Apple TV Overview Updated September 6, 2022

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September 2010 - December 2022

The Apple TV is Apple’s set-top box that runs tvOS. The company currently sells the updated Apple TV HD first introduced in 2015 and the 2021 second-generation Apple 4K models. Alongside the two products, Apple also has the Apple TV app, which is available for iOS and Android users as well as lots of smart TV owners, and Apple TV+, the company’s video streaming service with exclusive original content.

History

The first-generation Apple TV was unveiled in September 2006. The product, which would be called iTV, couldn’t have this name since the British terrestrial broadcast network ITV already held the right to the name in the UK and threatened to take legal action against Apple.

Shipped six months later, the first Apple TV had a 40GB HDD, and a 160GB HDD option was later released.

The second-generation Apple TV was announced in September of 2010 and was the first model to run on a variant of iOS. In a smaller, all-black case, it was one-quarter the size of the original Apple TV. The HDD was replaced by 8GB of internal flash storage, enough for buffering purposes. Also different from the first set-top box, this one was only used for streaming content. It also supported output up to 720p over HDMI only.

The third-generation Apple TV was released almost two years later in March 2012. It included the A5 chip and support for 1080p output. As of 2021, the third-generation set-top box still works with streaming services including Apple TV+, Apple TV Channels, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix.

The fourth generation, or the Apple TV HD, was the biggest revamp to the set-top box in years, and it launched in September 2015. With a brand-new black remote charged via Lightning cable, it introduced the tvOS operating system with an App Store allowing downloads of third-party apps for video, audio, games, and other content. This device includes the A8 processor and support for Dolby Digital Plus.

Two years later, in September of 2017, Apple introduced the fifth-generation Apple TV, or the Apple TV 4K, which supports 2160p output, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and includes the A10X Fusion processor. This model is similar to the fourth-generation model with the only difference being the addition of vents on the base and the removal of the USB-C port.

The sixth-generation Apple TV, or the second-generation Apple TV 4K, was introduced in April of 2021. With a similar design to its predecessor, the main change is the A12 chip and the second-generation Siri Remote.

Specs

Currently, Apple sells the fourth and sixth generation of its set-top box.

Apple TV HD (fourth-generation)

Launched in 2015, the Apple TV HD uses the A8 chip with 64-bit architecture. It supports videos up to 1080p and 60 fps. Only available in 32GB storage option, the set-top box uses the second-generation Siri Remote, featuring Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology, an IR transmitter, and a Lightning connector for charging.

These are its ports and interfaces: HDMI 1.4, 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, IR receiver, USB-C for service and support, built-in power supply.

The fourth-generation Apple TV runs the latest tvOS software, currently on iOS 15.

Apple TV 4K (sixth-generation)

Launched in 2021, the second-generation Apple TV 4K uses the A12 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture. It supports videos up to 2160p and 60 fps, HEVC Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Dolby Atmos technologies. Available in 32GB and 64GB storage options, the set-top box uses the second-generation Siri Remote featuring Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, an IR transmitter, and a Lightning connector for charging.

These are its ports and interfaces: HDMI 2.1ax, 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO; simultaneous dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, IR receiver, and Built-in power supply.

The sixth-generation Apple TV runs the latest tvOS software, currently on iOS 15.

Second-generation Siri Remote

Alongside the new Apple TV 4K, the company introduced a redesigned Siri Remote. It is made of aluminum and rubber buttons. It has a microphone for Siri, an IR transmitter, a Lightning connector for charging and uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology.

In an interview with Apple Vice President of Product Marketing for Home and Audio Tim Twerdahl, the new remote is inspired by the iPod click wheel:

“Once we came up with this circular design we thought it looked a lot like the iPod quick wheel, so what could do that could really help people with their TV using an interface like that? The scrubbing of the video came as such a natural thing, professional editors often use these jog-style controls, which are quite powerful, and it’s really nice to bring this into people’s living room.“

Although it was rumored, the second-generation Siri Remote doesn’t have a U1 chip to help users find the accessory when it gets lost on the couch. According to Tim Twerdahl, the thicker design of the remote chassis means it won’t get lost in couch cushions as much as the previous generation

You can learn more about the second-generation Siri Remote here.

