Apple has officially announced the next-gen Apple TV and, as expected, it supports 4K Ultra HD and high dynamic range (HDR), including Dolby Vision HDR. In fact, the 4K resolution support is built right into the name: Apple TV 4K.
The streaming set-top box will run on Apple’s A10X Fusion chip, the same processor found in the iPad Pro, and run on the latest version of tvOS. With this introduction, Apple joins the ranks of competing streaming set-top boxes from Roku and Amazon, which have offered 4K HDR support for a few years now. The new Apple TV 4K will start at $179 for the 32GB version, and $199 for the 64GB upgrade. Both models will be available for order September 15, with shipments beginning September 22.
The addition of 4K HDR support is underscored by the availability of 4K HDR content on the new Apple TV 4K. Apple says it has been working with top studios to make the biggest movies and TV shows available in 4K HDR at iTunes, and that 4K HDR content will cost the same as HD. Additionally, Apple says that anyone who has purchased a title in HD on iTunes will be upgraded to 4K HDR for free. Apple also pointed to the availability of Amazon Prime Video and Netflix content in 4K HDR coming soon.
In addition to 4K HDR content availability, Apple has retooled its user interface to run in 4K. The Apple TV 4K will also sport 4K HDR screensavers. In addition, Apple’s press release claims the new device will always output the highest resolution possible, including “automatic detection” of your 4K TV’s capabilities, and a high-performance video scaler for lower-resolution content.
HomeKit and other perks
Apple touted a few other Apple-specific perks, such as the Watch Now feature which serves up personalized live news and sports feeds, as well as a separate Sports Tab which places your favorite teams and players front and center in real time as all accessible games and matches commence. The new Apple TV 4K also has the ability to share live photo effects and 4K video memories via AirPlay from iPhones and iPads. Naturally, the Apple TV 4K will also support Apple HomeKit. Siri will remain available for voice-assisted search and HomeKit integration commands.
To wrap its Apple TV 4K announcement, Apple appealed to gamers. Just as the Amazon Fire TV accesses a broad selection of Android OS games, a wealth of games optimized for iPhone and iPad will be available on the Apple TV 4K. It now appears that Apple TV 4K will support third-party gaming controllers, among other accessories such as Beats Headphones and Apple AirPods. The device will also be upgradable with Airplay 2 later this year, according to Apple, to control multiple Airplay 2-supported speakers.
What could be next
The announcement didn’t contain many surprises, as much of the details surround the new Apple TV 4K were leaked ahead of the September 12 event. However, there are indications future versions could be forthcoming.
Ahead of today’s product launch, Patently Apple discovered a patent filed by the company pertaining to the use of biometric sensors in a handheld remote. While the posted diagram (seen below) depicts the sensor as “a single control element” on a remote pointed at a TV, Apple actually specified that these visual representations are examples only, and that the patent covers “any remote control device that is capable of transmitting instructions to [an] electronic device.”
This means we could potentially see a fingerprint scanner included on the future Apple TV 4K remotes, which is also capable of controlling the Apple HomeKit. Since HomeKit acts as a hub to control compatible smart home devices, you could theoretically use a remote with such a scanner to control those devices as well. Including a fingerprint scanner adds another level of security for better, safer home control.
Update: We’ve updated this article to include official product information disclosed at Apple’s September 12 launch event.