Evidence is mounting that new Apple TV hardware is indeed on the way. According to 9to5Mac, references to the next-generation box have been spotted inside iOS 7 software builds.
Here’s more from the report:
The reference is inside of an Apple TV framework related to the device’s AirPlay functionality. The mention of the next Apple TV is the highlighted “AppleTV4,1.” The current Apple TV is “AppleTV3,2″ while “3,1″ is the 1080P model introduced in March 2012, and 2,1 is the first iOS model introduced in September 2010.
The reference to the next-generation Apple TV 4,1 first appeared in iOS 7.0 in September, but the reference has not been unearthed until now. The sighting of Apple TV 4,1 is confirmation that the new device is in the works. The nomenclature also indicates that the new Apple TV model will remain as part of the Apple TV product family. The jump from 3,2 to 4,1 also confirms that the device will see notable changes in terms of internal components.
Interestingly, the site also says the most recent software builds include some references to the iOS 7 game controller framework. But instead of confirming controller support for the new hardware, it could simply be left over information from the iPad and iPhone version of the software.
News has been slowly trickling out about the new Apple TV. Back in January, a report claimed that the hardware will offer true gaming support.
And most recently, 9to5Mac chimed in saying that prototypes have featured an integrated AirPort Express and even a built-in TV tuner.
Apple could possibly introduce the new hardware as early as March. The substantial iOS 7.1 update could also be unveiled at the same time.