Third-party certified Apple TV Remote

In August of 2021, Deutsche Telekom started offering a third-party certified Apple TV Remote. This is the first company to offer Universal Electronics’ remote control to customers who purchase a new Apple TV 4K directly with the carrier with a Magenta TV subscription.

The alternative Siri Remote from Universal Electronics looks more like a classic TV remote control since it does not have a trackpad and comes with buttons for switching channels and accessing the TV guide. However, it also includes all the buttons needed to navigate through tvOS, including the Siri button and even a built-in microphone.

tvOS 15: what’s new to the Apple TV

Apple released on September 20 tvOS 15, the operating system to the Apple TV HD and 4K (1st and 2nd gen). Here’s everything new with it:

  • For All of You: Browse a new row in the Apple TV app to find something that everyone in the house can’t wait to watch.
  • Shared with You: Movies and shows shared through Messages appear in a new row in the Apple TV app.
  • Spatial Audio: Listen with AirPods Pro or AirPods Max for a theater-like experience with sound that surrounds you.
  • Smart AirPods routing: Get an automatic onscreen notification to magically connect your AirPods.
  • HomeKit camera enhancements: View multiple cameras around the house at the same time on your Apple TV.
  • Room-filling stereo sound: Pair two HomePod mini speakers with Apple TV 4K and enjoy rich, balanced sound for everything you watch.

You can learn more about tvOS 15 here.

tvOS 15.1 features

tvOS 15.1 brings the long-awaited SharePlay feature. With it, you can watch movies, shows, or listen to songs while on a FaceTime call on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with friends.

tvOS 15.2 features

A month after launching tvOS 15.1, Apple seeded tvOS 15.2. This software brings a new way to view your Memories. Apple Music subscribers can hear songs that combine expert recommendations with your music tastes, and what’s in your photos and videos.

Here is what else is new:

  • Apple TV app: The Store tab is a new all-in-one destination to browse, buy, and rent the world’s best movies and TV shows.
  • Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri.
  • Siri now includes language support for Dutch and French in Belgium, Russian in Russia, and French, German, and Italian in Switzerland.
  • Screen savers: Enjoy stunning views of Iceland and Scotland. Location details can be found by pressing the clickpad or tapping the Touch surface on your Siri Remote.

tvOS 15.3 features

Different from tvOS 15.2, tvOS 15.3 doesn’t bring changes for the Apple TV, only small improvements and bug fixes.

tvOS 15.4 Apple TV

tvOS 15.4 features

tvOS 15.4 bring some interesting features to the Apple TV hardware:

  • Captive Wi-Fi network support;
  • New “Up Next” queue that can be viewed from the “Now Playing” screen;
  • Revamped Spatial Audio controls with tvOS 15.4;
  • New non-binary, American Siri voice

tvOS 15.5 features

Different from other software updates, Apple doesn’t specify what’s changed with tvOS 15.5.

tvOS 15.6 features

Different from other software updates, Apple doesn’t specify what’s changed with tvOS 15.6, most likely just bug fixes.

Apple is currently testing tvOS 16.

Pricing

The Apple TV pricing starts at $149 on the HD model and goes up to $199 on the 4K model with 64GB of storage.

  • 32GB, HD model: $149
  • 32GB, 4K model: $179
  • 64GB, 4K model: $199

Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.

2021 Apple TV 4K release

The new set-top box launched on May 21. Pre-orders started on April 30.

Review Apple TV 4K (1st-gen)

In our opinion article about the previous Apple TV, is its simplicity that people love the most:

The Apple TV is the true TV hub for the streaming era, especially for Apple fans. In many ways, it’s the simplicity of the Apple TV, with an ad-free experience and a range of 4K HDR content, via iTunes Store that makes people still own this product after all this time.

Deals

Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the Apple TV and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.

Apple TV app

The Apple TV app holds Apple Original shows and movies from Apple TV+. It also includes the Apple TV Channels, with over 30 streaming services ready to be subscribed to within the app.

With personalized and curated content, it’s easier to discover new shows. You can also search for your library while also being able to buy or rent content from the iTunes Store.

