Apple is poised to begin its big push into the living room with a new version of its internet television box designed to challenge Sony and Microsoft with advanced gaming features.
City sources with links to Apple’s supply chain in the Far East said the new Apple TV was expected to come with a sophisticated controller designed to compete with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
The controller is believed to feature “haptic” touch sensors that respond to the force applied to them by the player’s fingers.
Semiconductor industry sources also confirmed rumours that the Silicon Valley giant has significantly increased the processing power of Apple TV to allow the use of complex graphics. It means the new device is predicted to cost much more than the current Apple TV, which sells for under £60.
The announcement of a major expansion of Apple’s video gaming ambitions is expected as part of its latest product update event, scheduled for Wednesday. One source who has seen manufacturing samples of the new Apple TV cautioned that the company could still delay the launch, however.
The San Francisco event will also unveil enhancements to the iPhone and Siri, the company’s voice-control software, which competes with similar services from Google and Amazon.
The enhanced Siri is expected to allow Apple TV owners to control their television with spoken commands.
Expansion in the $40bn global video game market represents an obvious target for Apple. The company is already a powerful force in mobile gaming thanks to the iPhone, which attracts games developers with its vast base of millions of typically wealthy owners.
However, to date Apple TV has been a limited success, selling in the tens of millions rather than the hundreds of millions. Gamers with long memories will recall that Apple has tried and failed to crack the gaming market before. In the mid-1990s, it launched a console called the Pippin, in collaboration with Japanese toy maker Bandai.
The Pippin made virtually no impact on a market that at the time was being revolutionised by the entry of Sony and the PlayStation. Shortly after the failure, Steve Jobs returned to Apple and began the string of blockbuster product launches that has made it the world’s largest technology company.
As well as upgrading the device as a games console, Apple is believed to be working on a major challenge to pay-TV operators by creating its own bundle of streaming programming.
US reports say it is planning to introduce an alternative to a cable TV subscription for Apple TV owners, although this is now not expected to see the light of day until next year.
Sources at major UK broadcasters said they are yet to open negotiations with Apple for an equivalent service in this country.
No one from Apple was available for comment.
The new Apple TV is expected to be launched alongside the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s and a larger business-focused iPad.