(Pocket-lint) - The latest version of Apple's set-top box, the Apple TV 4K, was released over three years ago, so odds are a new Apple TV is coming soon.
For the purposes of this roundup, we're calling the next-generation Apple TV the "Apple TV 4K 2". However, given Apple has yet to confirm the existence of a new streaming media player (or that one is even in the works), the name could change if and when it does appear. Here's everything we've heard so far.
Apple TV 4K 2: Release date
- Sometime in 2021
- But in spring or autumn?
Apple is reportedly planning an upgraded set-top box for 2021. It will have a stronger gaming focus, an updated remote, and a new processor, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who noted those changes will fix "some" of the box’s issues, but the product will need more changes to remain competitive.
The Japanese site Nikkei also believes Apple will release a new Apple TV set-top box sometime in 2021.
If you're thinking it'll arrive in March 2021, that's a good guess, as Apple has held six special events in March over the last decade. But the company's last Apple TV refresh, the fifth-generation Apple TV 4K, debuted in September 2017. That year, Apple didn't hold a special event in the spring.
So, it's anyone's guess as to when the next model may launch in 2021.
Apple TV 4K 2: Design
- No new design; expect the same black box
- Dongle version once rumoured
There have yet to be any leaks to reveal the new Apple TV's design, and based on current reporting, there is nothing to suggest Apple will in fact overhaul the box's look, which hasn't been updated in a few years. Apple is known for sticking to the same design scheme for some product lines, too. Just look at the current MacBook range; aside from getting slimmer and lighter and adding a Touch Bar years ago, it hasn't seen a substantial design update in a decade.
In 2018, Apple was reportedly considering a lower-cost Apple TV dongle - much like the Amazon Fire Stick or Roku streaming stick. The Information said the device would be available at a lower price than the current Apple TV, and it'd plug into the back of a TV. But we've seen no further rumours about it.
Apple TV 4K 2: Features and specs
- Could run A12X Bionic, A12, or A14X chips
- New controller, possibly a gamepad, rumoured
- U1 chip for location tracking or base station expected
Leaker Jon Prosser, who has a so-so track record and often corroborates reports, claimed the next Apple TV will come with an A12X Bionic chip, but 9to5Mac has suggested it will use an A14 chip, the same chip used in the iPhone 12 lineup. Meanwhile, leaker Fudge, who has been accurate in the past, said Apple is working on multiple Apple TV set-top boxes: One has an A12 chip, and the other has an A14X chip and might offer console-like performance.
Apple is working on a new Apple TV with a refreshed remote control, according to Bloomberg. The controller was also spotted in iOS 14 code in early 2020. It's expected to feature a Find My iPhone-like feature for you to locate the remote when it's lost. Apple is also said to be working with developers to bring console-level games to the Apple TV, so a new set-top box with an updated controller that has a stronger focus on gaming could be on deck.
Leaker @Jioriku, who has been cited as reliable by many reports, claimed Apple is making its own game controller, and that the "Apple TV 6" running an A12X Bionic chipset is an "absolute powerhouse of a machine". It handles heat well, the leaker noted, but there are no design changes. Expect the same black box.
Apple's new Apple TV will reportedly include a U1 chip, according to leaker Jon Prosser. The Apple TV will work as an Ultra-Wideband base station for tracking location as you walk through your house with other U1-equipped devices. It will also use location-based information for media controls, brightness, volume, door locks, and more, integrating with HomeKit devices. The HomePod may even alert you if devices have been taken from your home while you're away.
Apple TV 4K 2: Pricing and availability
- No details leaked yet
- Current Apple TV 4K starts at $179/£179
There have been no leaks or reports so far regarding pricing and availability for the Apple TV 4K 2. But, for reference, the current Apple TV 4K starts at $179/£179 for the 32GB version and $199/£199 for the 64GB model, and it is available to buy in the US, UK, and several other countries.
Apple TV 4K 2: What's happened so far?
Here's everything we have heard so far about the next Apple TV:
22 December 2020: Apple is planning an upgraded box
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said Apple might launch a new set-top box in 2021 with a stronger gaming focus, an updated remote, and a new processor.
12 October 2020: The next Apple TV to double as UWB base station
According to leaker Jon Prosser, the next Apple TV will double as ultra-wideband (UWB) base stations capable of tracking the user’s location as they walk around the house. This is going to require Apple’s U1 chip for spatial awareness that will allegedly be built into the next Apple TV.
3 October 2020: Apple working on Apple TV models with A12 and A14 chips
A leaker who goes by @choco_bit on Twitter claims that Apple is developing multiple new Apple TV set-top boxes, with a model featuring a variant of the A12 chip and one with an "A14X-like" chip. Fudge also mentioned that a new controller is in the works.
1 September 2020: Apple preparing new Apple TV and controller
Apple is developing a new Apple TV with a faster processor and upgraded remote control, but Bloomberg believes it might not ship until 2021.
20 June 2020: Apple making a game controller for the new Apple TV
Leaker @Jioriku claimed Apple is making its own game controller for the "Apple TV 6".
7 May 2020: New Apple TV 4K with A12X chip is ready to ship
Leaker Jon Prosser, who so-so track record and often corroborates existing reports, said that an updated 4K Apple TV model is "ready to ship". It will feature an A12X chip and 64 or 128GB storage options. The new Apple TV 4K could "drop any time", but Prosser didn't provide a specific launch date.
10 March 2020: iOS 14 reveals new Apple TV remote
Leaked iOS 14 code obtained by 9to5Mac corroborated many details about what to expect from Apple, including that it is developing a new Apple TV remote.
6 February 2020: New Apple TV 4K hardware appears closer
9to5Mac discovered evidence deep in tvOS 13 code that Apple is working on a new Apple TV 4K box. The last model launched in September 2017.
21 November 2018: Apple considered new connected TV dongle
The Information claimed Apple has had internal discussions about introducing a low-priced streaming “dongle” that'd plug into the back of TV sets.