According to an article by Nick Bilton on The New York Times, Apple is indeed working on a television product that could be publicly announced in late 2012, and released in early 2013. Rumors of an Apple-made television, not just a TV set like the Apple TV, go back to the original announcement of the iTV, a set-top box that would later become the Apple TV, which made many wonder whether Apple could ever disrupt the television market by offering content deals and a new way to access and interact with television programming. A statement by Steve Jobs in the recently released biography by Walter Isaacson gave new credence to such rumors -- Jobs said "he finally cracked it", leading many to believe Apple had been working on a hardware product set to revolutionize the television market.
According to Bilton however, the revolution isn't strictly about the hardware design or physical remote controller -- rather, the Apple television will heavily rely on Siri -- Apple's voice-based assistant for the iPhone 4S -- to let users easily execute tasks such as searching for online content, switch channels, get the news and weather information, or the latest episode of a TV show.
Alternative remote ideas floated by Apple included a wireless keyboard and mouse, or using an iPod, iPhone or iPad as a remote. None of these concepts worked. But there was one “I finally cracked it” moment, when Apple realized you could just talk to your television.
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.
Bilton claims several people within Apple have confirmed the existence of prototypes and parts floating around, with a source even saying the television is "a guaranteed product" from Apple, with the only question being when the company will decide to unveil it and release it. Bilton says getting components for large displays to drop under a certain price target could be an issue for Apple, and he notes that the user-friendliness of Siri applied to a television could be also hinted by Jobs saying "it will have the simplest user interface you could imagine" when referring to such a device in his authorized biography. Siri was acquired by Apple last year, and it's currently exclusive to the new iPhone 4S.
In the past year, Apple released the second-generation Apple TV and updated its software multiple times to include a selection of new channels, content deals, iCloud-based functionalities and deeper iTunes integration with streaming and previous purchases. A recent rumor also claimed Jeff Robin, co-creator of iTunes, has been put in charge of the Apple Television project.