’s current designers can’t figure out how to solve this, hire Jony.
    A soundbar with TWO HomePods spaced far enough apart to get actual stereo image sound could be nice. 
    One cable to connect it all. If Apple TV 4K supported HDMI eARC, too.

    I use a pair of KEF LSX (+ KEF KUBE 10b sub) with Apple TV 4K as my bedroom "soundbar".
  • Reply 9 of 30
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,597member
    I access "Apple TV+" on my iMac which already has a camera on the front. And I do FaceTime video conferencing with it. And FaceTime does have a dozen "gestures" that can do some small things in the video stream.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 10 of 30
    dewme said:
    A soundbar form factor Apple TV with a built-in HomePod plus Apple TV functionality plus Center Stage compatible wide format camera seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Why mess around with 3 or 4 devices tethered together with wire or wireless when you can have a single compact solution in a form factor that has already been proven to be popular and convenient by millions of users? There’s no reason to resort to a cobbled together solution. If Apple’s current designers can’t figure out how to solve this, hire Jony.
    Exactly what I was thinking.

    There are a good number of "smart" soundbars for corporate meeting rooms that are a similar concept. These devices usually include 6-mic arrays in addition to a camera that can auto track room participants (most of these cameras are e-PTZ, some are actually small motorized PTZ cameras). Many have "PC-less" Zoom/Teams capability, although these can get pricey. 

    In the consumer space, there is the Roku soundbar. These run "apps" (even including AppleTV app). I have a Roku soundbar with the mating wireless subwoofer, and it is possible to mate a couple of extra speakers for surround. 

    An AppleTV based integrated soundbar that can be mated via Airplay2 to subwoofer and/or surround speakers would be cool. Come to think of it, an Apple TV soundbar that can run the Zoom or Teams apps would be a great solution for home or office users. As long as we're at it, a lower cost version without camera like the Roku should be offered too.

    PS: Speaking of FaceTime...would be good if FaceTime on the Mac gets integrated screen sharing (that lets you pick which app window to share like Zoom/Teams does, not just entire desktop). And with markup/whiteboard capability.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 11 of 30
    Just what I need, another camera to tape over.

    Also, what's with everybody wanting soundbars?  I've never understood it.  I've got REAL speakers, with actual separation.  I haven't done the overhead channels, but I've got front left, right, and center, rear left and right, and a reasonably large sub.  You're never going to get that from a 3' long plastic box with tiny speakers.
    jeffharris
  • Reply 12 of 30
    TravisVTravisV Posts: 9member
    If they ever do put a camera on their Apple TV it should be the size of the one on the Mac's so it is well hidden. Not some big glaring lens.
    edited April 8 williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 30
    Just what I need, another camera to tape over.

    Also, what's with everybody wanting soundbars?  I've never understood it.  I've got REAL speakers, with actual separation.  I haven't done the overhead channels, but I've got front left, right, and center, rear left and right, and a reasonably large sub.  You're never going to get that from a 3' long plastic box with tiny speakers.
    Soundbars can actually be pretty good, especially when mated with a separate subwoofer. They won't be as good as a set of quality separate speakers, but they are much less intrusive and are much easier to install. I emphasize "quality" on the separate speakers because I have been in rooms with crap separates--I will take a good soundbar+sub over these any day.
    OferAlex1N
  • Reply 14 of 30
    nubusnubus Posts: 414member
    Also, what's with everybody wanting soundbars?  I've never understood it.  I've got REAL speakers, with actual separation.  I haven't done the overhead channels, but I've got front left, right, and center, rear left and right, and a reasonably large sub.  You're never going to get that from a 3' long plastic box with tiny speakers.

    Soundbars are for those happy about AirPods and Sonos. I have both and a rather large Beosound Shape setup. But going back to cables? No way!

    The idea of a camera in a soundbar is stupid as the position is too low. Dell XPS had the Chin Cam for years. No way Apple will deliver that kind of experience.
    OferjeffharrisAlex1N
  • Reply 15 of 30
    Rogue01Rogue01 Posts: 161member
    dewme said:
    A soundbar form factor Apple TV with a built-in HomePod plus Apple TV functionality plus Center Stage compatible wide format camera seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Why mess around with 3 or 4 devices tethered together with wire or wireless when you can have a single compact solution in a form factor that has already been proven to be popular and convenient by millions of users? There’s no reason to resort to a cobbled together solution. If Apple’s current designers can’t figure out how to solve this, hire Jony.
    And then when the AppleTV portion becomes quickly outdated, then you can throw away the entire contraption because it will be useless.  There is a reason why they are separate components.  Much easier to replace one and not the entire thing.  That is exactly why Apple scrapped the Apple-branded TV.  No one replaces their TV every few years.  Their solution was the AppleTV 4th Generation that arrived on the market instead of a TV.  Jony would make your contraption too thin and it would lose all functionality.  There is a reason why Apple products now work much better.  Jony and his obsession with thinness is gone.
  • Reply 16 of 30
    nubus said:
    Also, what's with everybody wanting soundbars?  I've never understood it.  I've got REAL speakers, with actual separation.  I haven't done the overhead channels, but I've got front left, right, and center, rear left and right, and a reasonably large sub.  You're never going to get that from a 3' long plastic box with tiny speakers.

    Soundbars are for those happy about AirPods and Sonos. I have both and a rather large Beosound Shape setup. But going back to cables? No way!

    The idea of a camera in a soundbar is stupid as the position is too low. Dell XPS had the Chin Cam for years. No way Apple will deliver that kind of experience.
    A camera in a soundbar would not automatically be too low if you consider how many TVs are wall mounted with the bottom edge 36-48" off the floor. In the conference room example I mentioned above, it's done all the time. Wall mounted TVs at that height are also quite common in residential applications.

    And if your TV is on a low table, it would not be too terribly difficult to figure out how to mount a camera/soundbar above the TV...
    edited April 8 williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 30
    Though I have 3 generations of Apple TV, I don’t see a reason to get the 4K alongside Google TV 4K. All are hidden behind the TVs. It’s ridiculous to an “eye” or so called a “camera”.   If Apple wants to add something new, add a projector. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 30
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,349member
    Make it USB-C powered, and 90% of the AppleTV bulk disappears; they could make something no bigger than a small webcam. With a couple of cameras, FaceID structure point cloud. 

    Turning any screen into a special webcam seems like something that might have a market. 
  • Reply 19 of 30
    Michae1Michae1 Posts: 20member
    Continuity Camera is an highly underrated feature that easily adds a really good camera wherever you need it.   
    williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 30
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,753member
    They should have shipped a real TV years ago and that's where the camera would sit perfectly. Make it a clip on magnetic affair with its own wifi and let users stick where they want (in case they don't want it on the TV) or just remove it for complete privacy.

    The nonsense about the TV business being a low margin industry has nothing to do with premium offerings that do far more than regular TVs. 


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