Apple is testing a fifth-generation Apple TV capable of streaming in 4K/Ultra HD (UHD), according to a recent BloombergTechnology report. The news comes weeks after Apple hired away the executive who had been running Amazon’s Fire TV division.
In typical secretive fashion, Apple has not said when it will bring the updated device to market, which raises an obvious question: Why is it taking the world’s leading marketer so long to get its TV act together?
Not only has it been a year-and-a-half since Apple TV was last updated but Amazon, Roku , Nvidia, and Google are all selling 4K-capable devices. And it’s no wonder—sales of 4K TVs are exploding. Some 10 million 4K TVs were sold in the U.S. last year, which was a 40 percent increase over 2015.
In addition to supporting 4K resolution, the Bloomberg report said the new Apple TV will also be capable of “more vivid colors.” Does this mean it will support high dynamic range (HDR)? One would hope so if Apple plans to reassert itself as a leader and regain lost ground in the increasingly competitive arena for streaming devices.
The Bloomberg report offers an interesting look at the evolution of Apple TV:
The Apple TV’s history is a study in gradualism. Previewed by Steve Jobs in 2006, the first box was designed simply to stream iTunes video from a Mac to a TV set. The next version, launched in the fall of 2010, let users stream content from the internet. The latest box was announced in September 2015, a few months later than originally scheduled. Widely considered an improvement by consumers and product reviewers, the Apple TV features the App Store, voice control and a glass remote that enables motion-controlled gaming, which for example lets players use the remote like a steering wheel for a car-racing title.
But the latest Apple TV sells for $149, more than twice as much as its predecessor, $60 more than Amazon’s Fire TV and $20 more than the priciest Roku. What’s more, little about the viewing experience has changed. Apple TV users still have to buy an individual episode via the iTunes Store, pay extra for services like Hulu, or download an app tied to a particular channel and log in with an existing cable subscription.