Lest there be any doubt that DVR functionality was purposefully left out of Apple TV, consider this patent recently unearthed by AppleInsider. Filed in October of 2006, the patent describes not just a version of Apple TV capable of browsing and recording live TV programming, but a touch-based remote that could be preloaded with upcoming TV listings to facilitate it. From the patent:
For example, program data for upcoming programs, e.g., for the next month, can be downloaded and stored on the remote control device. Thereafter, a user of the remote control device can search programs that are to be broadcast and determine which programs to record. The recording settings can be programmed onto the remote control device, and then be provided to the video device when a data communication is established between the remote control device and the video device.”
Pretty slick, eh? Lots of additional possibilities here as well. One could easily imagine the iPod Touch and iPhone serving as the remote the patent describes. And if this next-generation Apple TV is capable of recording TV programming, why not make it the gateway through which such programming is delivered? How nice would it be to subscribe to HBO–and HBO alone–via iTunes? How nice would it be to subscribe to a season of “Weeds”? Or to a commercial-free season of “The Office” and skip everything else NBC has to offer? How nice would it be if the latest unwatched episode of “Weeds” on your Apple TV was automatically synced to your iPhone for later viewing? How nice would it be if new films opened on iTunes the same day they opened in theaters?
Pipe dream? Perhaps. Certainly, these scenarios would require Apple (AAPL) to ink some fantastical new licensing deals with Hollywood. And the two aren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye all the time these days. Still, you never know. Stranger things have happened.