Is Apple about to 'invent' Xbox Kinect? The latest Apple rumor comes from another abandoned Microsoft concept.

Apple TV and remote
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • An upcoming Apple TV may have a built-in camera for FaceTime.
  • Discussions at Apple are ongoing, so it's unclear if we'll ever see an Apple TV with a built-in camera.
  • Apple added support for FaceTime on Apple TV last year, but the app requires another compatible device, such as an iPhone.
  • Microsoft used to support video calls in the living room through Skype and Kinect, but the company has discontinued Skype for Xbox and Kinect.

Apple may release an Apple TV with a built-in camera in the future, according to a Bloomberg report. If that device does come out, it should connect with any user's iPhone or Apple Vision Pro. But we're Windows Central, so why should we care about a rumored Apple device? It's because Microsoft could have had this setup years ago if it hadn't abandoned its vision for the Xbox being the hub of a living room.

Apple added FaceTime support with the release of tvOS 17. Our colleague Daryl Baxter at iMore called the feature a "game changer." It seems other people agree with Baxter, considering Apple is looking into an Apple TV with a built-in camera. Releasing a device designed to be the center of a living room that emphasizes a camera is a natural evolution of FaceTime on Apple TV.

The frustrating history of Kinect

Xbox Kinect

The Xbox Kinect doesn't work on the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S. (Image credit: Future)

The Xbox One infamously launched with the Kinect camera, raising the console's price and hurting Microsoft in the console wars for years. But people weren't upset about the Kinect as a concept, at least for the most part. They didn't like Microsoft bundling it with the Xbox One, forcing purchasers of the console to have an accessory they may not want. Microsoft seemingly hasn't learned much from this saga, considering that it's forcing AI everywhere. But at least Copilot shipping with Windows 11 doesn't cost you money.

Despite pushback surrounding bundling, the Kinect was an excellent accessory on the Xbox One. It was essential for certain gaming experiences, allowed you to control your setup, and was useful for video calls. My dad bought an Xbox One S years ago to play games with me since I now live thousands of miles from my parents. We also used the Kinect and Skype to video call, allowing my wife and I in England and my mom and dad in the United States to feel more natural while talking.

But killing off the Kinect isn't the only part of the story here. A shift in strategy by Microsoft and software being discontinued is a major reason why we'll never have a FaceTime competitor on Xbox.

Where are the apps?

Skype on Xbox One

Microsoft stopped supporting Skype on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One last year. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Apple TV already supports Continuity camera, allowing you to use your iPhone's camera to make a FaceTime call on Apple TV. The latest rumor is about an upcoming Apple TV that potentially has a built-in camera, but the concept Apple presents and the features it already supports make me sad about Microsoft not getting there first.

Microsoft discontinued the Kinect camera with the rollout of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. You can still use the camera on older consoles to some extent, but Microsoft has shifted away from the idea of connecting a smart camera to your console. But my disappointment isn't about hardware; it's about software. You can use a webcam with an Xbox Series X|S; the issue is that Microsoft doesn't have a good FaceTime equivalent on Xbox.

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You can't even use Skype on an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S anymore. Microsoft discontinued Skype for Xbox last year. You can use apps through Edge, but that's not the same as the seamless experience Apple is providing or that Microsoft could enable. You may think that Microsoft Teams would fill the void, but that's not the case.

And before you say that Microsoft Teams and gaming don't mix, Microsoft Teams is already in the Xbox Game Bar on PC. The Teams Play Together widget, screen sharing, and other features in the Xbox Game Bar let you be social while gaming, all through Microsoft Teams. Microsoft could bring Teams to Xbox and deliver features similar to those seen in the Xbox Game Bar, but it hasn't. Maybe I'm the only one that wants Teams on Xbox. If that's the case, Microsoft is right to leave it unmade, but I'm still sad about it.

It just works

FaceTime on Apple TV with Continuity

Apple added FaceTime support for Apple TV in 2023 and may release an Apple TV with a built-in camera. (Image credit: Future)

I understand many of our readers like to pick on Apple, often for good reason. But troll tweets and jokes aside, Apple does make good products. The tech giant also maximizes the ecosystem that's formed when you use several Apple services and devices. AirDrop, AirPlay, Handoff, and iMessage are just some of the ways you can extend the Apple experience across devices.

Of course, Microsoft is a different company than Apple, and it uses a very different approach to connecting devices. Windows 11 runs on devices from many manufacturers, and Microsoft has its software and services for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and the web.

Generally speaking, Microsoft has a more open and cross-platform approach than Apple, but some integrations aren't as smooth. For example, Microsoft's Phone Link has some features that are exclusive to specific phones. Samsung and OnePlus partner with Microsoft to ensure certain features work and are available. 

FaceTime on Apple TV is a game-changing feature that looks like it will be expanded upon in the future. It's a shame that those in the Microsoft ecosystem won't have a similar option.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at

  • fdruid
    Let's be honest, it's hardly Microsoft's fault, people hated Kinect. It's people who made it fail, and as many forward thinking features Microsoft presented in consoles alone, people were adamantly rejecting them, without making too much sense at it.
    Kinect should have been bigger. Not as a game gimmick, though it could have been cool. As a device for interaction.
  • Cassius Clae
    Xbox fans are to blame for this, not Xbox
  • John McIlhinney
    Whatever else is true or not, it wouldn't be feasible to have continued Kinect simply for Skype calls. If Kinect wasn't going to be continued, they would have had to build webcam support into Xbox, either natively or via USB. It's a shame that it has come to this but I'm not sure it was really any great fault of Microsoft's. Users and developers showed no support for Kinect and, while it would have been possible to add webcam support to Xbox, I'm not sure it would or should have been considered worth prioritising over other things for the likely number of users.
  • Cmndr_Bytes
    I loved Kinect and used it most every day for play and exercise and combination thereof. It was amazing and had they continued with and developed it could have been big. I agree with other comments that too many ppl got all freaked out about it and their noise drowned out all of us who loved it and thought it was a fantastic future forward system. Microsoft should have pushed through.
  • MPetrozio
    Would be no Suprise. Apple already copied HoloLens.