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ launched on November 1, 2019. It features Apple’s original TV shows and movies. Here’s what’s on Apple TV+.

At its 2019 September iPhone event, Apple officially announced launch details for its premium TV service: $4.99 per month for a family subscription. Customers who purchase an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, or Mac can enjoy one year of the service for free.

Since the Apple TV+ debut, Apple has received a total of 1,115 awards nominations and accolades, and 250 award wins from the Oscars, including Best Picture, Critics Choice Awards, Writers Guild Association, Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Peabody Awards, and more.

“Ted Lasso,” “CODA,” and “Wolfwalkers” are three of the most prized shows on the catalog.

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Apple TV Stories Today

How to watch Will Smith’s new movie Emancipation on Apple TV+

Will Smith stars in Emancipation, now streaming on Apple TV+. Smith plays a slave who undertakes a dangerous and gruelling escape from captivity, who was later photographed and became the face of the growing emancipation movement. Here’s how to watch the new film.

Apple TV Stories December 2

Apple TV+ today released a trailer for its upcoming content slate of original TV shows and movies for 2023. The sizzle reel includes teases of a bunch of new shows, including highly anticipated premieres like the drama miniseries “Masters of the Air,” a sequel to the acclaimed war dramas, “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific.”

It also teased the third season of “Ted Lasso,” the sci-fi series “Wool,” Billy Crudup’s comedy “Hello Tomorrow,” and the Ridley Scott-directed feature “Napoleon,” among others.

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Apple TV+ Guide: Every Apple TV show and movie available now

Apple TV+ offers exclusive Apple original TV shows and movies in 4K HDR quality. You can watch across all of your screens and pick up where you left off on any device. Apple TV+ costs $6.99 per month. Here’s every Apple original television show and movie available now on Apple TV+, as well as the latest trailers …

Apple TV Stories December 1

Slow Horses season two premieres on Apple TV+

The spy thriller TV show Slow Horses returns for season today, beginning today on Apple TV+. The show stars Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb, a veteran MI5 agent in charge of a department of reject underlyings that have a reputation for failure inside the organization. The series is based off the popular novels by Mick Herron.

Apple TV Stories November 28

Apple has been investing a lot in sports recently, and it seems that the company wants to take it even further. After confirming the launch of MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app for next year, the company is now reportedly considering acquiring the broadcast rights to Dutch soccer league Eredivisie.

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Apple TV Stories November 24

Some Apple TV 4K users have been experiencing issues when using the HBO Max app. More specifically, the app shows a “can’t play title” error when trying to stream content. Although the bug has yet to be fixed, HBO has confirmed that it is already working on an update that should be released very soon.

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Apple TV Stories November 23

Although NFL commissioner Roger Goodell originally said they expected to close a deal for the prestigious Sunday Ticket package by the fall of this year, the latest reports indicate that talks have slowed. Apple TV is known to be very interested in acquiring Sunday Ticket rights, joining its existing streaming sports lineup including Major League Soccer and MLB Friday Night Baseball.

The latest update on the state of affairs comes from the New York Times. The paper says that negotiations are now likely to drag into next year. Despite some earlier reports claiming the opposite, Apple is yet to finalize a deal, and Google (YouTube) has emerged as a strong contender.

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When Apple introduced Apple TV+, the company promoted it as a streaming platform focused on original movies and TV shows. However, Apple now seems to be shifting its strategy with Apple TV+, as the platform now has a back catalog for the first time.

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Apple TV+ is the exclusive streaming home of Peantus and Charlie Brown, including classic specials and new originals.

For the holidays, Apple TV+ is streaming A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving free for a limited time. In the last two years, Apple partnered with PBS to broadcast the Peanuts holiday specials on free-to-air TV. However, this year, they are streaming only.

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Apple TV Stories November 22

Apple could be one of the first to transform the story of the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried and his FTX crypto company into a feature film. Deadline reports that Apple is in the lead for a deal to turn an upcoming book from Michael Lewis into a film, but the company is facing intense competition from Netflix and Amazon.

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Apple TV Stories November 21

It’s hardly a secret that Apple is negotiating with the National Football League for streaming rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. What seems impossible to know yet is if Apple will actually replace DirecTV as the new home of the valuable pro football package.

