Apple is planning to introduce a new Apple TV set-top box and is negotiating with Time Warner Cable Inc. and other potential partners to add video content.
Apple is aiming to unveil the device by April and have it available for sale by the Christmas holidays, though the release date could change because the company is still in the process of securing new agreements with programming and distribution partners.
The new device, which plugs into a television set, will have a faster processor than the previous version and an upgraded interface to make it easier for customers to navigate between TV shows, movies and other online content. An agreement with Time Warner Cable would mark the first such deal with a cable or satellite company.
Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment, as did Maureen Huff, a spokeswoman for New York-based Time Warner Cable.
The product would set off what Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has promised to be a year full of new product introductions. The company also is exploring a smartwatch.
The release of an updated Apple TV box would be different from a full-sized television, which industry analysts such Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray Cos. have predicted.
Apple’s talks with Time Warner Cable have been going on since at least the middle of last year. The lag time between when Apple may announce the new set-top box and its release is because of ongoing negotiations with content providers.
The Time Warner Cable deal would let Apple TV customers see a wider array of live TV channels. For the moment, they can access a limited number of individual channel apps, including Disney, ABC, ESPN, HBO, PBS and Bloomberg TV, owned by Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
Access to some programming on Apple TV requires customers to prove they pay for cable or satellite, a process known as authentication. Each different app requires a login and password to be entered.
In the market for digital set-top boxes, Apple is competing against Microsoft’s Xbox One and Roku’s Internet-connected device.
Amazon also has been working on a TV box and cable company Comcast entered the market late last year with its new digital interface — called X1 — that sells and rents TV shows and films much the way that Apple does through iTunes.
For Time Warner Cable, the deal would advance its “TV Everywhere” strategy, giving customers the ability to watch content on different devices. Its viewing app is already available on Apple’s iPad and tablets running Google’s Android software, as well as Roku and Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
Time Warner’s app currently features 300 channels.