Apple TV refresh rumors reignite: new UI designers hard at work?

Rumors about Apple's plans for Apple TV have reignited, with the NYTimes stepping into the fray with the tidbit that the Cupertino company has apparently recently hired "several user interface and graphics designers who have a background in broadcast design for television."  Meanwhile a second source – recently employed by Apple and working with their television group – claims the work is being done in a different design group within the company, though failed to indicate which one.  That could fit in with speculation earlier in the year that Apple is preparing an iOS-based Apple TV replacement.

Those rumors tipped a compact, iPhone 4 sized box that would have little more than power and HDMI connectivity, running the same operating system as found on Apple's iPhone and iPad, and connecting via WiFi.  Such a device would already have a head start running apps like NetFlix, ABC TV, Hulu and others.

Apple spokespeople have declined to comment on the report, and it's unclear exactly how much information is new and how much comes from the persistent and long-running rumors and speculation we've already heard.  Still, with an updated UI and a slicker OS the Apple TV could well hold its own against Google TV and maybe even win back support from those who have jumped to the latest, HDMI-equipped Mac mini.  Steve Jobs apparent dismissal of Blu-ray and confidence in internet downloads and streaming would certainly indicate that Apple are betting on network-connected STBs.