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Apple plans to unveil its new version of a TV guide tomorrow during a product event in California.
This is the next-generation TV guide concept we first told you about back in August.
The idea is that Apple wants to make it easier to find and watch video content without requiring users to sift through a bunch of apps. Instead, Apple's guide will aggregate and show content that's available and then send users directly to that content via deep links. The feature is supposed to work on the Apple TV streaming box as well as on other iOS devices like iPhones.
Not all major video providers will be participating, however, according to industry sources. Netflix, which has worked closely with Apple in the past — and has been a Siri voice search partner for Apple TV — won't be part of the program, sources say.
While everyone with a compatible device will be able to use the new guide, Apple wants to tie it in with a new "single sign-on" feature that it announced this past summer at its Worldwide Developers Conference.
That service lets users sign in once with participating pay TV subscription credentials to access content in any apps that support the feature. (Users currently have to sign in separately for each app that requires the credentials — a clumsy task.) Ideally, customers whose pay TV providers have agreed to the single sign-on program would see content recommendations in the guide from apps that they specifically have access to.
This is an evolutionary, incremental step for Apple's TV ambitions and not what it wanted to do initially.
The company previously tried to create its own pay TV service — along the lines of what we've seen from Sling, Sony and the new service that AT&T's DirecTV announced yesterday — but has been unable to strike the deals to make its version of that service work. It had also talked to pay TV distributors like Time Warner Cable about operating as the front end for those companies' services.
Instead, for now, Apple has decided just to take the content that's already on these devices — major TV networks typically have iOS and Apple TV apps — and make it easier to find and use.
Apple declined to comment. USA Today previously reported some details of tomorrow's launch.
—By Peter Kafka, Recode.net.
CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.