Microsoft has announced a brand-new game console today, though the company would probably be disappointed to hear that I called it that. The Xbox One is really more of an entertainment center all-in-one -- it's designed to connect your games, your streaming media and cable television all together in one set-top box. In some ways, it's a competitor to Apple TV. The Xbox One will also include a new Kinect camera, which will boast Siri-like voice control over all of its functions, and allow users to switch back and forth between live games, live TV or any of the console's various apps.
Obviously, that release is only tangentially related to Apple and its products, but there are a few closer ties that might become more important in the future. First up, Microsoft has already confirmed that the Xbox One will work with its SmartGlass system, for which there is already an app on the iPhone and the iPad. It's unclear just what SmartGlass will do for the Xbox One, but we'll stay tuned for more functionality on that end.
And second, Microsoft is apparently learning from Apple. The Cupertino company has famously been making its own "system-on-a-chip" hardware lately to go into new iPhones and iPads, and Microsoft has now done exactly the same. The Xbox One's CPU is a chip based on AMD designs, but customized by Microsoft's own R&D labs. There are a few reasons for that, including the power requirements, and the fact that the Xbox One actually runs a few different operating systems at a time (to easily switch back and forth between the games and the TV content). But Microsoft clearly borrowed the model for the hardware from Apple, and presumably later versions of the Xbox One will have even more customized chips in them. The Xbox One is due out sometime this year, but there's no official release date announced yet.