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I was in Seattle last week, so Microsoft could show me the future. One little piece of it was an app for the Xbox 360. A Comcast Xfinity app, to be specific--it's TV-on-demand from your cable provider, built into the Xbox. A few other providers are hooking up with the Xbox too. It seems like an insignificant thing, in some ways, but it also seems likes one possible, maybe obvious, maybe inevitable, future of television: Your cable provider is just an app on a beautiful box, made by Apple or Microsoft.
Apple made the Apple TV a little better yesterday. It plays 1080p video now. The neatest thing, sort of, is that it works with iCloud, so if you buy a TV show on your iPad or iPhone or iMac, it appears on your Apple TV. It's good technology in that it's designed so you won't notice it's there, kind of like the Apple TV itself, which is a tiny black box that fits in the palm of your hand and whose presence is practically swallowed by a TV of any size worth watching. It just works. Unlike your cable box.
This is what things might look like, roughly: You will boot up your TV, along with the box of your choice. Maybe it's made by Microsoft, maybe it's made by Apple (maybe if you're unlucky, it's made by Google). When the screen lights up, you'll have a bunch of apps, like launch Hulu or Netflix or MLB.TV or YouTube. Or you can launch your Time Warner app, and channel surf, using an unshitty guide, designed by whoever made your box (which of course connects to all of your other devices, like your phone, tablet, computer, etc. You bought them all from the same company, right?). Or maybe you just want to watch Law & Order, so that's what you punch in, or call out to your TV. It finds Law & Order, wherever it is, whether it's on Netflix, on Time Warner. Easy.
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