April 24, 2021 at 5:26 p.m.
- Apple unveiled a new Apple TV 4K model at its April 21, 2021 event.
- The new Apple TV 4K features an A12 Bionic processor, redesigned Siri Remote, and new technology supporting higher frame rates.
- Updated Apple TV 4K models go on sale in mid-May, with the 32GB model costing $179 and the 64GB model priced at $199.
Apple Launches Its Sixth Generation Apple TV in Mid May 2021
Apple unveiled its latest 4K Apple TV at a virtual event produced at its Cupertino campus. Although it’s the most significant change to Apple TV in years, the neglected TV device still uses older processors than its iPhone and iPad siblings. 2017 marked the last refresh of Apple’s 4K set-top box. The new 2021 model features the A12 Bionic chip, the same processor used in the 2018 iPhone XS and related models.
The new Apple TV, slated to be on store shelves and available online by mid-May 2021, is a modest improvement over its four-year-old predecessor. The extra bump in processing power gives it the ability to support higher frame rates, yet it still doesn’t realize 120 Hz refresh rates, which are standard on the newest, premium flat-screen TVs.
The ability to calibrate colors, contrast, brightness, and other settings using a phone app is alluring yet derivative. Apple TV 4K’s screen calibration feature uses the iPhone’s cameras and sensors to detect picture quality when placed directly on a flat-screen TV. The iPhone and Apple TV temporarily integrate, adjusting picture quality on the TV device such that your television produces the best image possible.
Although this feature seems sexy and innovative, Samsung offered it a few months ago. Its TV calibration app appears to be more comprehensive. Apple’s marketing doesn’t mention anything about ambient lighting. Samsung’s calibration uses smartphones of any brand to sense ambient light in a room and calibrate the screen accordingly. It works on both Android and iOS. The fact that Apple TV 4K requires an iPhone for its new, engaging feature makes it unappealing to the vast majority of consumers who own Android smartphones.
The new, redesigned Siri Remote is Apple TV 4K’s most exciting new addition. The fact that it’s almost all aluminum and free of glass means that users will no longer shatter their Apple TV remote. For the better part of a decade, the Siri Remote’s glass front face made it susceptible to breakage. One good drop and the remote can shatter, making it dangerous to use. Although I’ve never dropped mine in a way that it would crack, others have. At $80, replacing the remote is half the price of the Apple TV unit itself.
Although I like the Touch surface on the original Siri Remote, some users found it frustrating to use. My mom can’t get the hang of it, and others have complained about its unwieldy nature. Apple redesigned the control surface, making it both touchable and clickable. Although the previous remote could click, the new Siri Remote features distinct, clickable buttons. Overall, it brings the design in line with the iPhone, iPad Air, and new 24″ iMac, with its flat sides and rounded edges.
Worth Purchasing the New Apple TV 4K?
Most people already have everything Apple TV offers. If you have a smart TV and a game console, there’s no need to purchase an Apple TV unless you’re deeply vested in the ecosystem. Even then, many LG and Samsung TVs offer Apple TV+, in addition to Netflix, Hulu, and many other streaming providers.
If you own an older TV that’s not smart, Apple TV may be a good option, but there are less expensive offerings. Amazon, Google, Roku, and many others offer inexpensive “sticks” and TV boxes, bringing the top streaming services to your living room. All of these cost a fraction of Apple TV, and although they’re not as sophisticated, they provide the feature most people want — streaming video.
Apple TV is a jack of all trades and master of none. Unlike a free or inexpensive streaming “stick”, Apple TV can run sophisticated apps. You can play games on Apple TV, and some of them are pretty impressive. The problem is, Apple TV gaming isn’t as advanced as what Xbox and PlayStation can offer. tvOS games are just a subset of iOS games. You can already play pretty much every Apple TV game on your iPhone.
In terms of home automation, Apple is still woefully behind. The new Apple TV 4K improves support for smart gadgets by adopting Thread. Unfortunately, Apple is still behind Amazon and Google when it comes to home automation. The addition of Thread support is still no compelling reason to purchase an Apple TV 4K.
Apple TV market share is woefully low. At only 2%, it’s a wonder why Apple even bothers. Apple TV was Steve Jobs’ pet project, but there’s another reason why Apple keeps it in the lineup, despite astonishingly flat sales. Apple TV is the predecessor to Apple’s upcoming flat-screen television. TV is more important to Apple than the iPhone. Apple TV, the diminutive puck, is just a mere prototype for a forthcoming Apple-branded, flat-screen television.
Apple Developing a Flat-Screen Television
Sources exclusive to Appledystopia revealed that an upcoming flat-screen TV from Apple will launch in late 2022. Partnering with LG, the new 55″ and 65″ Apple-branded flat-screen TVs will sport a newly designed V1 processor and run an updated version of tvOS.
Although this is a rumor, the source is reliable, and the case for a flat-screen Apple TV is rational and reasonable. The company was working on a flat-screen TV but shelved the project back in 2013. Apple had no way to monetize television at that point. Apple TV+ didn’t exist. If they made a flat-screen TV, Netflix and others would reap the rewards. Apple needed all of its pieces in place to justify launching a flat-screen TV — Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple News, and, of course, tvOS.
A flat-screen Apple TV will bear a substantial price tag. It’s not something with a frequent upgrade cycle. Our source suggests that Apple flat-screen TVs will cost $1999 to $2499. Apple expects a decade-long upgrade cycle. They waited for both their and the industry’s technology to mature and stabilize before offering a flat-screen TV.
Apple’s pathetic TV device exists as a guinea pig for its upcoming flat-screen TV. No company would keep a product with such a paltry market share around for the sake of profit. tvOS had to mature, and this couldn’t happen in-house. Apple realized they needed a solid decade of testing a real-world TV appliance before producing a marketable flat-screen TV.
Much like the Apple Watch, its upcoming flat-screen TV will dominate the market. We may be laughing at Apple TV now, but Steve Jobs had a bigger vision. It looks like we’ll see his dream come to fruition in late 2022.