Will Siri Be the Magical Key to Unlocking the Apple TV?

It’s a rumor that’s been around for easily two years now, and it just won’t go away. Is Apple really working on making a dedicated TV set?

Not the little black box we know as an Apple TV, but rather a big, Apple-branded television. Such a TV is definitely coming, according to Nick Bilton’s anonymous sources, writing for The New York Times.

What does Apple hope for by entering a market that is already very much in a race to the bottom, with prices on TV sets plummeting? How could Apple bring its typical flair to an industry which is, after all, simply selling the panels that we sit and stare at? The real magic happens in the boxes we attach to our TV, right?

According to Bilton, Apple has a secret weapon up its sleeve, and it’s Siri…

Apple has apparently tried different ways of finally banishing the humble remote control to the history books. iPods and iPhones were tried, just as they can be used to interact with an Apple TV right now, but the company could not find a viable alternative for quite some time.

Steve Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he had “finally cracked it” when talking about an Apple television. But what did he mean? Bilton believes that the missing ingredient was actually Siri, a voice technology Apple debuted in the iPhone 4S.

“It’s the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk: “Put on the last episode of Gossip Girl.” “Play the local news headlines.” “Play some Coldplay music videos.” Siri does the rest.

Of course this experience goes beyond just playing TV shows or the local news. As the line between television programming and Web content continues to erode, a Siri-powered television would become more necessary. You aren’t going to want to flip through file folders or baskets of content, checking off what you want. Telling Siri to “play videos of cute cats falling asleep” would return an endless YouTube stream of adorable napping fur balls.”

Bilton seems convinced that his sources are correct, and that Apple is indeed planning on bringing a Siri-equipped television to market, possibly as soon as late-2012. Claims of large prototypes floating around overseas manufacturing plants make for good justification, though, as we all know, sources can be wrong.

We’re still not convinced we’ll ever see an Apple television, with or without Siri, and if we do, it ain’t going to be cheap.

We’ll all probably still buy it, anyway!