The new Apple TV embodies a major upgrade to the Apple TV platform, what with its new operating system boasting true App Store support. It also features a redesigned remote with Siri integration and motion sensing. And while it looks pretty much the same as its predecessors, the fourth generation of Apple’s set-top box has a revamped port configuration, notably doing away with optical audio output while introducing a USB-C port.
Now, about that USB-C port. Only one other Apple device has a USB-C port, and that’s the 12-inch MacBook. In that device’s case, the USB-C port is used for both charging and syncing. But on the new Apple TV, it’s used for neither. Rather, it’s used for diagnostic purposes.
It’s for that reason that most users are unlikely to ever use it and hence Apple has deemed it unnecessary to include a USB-C cable with every purchase of the new Apple TV. In addition to the Apple TV unit itself, the Siri remote, and some documentation, a newly purchased box of the fourth-generation Apple TV comes with a power cord for powering the unit and a Lightning-to-USB cable for charging the remote — no USB-C cable. (A USB-C cable was in fact shipped by Apple with the original Apple TV developer kit, but it was no longer included in the succeeding round of shipments of Apple TV developer kits.)
The USB-C cable offers the only way for the new Apple TV to interface with a computer for things like taking screenshots of screen recordings from the device and, more important, restoring the device to factory settings via iTunes (in the event that over-the-air restore doesn’t work).
Most users will never need, or even want, to plug their Apple TV to their computers. But if you’re interested or you just want to be prepared, make sure you pick up a USB-C cable as well for your new Apple TV. We suggest getting something like this one from Amazon (qualifies for same-day shipping in many areas).
As for the new Apple TV itself, it’s available for in-store pick-up as well as shipping through Apple’s online store and the official Apple Store app. It costs $149 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model. (Not sure which model is the right one for you? Check out our article.)