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Apple TV: Changing the Channel? (Update 3)

Updated from August 16 to provide additional detail in the fifth and sixth paragraphs.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Just when you thought it was safe to say news about Apple's (AAPL) television strategy was slow, think again. This time, it looks like Apple might be changing the channel in its approach.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm is in talks with U.S. cable operators about building an Apple set-top box for live television.

Apple has been trying its damnedest to get into the living room, and many thought an actual television set would be at the heart of its strategy, particularly given former CEO Steve Jobs' comments about creating one. "It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson. "I finally cracked it."

Apple already has a set-top box, Apple TV, but the device hasn't really taken off. It provides content from places like Netflix (NFLX), Hulu Plus, YouTube and others, but it doesn't offer live channels from the cable companies. Perhaps this is why CEO Tim Cook thinks Apple can do more in this space.

The Wall Street Journal shared more detail about Apple's rumored plans, which include several new features for Apple's existing set-top box. It would let users start a show at any time, including a few minutes after it has started airing, similar to what Time Warner Cable (TWC) does with its Start Over feature. The box would include an interface similar to the iPhone and iPad, but with more icons than the current Apple TV. This detail has been rumored for months.

Users would also be able to get the entire season of a show on demand while it's ongoing, as opposed to just the few episodes which are currently available. Sharing content would also be a major feature of the box. Users could share what they are watching on Twitter or Facebook (FB). Apple recently announced Facebook integration as part of iOS 6, Apple's mobile operating system. Twitter is already integrated into the mobile OS.

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