It's been some time since the Apple TV has received much attention from Apple, and no, dropping the 40GB model and the price on the 160GB model doesn't count. But just in time for the holidays, a new iTunes Store Terms of Service agreement may have let the cat out of the bag.
When I checked for iPhone OS app updates and Season Pass downloads this morning, the iTunes Store prompted me with a new TOS agreement. Admittedly, I wasn't interesting in reading such a scorcher from beginning to end, but Apple fortunately highlights the major changes above the agreement. There are two TOS changes of note this time around, the first being a clarification of how and when film rentals can be moved between devices.
The second is a bit more interesting, especially for owners or soon-to-be-owners of an Apple TV:
The Terms of Sale have been revised to clarify that you can now use iTunes LPs and iTunes Extras on Apple TV with software version 3.0 or higher.
The Apple TV is at software version 2.4 right now and, so far, a version 3.0 upgrade has yet to hit the wire. Apple's support document that lists Apple TV software versions and changes has also not been updated yet.
The arrival of iTunes Extras and LPs on Apple TV is pretty interesting by itself. But since the iTunes LP format is based on Web technologies, this also means that Apple would have to add some version of WebKit—the Web rendering engine that powers Safari and an increasing number of other browsers—to Apple TV. Put two and two together, and one could quickly begin wandering down speculative roads that other web-powered services, such as Hulu and Netflix, may either be on their way from Apple, or easy to enable with third-party utilities.
Still, we've been expecting a software upgrade for the Apple TV for a while now, and support for iTunes Extras and LPs—new features and formats that are simply begging to be displayed on an HDTV—is a great place to start. But since it is the holiday season, we certainly hope that an upgrade as large as a 3.0, whenever it arrives, will bring at least a few other features and fixes as well.