If you count yourself among the Apple faithful, there’s a good chance you own an Apple TV or Apple TV 4K box. The only way to get TV shows or Movies through iTunes or mirror your iPhone or iPad on your TV has been through Apple’s spendy little black box. That is, until now. Ahead of CES 2019, Samsung has announced a partnership with Apple to offer AirPlay 2 and an iTunes app not only on the hot new 2019 TVs it’s about to announce, but also via a firmware update to eligible 2018 Samsung smart TVs.
For anyone still holding out hope that Apple would produce its own television, this should come as welcome news. Apple TV 4K boxes start at $180 and top out at $200. With iTunes and AirPlay 2 built into Samsung’s TVs, Apple fans who own 2018 or newer Samsung smart TVs can skip the additional box and cables needed to connect an Apple TV and stream anything in their iTunes library directly from the TV.
Another advantage to using a built-in iTunes app rather than a separate streaming box is that Samsung has control over its own hardware, allowing it to make 4K HDR streaming a more seamless experience while optimizing picture quality, all without any interference from Apple’s hardware.
One of our chief complaints about the Apple TV 4K box when it first arrived was that it would force HDR to be delivered to TVs by default, whether the TV was HDR-capable or not. Though Apple has since remedied that issue, there’s still an advantage to Samsung having control over how iTunes movies and TV shows are displayed. Samsung’s processing can determine how to handle low-light shading and peak brightness levels for an HDR experience it has worked very hard to develop.
In addition to iTunes access, Samsung smart TVs will support AirPlay 2, allowing iPhone and iPad owners to stream any content they want — videos, podcasts, music, and photos — directly to the TV without any cable connection.
This development is of considerable note considering everything that lives within Apple’s walled garden is closely guarded. The fact that Samsung has managed to broker such a deal with a company it considers an arch-rival (iPhone vs. Galaxy phones, anyone?) serves to prove that both companies see the partnership as mutually beneficial. If other manufacturers are unable to offer iTunes and AirPlay 2 in their smart TVs, this deal winds up being a real feather in Samsung’s cap. Regardless, this is a big win for Samsung TV owners.
Samsung’s 2019 TVs (which will come with greatly improved picture quality) will arrive sometime this spring — usually in late March to early April — and a firmware update for 2018 Samsung TVs is expected in the same timeframe. Samsung says the new Apple app will be offered to Samsung TV owners in over 100 countries, while AirPlay 2 support will be delivered in over 190 countries.