For more than a year now, we have been following the rumors about the next generation Apple TV. And with Apple’s next big event, scheduled for Tuesday, April 20, we’re wondering again if this will finally be the time when Apple chooses to introduce its next special streaming device. This is something we’ve been thinking about, leading to every big Apple event in the last 12 months and change, and giving us a lot of time to think. So while we held our collective breath for a message that may or may not appear on Tuesday, I decided to write down my own wish list for what I would like to see in the next Apple TV.
Overdue upgrade to Apple TV Remote
It’s funny that perhaps one of the biggest complaints and desired improvements in the performance of Apple TV among consumers has nothing to do with the device itself. Instead, there is a palpable demand for a new and improved Apple TV remote control. The company has been holding on to the current design for a while and many believe it is time for some change. Key pain points include the touchpad interface, a symmetrical design that makes it harder to use without looking at it, and a slim form factor that sometimes makes even holding it a challenge.
What would I like to see? A more ergonomic shape would be nice ̵
There is a lot of room for improvement in this space, while maintaining the preserved design of the Apple brand. Whatever the sophisticated high-end specifications that come with a potential new Apple TV, we hope the included input device sees the much-needed improvement.
Built-in HDMI 2.1
Recent rumors also point to 120Hz support coming to tvOS. And while 120Hz (also often called 120 frames per second) has been around for a while, especially for gamers, it’s gaining new meaning of late thanks to the advent of a new standard: HDMI 2.1.
The included HDMI port on Apple TV 4K is a 2.0a option that offers support for 4K video at up to 60Hz or 60 frames per second. To reach 120, Apple will have to include the newer HDMI 2.1 port, which increases the bandwidth from 18Gbps from 2.0a to more stable 48Gbps. That’s more than enough for 120Hz support at 4K. In fact, the HDMI 2.1 standard itself supports 4K120 and even 8K60 – although the latter case may remain a bit rare in the near future.
Still, having 4K / 120Hz support on board could help the future of the new Apple TV, especially if the company uses this feature for, say, advanced gaming options. More on that later.
Much improved internal specifications
The 2017 Apple TV 4K still offers more than enough horsepower to serve as a high-end streaming device – so it may not seem so sensible or necessary to drastically upgrade the next-generation Apple TV hardware. Then it was again known that Apple packed powerful chips in devices that do not want exactly more energy. The 4K’s A10X Fusion SoC (chip system) is a variant of the chip that powers the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. And if Apple follows a similar model here, the next-generation Apple TV could carry a more powerful version of the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic.
There is a lot of speculation that Apple will unveil the new iPad Pros at the event on April 20 and they could be carrying a fictional A14 model inside. If so, it’s not so much to think that a new Apple TV can also pack similar hardware.
Of course, this is a way of much more power than a special streaming device is really needed, so it would make sense for the next-generation Apple TV to continue to expand into capabilities far beyond standard streaming entertainment.
Out-of-Stream Focus – Maybe Augmented Reality?
The potential for high-end connectivity in HDMI 2.1, combined with some significantly improved internal elements, opens the door for the next generation of high-end Apple TV to take on many tasks far beyond Netflix or HBO Max. We’ve seen the company dive into the world of fitness and gaming with its subscription services, and the next-generation Apple TV can be well positioned as a hub for both uses.
In particular, enhanced gaming capabilities can be useful as Apple’s own Arcade service continues to grow and develop. And earlier rumors have certainly explored the potential of a new Apple TV as a gaming console. Meanwhile, third parties have their own plans for games and Apple hardware. Despite some back and forth, Microsoft has recently tested its xCloud gaming service on Apple’s hardware, and the living room device will be a good home for the service.
Apart from all this, here we enter many levels of speculation, but there is also the potential for augmented reality or AR. We’ve already reported rumors of AR support coming to the company’s streaming service, Apple TV +. And augmented reality is expected to be one of the main topics of Tuesday’s event.
If Apple is really looking to introduce an Apple TV created in the future, adding some AR capabilities looks good in the realm of plausibility. In any case, we will have to wait at least until April 20 (and maybe more!) To find out if any of these forecasts have reached the goal.