An upgraded Apple TV, a device similar to a set-top box…

Apple is finally getting serious about pushing into our living rooms. That ambition will be underlined at an Apple event in San Francisco on Wednesday, when the company plans to unveil an upgraded Apple TV, a device similar to a set-top box that brings video and music from the Internet to a television, according to people briefed on the product.

The upgrade, the first in three years, will expand Apple TV’s uses in gaming, including a redesigned remote control with a touch pad that can double as a game controller, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Importantly, the new device will include support for apps and games made by independent software developers. The revamped device will share the event spotlight with Apple’s biggest moneymaker, the iPhone.

First introduced in 2007, Apple’s set-top box has always been described as a “hobby project” for the company. Designed to provide consumers with access to movies, TV shows, sports, music, and more, the device has never been a top seller. Despite that fact, Apple has continually supported the Apple TV, introducing new versions on a regular basis.

The Apple TV announcement will come in tandem with the unveiling of a software development kit that will allow developers to bring apps to the set-top box, according to the report. Apple TV currently has apps, but those are automatically added to the device. The update would deliver an App Store to the Apple TV, similar to the App Store on iOS devices like the iPhone and the iPad.

The Apple TV box has been on a strange odyssey since its debut in 2007. The original device was designed to bring iTunes content to a customer’s television and was followed by subsequent versions that stripped away the need for on board storage and focused solely on streaming content to the television. An updated Apple TV device hasn’t appeared since 2012.

The Apple TV box currently offers access to iTunes content, as well as a host of apps, ranging from YouTube to HBO Go. Owners can also rent and buy movies and television shows from the device. The Apple TV device will also play host to HBO’s upcoming streaming-only service, called HBO Now, starting next month. It’ll initially be the only TV streaming device to support HBO Now, beating out competitors Roku and Google’s Chrome cast.

Apple’s growing focus on content deals, along with specific comments from Steve Jobs on the company’s interest in the television arena, has spurred countless rumors questioning the future of the device. Speculation has suggested that the Apple TV could be expanded into a gaming device, a cable box replacement, a full-blown television set, or a combination of all three.

Though the exact future of the Apple TV is still up in the air, it is clear that Apple has ambitious plans for both the device and its ultimate role in the television industry. As Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeated multiple times, television remains an area of “intense interest” for the company.

Apple has also held talks with several leading television groups to offer an Internet-based TV service for its iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, but the service will not be ready for an announcement next week, according to people briefed on the talks.

Apple also hinted at more serious television ambitions in 2013 when it hired a Hulu executive, Pete Distad, to work on Apple TV. At Hulu, Distad oversaw content distribution and subscription initiatives. Now the focus has expanded to more than TV content.

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