Along with beta testing the iOS 6.1 firmware for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Apple also is beta testing a new Apple TV firmware that will likely ship alongside iOS 6.1 in the coming weeks. We have already talked about the various changes and new functionality in the iOS 6.1 firmware, like the ability to purchase movie tickets using Siri, but not much has been known about the mysterious Apple TV beta firmware… that is until now.
9to5mac have posted an interesting discovery this morning. It looks like Apple’s latest beta firmware for the Apple TV includes a new Bluetooth menu that is actually capable of paring wireless keyboards to both the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV.
Once connected, you can use a wireless keyboard to completely control the Apple TV without using the included remote. The arrow keys function for navigation. The return key is the play/pause and the escape key maps to ‘menu’ or up ‘one level’ functionality. More importantly, searching for content becomes a thousand times easier when you can enter search terms with a hard keyboard.
It looks like this is an input only move for Apple for the time being however, as pairing Bluetooth speakers, a mouse or even Macs to the Apple TV doesn’t work. Even so, this is a big move for Apple as it opens the doors to 3rd party remotes for the Apple TV. Even the rumored “Apple Remote” with a noise cancelling mic could be possible in time.
Tim Cook said that the TV is an area of interest and it is likely we will keep seeing improvements to the Apple TV like this until a full-fledged “iTV” is released.