9to5Mac is reporting that the latest betas of Apple TV iOS not only includes support for Bluetooth, but you can successfully pair a Bluetooth keyboard with an Apple TV for typing searches (and passwords).
While we’ve known about Bluetooth support being in iOS for Apple TV for a while now, this is the first evidence of it being unlocked in the OS
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.
Pictures included in the post (the video is now marked private and is unwatchable) show a standard Apple Wireless Keyboard paired with the Apple TV and typing in searches (or passwords. I had to change my Apple ID password yesterday and it’s a pain to hunt and peck a password with the remote).
The next question I had is whether this signaled a new Apple TV coming or if Apple TVs have always had Bluetooth and it just wasn’t enabled. Turns out, it’s probably the later. From iLounge News earlier this year:
According to iFixit, the third-generation Apple TV sports a Broadcom 4330 chip that supports dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n connectivity. Coincidentally, this is the same chip found in the third-generation iPad, and is also responsible for its Bluetooth 4.0+HS support. While it is unclear whether Apple will ever take advantage of this functionality, it is noteworthy that the third-generation Apple TV sports an extra antenna, the purpose of which is currently unknown.
Given that Apple only shows the specs for the Apple TV as having WiFi , it appears that you can include chips that have the capability for more wireless functions, but not include them in the specs if they don’t actually work or can be used.
From Twitter is this hopeful remark:
Bluetooth on AppleTV sounds like a good move. I hope it's indicative of an app platform + possible gaming controller in the future. 🙁
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) December 8, 2012
Truly having apps and iOS games and all the rest on an Apple TV would certainly bring more interesting capabilities to the Apple TV.
The only remaining question is then—when—and I really hope it’s soon.