Apple TV gaming hinted strongly in iOS 4.3 beta code

Let's not jump to any conclusions, but a trusted tipster has uncovered evidence that's suggests some folks in Cupertino have learned a thing or two from Xbox Live. New code in the iOS 4.3 beta 3 firmware hints that Apple TV may soon support online gaming. Several references have been found pertaining to "ATVGames" and "ATVThunder" that point to a controller of some sort, leaderboards (think Game Center), a way to schedule games (multiplayer?), and a store front (think App Store, iTunes). We're particularly intrigued by two strings -- "" and ".play.archive.thunder" -- but what those actually mean in the grand scheme of things is ultimately ambiguous. Apple TV's minimum storage capacity (about 8GB) suggests the company might look to streaming not entirely unlike how OnLive works; as our tipster speculates, the OpenGL is mature and thoroughly implemented enough that streaming low bandwidth data and computing locally could happen, but that's just theoretical with nothing in the code to back it up.

Additionally, there are two more codenames and a handful of other strings that popped up relating to Apple TV: Sedona and Flagstaff. Based on references to director, episode, season, and the like, we reckon Sedona is all about video merchandising and streaming, something tightly integrated into the traditional iTunes experience. As for Flagstaff, aside from a nod to Account Types and Merchants (i.e. iTunes merchandising), there's really nothing else to say. Think of it as a mystery wrapped in an enigma hung on a, erm, flag staff. Our tipster found numerous other little goodies, but the only other one really worth bringing up is feature_remote_screensavers, which suggests that you can use screensavers from other devices -- like, say, your Mac.

Finally, elsewhere in the world, Alex Hisrbrunner used a Harmony remote to find hidden Apple TV commands that resemble iOS functions not normally possible with the standard ATV remote -- namely, wiggling icons that can me resorted using the directional pad. Video of that is after the break.