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Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K: What We Know About Cupertino's Next Set-Top Box

Connected Theater
September 11, 2017

Cupertino’s expected to unveil the Apple TV 4K on Tuesday, Sept. 12 alongside the new iPhone lineup, Apple Watch Series 3, and more. Here’s what we know about the new entertainment device.

Where We Are

Where We Are

Latest news: 

Developer Steve Troughton-Smith believes the Apple TV 4K will include an A10X Fusion chip and 3GB of RAM. He uncovered the information in previously leaked code.

Despite offering a number of great software updates (hello, TV app) since its arrival, the current Apple TV has struggled against its competitors.

In a comScore Connected Home survey released in April, the Apple TV now places fourth in market penetration in the United States behind Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast. A Parks Associates survey in August offered the same results.

The reasons for this are probably two-fold.

First, Apple TV remains the most expensive TV set-top box on the market. The entry-level 32GB Apple TV ($150), for example, is $20 more than the most expensive Roku player, $60 more than the current-generation Fire TV, and $80 more that the top-of-the-line Google Chromecast device.

This brings you to the No. 2 reason for Apple TV’s market share woes. Despite its premium price, the Apple TV lacks the most important feature found on other current generation set-top boxes: 4K-compatibility.

What another reason? Apple TV still doesn’t offer access to Amazon Video, which makes zero sense given that the service is available through iOS.

Where Things Should Be Headed

Where Things Should Be Headed

The fifth-generation Apple TV is largely expected to feature support for 4K and HDR content. Apple has also confirmed Amazon Video is coming sometime this year.

Beyond this, unfortunately, little remains known about the next Apple TV, although we can probably expect a hardware refresh. As I’ve opined twice in recent months, for Apple TV to get on track two things need to happen beyond the addition of 4K, including:

  • Design change, customization

An interface dominated by rows of app icons might continue to work on iPhone and iPad, but the same can’t be said for Apple TV. Despite some improvements (thank you, folders), the Apple TV interface remains a cluttered mess.

In 2017, Cupertino needs to rethink the Apple TV interface, making it easier for users to customize. Think background images that change depending on the time of day, and sections where our most-popular apps are easily accessible. And if app icons aren’t going away, shouldn’t they at least be a little bit smaller on the screen?

  • Entertainment vs. Gaming

Apple TV is both an entertainment and gaming device. However, not everyone who owns one uses it for both purposes. Perhaps two home screens are now necessary, one for entertainment, the other for gaming.

Here’s one more: Cupertino desperately needs to drop the price on the Apple TV. Anything above $100 for an entry-level model doesn’t make much sense anymore at this point.

The Biggest Wish

The Biggest Wish

While adding Amazon Video to Apple TV later this year is a step in the right direction, it would pale in comparison to Apple buying Netflix. Bringing the video streaming pioneer into the fold would be a game changer. Plus, making the Netflix experience on Apple TV unique would guarantee more of Cupertino’s devices would be sold.

Release Date

Release Date

We should see the fifth-generation Apple TV debut at Apple’s big event on Tuesday, Sept. 12. A release date should soon follow.

What do you want to see on the Apple TV 4K? Use the comments below to let us know.