Rumor: Apple TV’s wireless, multi-touch keyboard - Macenstein

Rumor: Apple TV’s wireless, multi-touch keyboard

Who doesn’t like reading rumors on the weekend? I know for me, it’s right up their with reading the Family Circus each Sunday morning. Faithful Macenstein reader Doug writes us with news of an upcoming Apple TV update and the first Apple TV-specific accessory, a multi-touch Apple keyboard:

“a new keyboard. bluetooth. aluminum with design and keys just like existing wireless. but to the right a touch-sensitive area. it is aluminum and backlit. a thin groove defines the edge of its area. it is programmable. it can illuminate a numerical pad. a click wheel. a standard trackpad. a keyboard. whatever. create your own.

some intrepid investigators have noticed the apple tv has a unused bluetooth capability. not for much longer. you will be able to pair this keyboard with the apple tv. why? an apple tv software update will include full .mac compatibility. check and write email, surf, organize photos, create and order a photo book or upload them to a .mac gallery, and ichat, even video ichat. plug in a USB webcam, or even a digital camcorder or just a digital still cam as long as it has video capture and USB.

apple tv gets a standard hardware upgrade. slighter better processor and video card, but storage can go up to 340GB. the bigger the drive the more stuff you can buy from itunes.

you better recognize!!

Doug seems to love being recognized, and has sent in quite a few rumor tips for upcoming Apple inventions, none thus far 100% accurate (yet none 100% INaccurate either) but his theorems are usually plausible and fun to discuss.

Back in October of 2007 a patent filed by Apple inventor Wayne Carl Westerman for a multi-touch keyboard was uncovered, yet hinted at a completely multi-touch keyboard, as opposed to Doug’s proposed keyboard/multi-touch trackpad rumor. Of course, patent filing drawings are rarely indicative of the final product, and could simply have been created to illustrate the underlying technology in Doug’s keyboard. Currently there are ways to get your current Apple keyboard and mouse to work with the Apple TV, yet nothing officially sanctioned by Apple has surfaced. As the Apple TV continues to add features (such as YoutTube integration) the need for an improved input scheme is becoming more apparent.

Doug’s multi-touch keyboard certainly seems like something we could see one day, but I am not sure just how many multi-touch trackpads Apple would have to order between keyboards and laptops to bring a multi-touch keyboard’s price down to a consumer-friendly level. Perhaps Doug has merely picked up on my loathing of .Mac’s insinuation of itself into all things Apple and knew the idea of tying it into the Apple TV would get me to bite. Also, we’re not entirely sure what he means by “some intrepid investigators have noticed the apple tv has a unused bluetooth capability“. There is no built-in hardware support for Bluetooth in the Apple TV (as far as we know) but you can access Bluetooth devices via a USB dongle, so perhaps he is merely referring to the Apple TV’s software supporting Bluetooth connections.

What are your thoughts?

26 Responses to “Rumor: Apple TV’s wireless, multi-touch keyboard”
  1. acidscan says:

    If real, all this could give the Apple TV a BIG advantage and real usability. It’s a shame the amount of things that could be done with that thing and have it only limited to see movies/tv/etc.

  2. Jonro says:

    That might be enough for me to go out and buy an Apple TV and replace that B&W G3 hooked into my home theater.

  3. pdx says:

    that…would…be…AWESOME. I would trade one of my three testicles if my ATV could do that.
    Also, it would save me from having to get a mini for my living room.

  4. Ethan says:

    I think the product is plausible, and fits in with Apple’s current support for MultiTouch on their laptops. Why talk about it in terms of Apple TV though? This would not be designed specifically for Apple TV, but would be an replacement for/addition to Apple’s current keyboards for desktops and laptops. It might also happen to work with Apple TV (given support is in some future update).

    IMO it could have a display or it may not have a display (and would only be for simple control of onscreen objects).

  5. AG Pennypacker says:

    Oh Doug, what would the rumor scene do without you?

  6. Eugene says:

    If true this would be fantastic. I would use it with my mac mini which I use as my entertainment center and is attached to my HDTV.

  7. zippi says:

    I want one!

  8. Brethil says:

    What about lefties?

  9. Alex says:

    Keyboard on the couch? Never gonna happen from Apple. They know better.

  10. rabid Doug says:

    never said it was ONLY for apple tv. but to be able to sit on the couch and have it in your lap, AND have a mouse replacement built-in, was deemed necessary to make .mac on the apple tv plausible

  11. Ashley says:

    I don’t see how a touch-pad can be used (effectively) with multi-touch (since there is no concept of a pointer).

