Apple TVSteve Jobs may have died earlier this month, but more than his spirit lives on inside Apple — he’s said to have left the company with four years’ worth of new releases and product interations based around his ideas in the pipeline. Upon today’s release of an authorized biography by Walter Isaacson, speed-readers say the book contains evidence of what could be the CEO’s biggest project to date: Apple TV.

No, not just Apple TV, the company’s video-enabled, TV-ready network appliance launched in January 2007. The long-rumored next-generation Apple TV would be something bigger and grander — an Internet-connected flat-screen TV that would revolutionize TV- and movie-watching in the same way the iPod rocked the music industry.

Here’s the key Jobs quote from the bio:

I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.

PC World found an “Apple patent watcher” who believes what Jobs was referring to was a patent acquired by Apple in June that describes an “advanced widget paradigm” that adds interactive elements and links to your screen based on the content you’re currently watching. The story also suggests that Apple’s Siri voice-recognition technology for the iPhone 4S could be a killer app in the living room. (What if you just said, “Skip all of these commercials”?) CNet found an analyst who also believes Siri could take the place of a remote control for many tasks, and suggests that Jobs figured out a way to use consumers’ live TV-viewing habits as a way to tap a vast library of previously recorded content.

Of course, we’ve been hearing about “interactive television” for decades now, and the hype has mostly come to naught — it may be the 21st century, but you still have to pick up the phone to order a Snuggie. And some observers dismiss any attempt on Apple’s part to singlehandedly change the broadcast and cable ecosystem as pie-in-the-sky thinking.

Then again, it was almost exactly 10 years ago that Apple launched a new handheld digital-media device that it said would forever change the face of the music industry. Many observers, including some of the most tech-savvy Apple fans, snorted at the idea behind the iPod (check out the snark and sarcasm in the original MacRumors thread) and look how that turned out. Yes, TV will be a new adventure, but Apple’s broken this kind of walnut before. The real question, should Apple start making intelligent TV sets, is how well a newly Jobsless Apple can engineer that kind of paradigm shift.

Here’s the very first TV ad for the very first iPod. Remember when?