Cupertino, we have a problem.
Anyone who recently purchased Apple’s fourth generation Apple TV may be in for a rude awakening. After waiting nearly three years to issue an update to its streaming set-top box, new reports suggest Apple may already have a replacement for its sparkling new streamer, and it could in mass production as little as three months after the fourth gen box hit the market.
According to Digitimes, sources from Apple’s Taiwanese supply chain say the fifth generation Apple TV could go into trial production as early as December, toting a more powerful CPU that will “dramatically improve the device’s hardware performance” while adding new functions that will make it more useful outside of the streaming realm — possibly as a cornerstone to Apple’s Homekit smart home system.
However, it’s unclear just how integral Apple’s streaming box will be to Homekit products in the future, as many Homekit devices are said to be designed to eventually work across multiple Apple products without the need for a hub. Forbes surmises the move could also be an attempt to make the new Apple TV more competitive with the next-gen gaming devices such as the Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4. A faster CPU would certainly seem to support that theory, though it’s not clear what other additions might be made.
Surprisingly, the one feature not addressed in this next-gen Apple TV rumor is 4K Ultra HD compatibility, which Apple needs to include if it wants to square off against competing devices from Roku and Amazon. Given the trend towards affordable 4K TVs and a buildup of 4K Ultra HD content for 2016, a lack of 4K support for Apple’s rumored follow-up seems tantamount to streaming suicide. Still, the report makes no mention of it.
4K or no, if rumors of the new device prove true, this move could be seen as a slap in the face to those who rushed to purchase the latest Apple TV, and an odd strategy for the always-calculating king of tech, especially considering it took the company three years to cough up a new device in the first place.
Of course, as these rumors often go, there’s no solid evidence suggesting we would see a new Apple TV so soon. For its part, Forbes estimates arrival as far out as next summer, which would push the turnover out to about a year — a much more typical life cycle for a streaming set-top box.
Digital Trends reached out to Apple for comment but had not heard back as of the time of publishing. As always, we’ll update this story as it develops.