The fourth-generation Apple TV, set to be unveiled at an event on September 9th and released in October, will feature a mix of new and familiar hardware, according to reliable sources. While the new device will sport a much faster processor than the current Apple TV, a color-matched remote control, and a somewhat larger body, it will lack support for 4K video streaming and have the same basic ports as the third-generation model…
The current Apple TV design, first released in late 2010, has 8GB of internal storage for caching media, and the fourth-generation boxes in testing surprisingly range from 8GB to 16GB of storage. We are told that Apple has considered two pricing strategies: the simultaneous release of a $149 base model with 8GB of storage alongside a $199 16GB model, or the release of the 16GB Apple TV alone at $149. In either case, Apple will offer a $149 Apple TV.
While the new Apple TV will include an App Store for deep support for gaming, sources say that the limited storage offered by 8GB and 16GB flash memory is appropriate for the new model, as all content outside of applications will be streamed directly from the Internet. Additionally, the new Apple TV runs an iOS 9 core, and iOS 9 includes several new features for reducing the file size of App Store apps, including the ability to load games in level-sized chunks and stream rather than store videos within app binaries.
Sources indicate that the new Apple TV will be powered by the A8 chip found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, coming in behind the A9-based iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. In iPhones, the A8 is notably less powerful than the A8X chip found in the iPad Air 2, which includes an additional processing core and improved graphics. Still, the A8 is a substantial upgrade from the single-core A5 chip in the current Apple TV, and may have been tweaked for improved performance given the presence of guaranteed wall (rather than battery) power.
Besides touch support and motion control, we now know a bit more about the new remote control. Unlike the silver remote that comes with the current box, the new remote will be a dark gray/black color to better match the new box’s aesthetic. It will still be made of metal. Below the touchpad are a pair of tactile buttons (for Siri and the Home button), in addition to rocker buttons assumed to control volume levels.
We’ve also learned that the new box includes the same ports as the current Apple TV box: including a plug for power, a standard HDMI connector, and a small USB port for troubleshooting and connecting to iTunes on a Mac. We reported previously that the new Apple TV would look similar to the older model, but will be taller and thicker. We’re also told that Apple is omitting 4K support for content streaming, as BuzzFeed earlier reported, and AirPlay, despite the new iPhones being able to shoot video in that ultra high-resolution format.
Speaking of search, it sounds like one of the reasons behind making the new Apple TV software directly based on iOS 9 is for its new Proactive search support. In iOS 9, Proactive search brings new, more powerful and accurate system-wide search support. As Jeremy Horwitz also noted in March, one of the biggest omissions from the current Apple TV is system-wide search support. For example, a user cannot search for “James Bond” and see results across the iTunes Store, Netflix, the Crackle app, and the Apple Music library. Apple is said to be planning to fix that with the next-generation Apple TV software, but we are told that the company may wait to integrate the new search features until the Apple TV is populated with third-party applications.
Altogether, the new Apple TV will be the first major update to the device in a long time, including a revamped operating system, Siri support, App Store, gaming focus, and all-new touch-based remote. Stay tuned as we’ll have more details leading up to the September 9th event, where the new iPhones with Force Touch will also be announced.