There have been a lot of rumors recently circulating around whether or not the Apple TV will receive its own App Store. Due to the complete UI (user interface) change introduced in the Apple TV 5.0 firmware, it seemed like the fruit company was setting the Apple TV up to be application-ready.
In a long blog post written by Chronic-Dev, the creators of GreenPois0n however, there are some extremely valid reasons why we will not actually see an Apple TV App Store in the near future. Essentially the two biggest reasons are because the Apple TV does not feature a large enough memory to handle downloading numerous applications, and that there is also a need for better input devices besides your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
You can read the complete list of reasons brought up by Chronic-Dev in the quoted area below…
1. Shared Memory Space / Bundle loading Infrastructure
This issue alone is enough to prevent an App Store from appearing on the AppleTV. As of right now there is only one application that runs on the AppleTV, called “AppleTV.app” (formerly known as Lowtide.app, but only on 8M89). The old name of this Application (as of AppleTV 1G) helps explain this phenomenon (Finder.app) every appliance USED to be a standalone plugin that would load as a bundle to the Finder.app (AppleTV.app) as of 5.1b2 this has changed, all of the appliance binaries have been merged into the AppleTV.app binary and all that remains independently is .appliance plist files.
The merge detail appears to be frivolous at the moment, however, the fact remains that all plugins/appliances share the same memory space, footprint, whatever you want to call it (my technical lexicon is atrocious at times, I apologize). Therefore, one false move by ONE appliance/plugin/merchant and the whole house comes crashing down. This drawback is the same reason that since 10.5 (or maybe 10.6) Third party developers were barred from the main contextual menu in the Finder when right/control clicking, if the contextual plugin had a bug in it, the whole menu could crash, same idea.
Never in a million years would Apple let third party developers loose in that mine field (at least I’m pretty confident they wouldn’t!)
2. Input Devices (RE: Gaming Platform)
This reason doesn’t exactly solidify the argument against an app store, it is used to underscore the need for better input devices before the AppleTV could be considered a viable gaming platform. A touchscreen device without any kind of tactile controls (D-pad, joystick, etc..) makes for a terrible gaming controller, the need to look at the screen in your hands to properly control a game on your TV? miserable failure. That being said, with bluetooth capabilities, is it possible a better gaming controller could be made. Airplay mirroring may work well for some games (Real HD racing, etc), however, on a whole, its an incredibly underwhelming gaming experience.
Although these reasons brought up have probably convinced you away from thinking the Apple TV will feature downloadable applications, there has been some evidence for an Apple TV App Store discovered. The evidence is not rock-solid however, and could very simply be Apple being lazy and naming functions incorrectly. Regardless it is worth reading what was discovered.
Between versions 4.2.1 – 4.3.0 a BRMediaType + (id)app was added. In between 4.4.4 and 5.0 -(BOOL)_shouldLoadApp:(id)app was added. A few choice ivar names in ATVMainMenuController also point towards some vague hints about “apps” coming _appsBackground and _appsBackgroundShroud. Of course this kind of “evidence” is pretty flimsy and doesn’t really go very far to prove anything. Aside from the latest layout, those are the only things I can think of that point to the possibility of an App Store.
So will there be an Apple TV App Store coming the near future? At this time I think it is safe to say that downloadable applications will not be coming to the Apple TV until there are larger storage solutions, and better input devices available. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below…