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In what many believe to be a technical glitch rather than some kind of accidental, early leak, the Apple TV briefly displayed several graphics for holiday-themed apps yesterday. The app imagery, which was found in the “Movies” section of the Apple TV navigation, advertised such sections as “Snowsports Apps & Games” and “Time Off, Game On: Deep Games for Holiday Downtime.”

The discovery, made by Mac OS Ken, certainly got my blood pumping, but alas, it seems that apps on the Apple TV aren’t meant to be — at least, not yet.

But can we expect apps in the near future?

appleglitchIn an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently stated, “When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years.” He later hinted that Apple was very interested in the area of TV, but declined to offer more details. Many will point to Cook’s words as a sign that Apple is developing an actual television; however, this is an idea I’m still not sold on. The Apple television has been prophecized for years, and those who have predicted the coming of such a set have been wrong every single time. However, Apple already has a fantastic product in the Apple TV, though it’s missing one key ingredient that could make it a truly killer device: apps.

Apple could iterate on the current Apple TV, offering integration with cable boxes much like Google TV devices do. However, what these Google TV devices lack is the golden touch that Apple seems to employ when it comes to user interface design. There is little doubt that an Apple TV interface that replaces the current cable box interfaces out there would be immensely popular. Throw apps into the mix — for example, an ESPN app that shows scores and stats framed around the current football game you’re watching, or a GetGlue app that lets you check in to the show you’re watching right from your remote — and Apple has a real chance to make real headway in the living room.

While apps support today would be nice, a more likely scenario is Apple unleashing the ability to build apps for the Apple TV at the company’s next Worldwide Developers Conference event. The keynotes at these events are usually the places where new iOS versions are announced, and where developers can learn the ins and outs of the new OS features and APIs. Given Apple’s growing interest in TV, and what the competition is doing with their set-top boxes, I think an app development SDK at this year’s WWDC is a safe bet.

What do you think? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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