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Apple TV Stories November 18

Principal photography filming has finally concluded on Ted Lasso season three. The highly-anticipated third season, which may also be its last, is expected to premiere in the spring, although an official release date has not yet been announced by Apple TV+.

The comedy remains Apple TV+’s biggest hit to date, popular with audiences and critics alike. You can watch the first two seasons here.

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How to watch Spirited, the new Christmas movie on Apple TV+

This week, Apple TV+ premieres its new big-budget movie for the holidays, Spirited starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell. Spirited is a modern musical twist on the classic Dickens’ A Christmas Carol story. Here’s how to watch.

Apple TV Stories November 16

Apple and Major League Soccer today announced pricing and availability details for the MLS streaming service, available through the Apple TV app beginning February 1, 2023 ready for the season start on February 25.

Named “MLS Season Pass,” the subscription unlocks access to all MLS games, live and on demand. The service is priced at $14.99 per month, or $99 per season. Apple TV+ subscribers will be able to watch some games at no cost, and can get the full MLS Season Pass at a discounted rate …

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Apple TV+ shares official trailer for upcoming movie ‘Emancipation,’ starring Will Smith

Apple TV+ has today released the official trailer for its major December movie, Emancipation. The film stars Will Smith and was set to be a big awards contender this year, although Smith’s Oscars slap have soured its chances somewhat. Despite the controversy, Apple is clearly confident that the film will be a hit with audiences — having chosen not to push back its release date.

Apple TV Stories November 8

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting exclusive on how Netflix has been trying to score some points in the wide world of streaming sports, not unlike Apple. So far, we’ve seen Apple stream a full Major League Baseball season of Friday night games, and the company bought a decade of streaming soccer rights, which starts next year. Plus, Apple TV+ already competes with the former DVD rental service on original shows and movies.

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Apple TV Stories November 4

Back in June, Apple announced a deal with Major League Soccer to stream all games exclusively via the Apple TV application. While we’re still waiting for more official details on this partnership, a new report from Bloomberg indicates that Apple is “building an advertising network for live television” as part of the MLS deal.

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Apple is trying a new strategy to promote its latest original movie premiering on Apple TV+ today. For a limited time, subscribers can stream a Jennifer Lawrence film from 2012 as an “Apple TV+ bonus” starting today, alongside the complete collection of The Hunger Games films. The move is meant to promote the new Causeway movie on Apple TV+.

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Following its official announcement last month, the new Apple TV 4K is now available for purchase in Apple Stores and from third-party retailers. Additionally, the first pre-orders are also now arriving to buyers. Some early shortages and delays, however, appear to be causing issues for some hopeful Apple TV 4K customers…

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Apple TV Stories November 3

How to watch the Selena Gomez documentary

Today, Selena Gomez releases her new documentary My Mind and Me, streaming exclusively on Apple TV+. The 90-minute film is directed by Alek Keshishian, exploring Gomez’s battles with physical and mental wellness. Here’s how to watch.

Jennifer Lawrence stars in new movie Causeway, now streaming on Apple TV+

Apple TV+ today launches its new movie Causeway, from Apple Studios and A24. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as a soldier, Lynsey, who has returned from Afghanistan. At home in New Orleans, She bonds with James (played by Brian Tyree Henry). Both are trying to suppress their own traumas, and move forward.

The Apple TV app is taking a page out of the playbook of other streaming services and pushing “Featured” content over the more useful “Up Next” aggregation. With a change rolling out starting today, the first thing you’ll see when you open the TV app is a dedicated row for “Featured” content…

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Apple TV Stories November 2

Earlier this year, Apple TV+ announced the release of the new documentary film “My Mind & Me,” featuring popular actress and singer Selena Gomez. As the documentary will be available for streaming starting November 4, the company is now promoting the film’s premiere with a two-month Apple TV+ subscription for free.

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The first reviews of the new Apple TV 4K were published this morning with an overwhelmingly positive consensus. One interesting tidbit revealed in these reviews is that the Apple TV 4K has another trick up its sleeve coming with a future software update: better support for variable refresh rates.

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