Following 9to5Mac‘s iPhone X feature discoveries from the iOS 11 GM leak we received over the weekend, new tvOS 11 firmware appears to be out in the wild today with details about the new Apple TV. The new Apple TV has widely been expected to include 4K HDR video playback, and the firmware leak both corroborates that and explains how the new video quality will be handled.
As first mentioned on Twitter by developer Steve Troughton-Smith, the marketing name for the fifth-gen Apple TV — which is referred to as AppleTV6,2 — appears to be ‘Apple TV 4K’ to denote ultra high definition support. This marks the first time the Apple TV has received a modifier in the name. The Apple TV 4K name also suggests the current 1080p box will stick around presumably to maintain a lower price point.
Troughton-Smith also believes the Apple TV 4K will feature a “three-core A10 Fusion CPU and 3GB RAM” which will be a big jump from the A8 chip and 2GB RAM.
The leaked tvOS 11 firmware also includes new 4K assets for Apple’s apps including UHD images for the Top Shelf feature on Apple TV. A few of these images were first shared on Twitter by developer Guilherme Rambo and can be seen below:
Apple TV 4K is also widely expected to support HDR, or high dynamic range color, and the tvOS 11 firmware makes reference to this feature.
Code intended for the Settings app references ‘HDR Modes’ and explains that ‘Apple TV will choose the widest color range available. If you don’t see an option you expect, make sure Apple TV is plugged into a supported HDMI 2.0 port.’
The same code also references Dolby Vision with this description: ‘Get the best picture with better, brighter colors, We’ll make sure your HDMI cable is compatible before we turn on Dolby Vision.’
And although the website isn’t live yet, the code also refers to support.apple.com/appletv/HDR for more information on high dynamic range and Apple TV.
AirPlay 2 features for whole home audio and what is likely HomeKit support are also referenced throughout the tvOS 11 firmware, although we haven’t seen these promised features available on the current Apple TV since being unveiled at WWDC in June.
Finally, there’s evidence in the tvOS 11 firmware that we’ll see an updated Siri Remote bundled with the Apple TV 4K. The model version jumps from B239 to B429 and has its own firmware separate from the current Siri Remote, although it’s unclear if this means a desired design refresh or just an internal change.
This was my (total) guess on Friday about what could change:
The current Siri Remote is also backordered 2-3 weeks on Apple’s website which may suggest a new version is on the way. What might change? My shot-in-the-dark guess is the addition of a new button (that helps break the symmetry). The current Siri Remote features a Home button with a TV icon. This originally mapped to the Home screen of apps, but was later remapped to Apple’s TV app when it shipped (and everyone changes it back). Having dedicated buttons for both the Home screen and TV app seems plausible.
According to code discovered by Rambo, the new Siri Remote may include haptic feedback (possibly with 3D Touch support) as one possible change. Perhaps moving to a simulated button could enable a raise-to-click feature that could prevent accidental input.
That still leaves plenty of questions to be answered like how Apple will handle 4K HDR content on iTunes, which partners will support UHD at launch, and how developers will need to handle the upgrade.
We’ll be live from Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino tomorrow at 10 am PT/1 pm ET so stay tuned for all the announcements.