    If there is a slider on TV how do you know exactly where to touch on the touch-pad if the doesn’t overlay the image.


  12. rattyuk says:

    Love it BUT the AppleTV doesn’t have bluetooth…

  13. Kody says:

    One thing I have always loved about apple labtops is their trackpads, I for one really like the idea illustrated in the above pictures.

  14. rabid Doug says:

    I have found conflicting reports about bluetooth. some have used a USB dongle. others seem to be clear it is IN the machine. a tear down might not reveal it, a bluetooth chip is no bigger than fingernail, and there are a dozen or so unidentified chips on the appletv mother board. also, intel makes cpus with bluetooth integrated, so there may not be a separate bluetooth chip at all. and, very oddly, the cpu in the appletv appears to be something apple wants kept secret, see this link:

    but, it is very clear the system software shipping on the appletv contains bluetooth software and frameworks – since this operating system was custom-built for the appletv, its inclusion must be relevant. an update could easily activate it.

    on a separate note:

  15. AP says:

    So much for the left-handed. No-go.

  16. mirwords says:

    This is the ultimate peripheral for apple. it will be the first step in switching to a completely multi-touch interface. Granted the possibilities of AppleTV suggested are a big of a stretch, but the use of this device with a Mac could be incredible.

  17. Anon says:

    You could solve the ”left handed problem” by making
    snap-on / slide into place connections on both sides of the keyboard with power+data connections on both sides.

    Left handed people would just slide the display / multitouch pad onto the left side. Right handed people could do the opposite.

    AppleTV 3.0 can get improvements designed for the iPhone / iPod touch.

    Just add better software, faster CPU, stronger GPU graphics and more RAM and larger Hard Drive. Add in the BlueTooth connection and it becomes a perfect HDTV internet information device.

    AppleTV could then become a game machine,
    internet terminal, e-mail station, chat box,
    and play a key part in iTunes music,
    video, TV shows and movie rentals.

    With the new AppleTV, why pay for cable?
    Anything you want – on-demand via iTunes.

  18. Bizlaw says:

    This makes much more sense for the next iMac update. A multi-touch keyboard means that a multi-touch screen is unnecessary, and the keyboard offers many more advantages than a touch screen would.

    The biggest problem would be getting people to switch and take the time to learn how to use multi-touch instead of the tactile feedback from traditional keys. Ever since a typewriter, people have had physical feedback to striking a key, and the multi-touch keyboard would be totally different. If you think people complaining about the iPhone’s touch keyboard was overblown, wait until the first touch keyboard for a PC is released.

  19. Martin says:

    I would love to see this work with my PS3!

  20. John says:

    Why AppleTV? Why can’t we get that for osx?

  21. A device like this opens up the box for gaming and net-surfing on the couch. Sites searched on a big screen TV could be optimized for that practice just as sites optimized for an iPhone are.

    Years ago MS did the ‘web TV’ thing. Didn’t work. But Jobs and Apple have some flair for knowing when things are in place for that Next Step. Back in the day, how many had a fast connection? How many had a high-def, big-screen TV? (NOBODY, that’s who.) The web itself adapts faster than ever to new hardware like iPhone,

    Then there’s digital photos. Who DOESN’T want a better way of looking at digital photos on their own big-screen HDTV?

    Add to that the fact that the US will be pretty much OBLIGED to go digital after next year. There will only be more and more digital, large-screen TVs out there – all begging for new peripherals to go with. Really, it’s like buying a new house. Next stop – the furniture store.

    Fact is, the world is waiting for this keyboard. Don’t forget the Wii-style controller… or just build one in to the iPhone.

    I see this coming, and I see it succeeding. (Did I mention the need for a Wii-style controller as well?)

  22. Andrew says:

    I see this as being VERY possible. I mean come on have you ever tried to search YouTube on an Apple TV. With the “Sub”-Standard remote it takes forever and away from the actual desire behind looking up a video. . .

  23. Ok guys. This is clearly discriminating for left handed people. Do you think that Apple, who puts specular USB port in its keyboards since Pleistocene so you can plug in a mouse wherever hand you may prefer to use, is gonna come out with this offense to the left handed community?
    Hey, the most creative people are lefties, and the most creative people usually use Macs 🙂

  24. Interesting but outdated, theres better choices around now 😉

  25. As the above comment stated, there are many alternatives which are only getting better and better with the future market.

  26. Mark says:

    I really do hope Apple releases a keyboard like this. Right now there are no Mac-compatible bluetooth BACKLIT keyboards. The only ones that come close are a few by Microsoft and the Logitech diNovo Edge, but they are not fully Mac-compatible.

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