Apple unveils its all-new Apple TV, here’s what you need to know

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Apple today officially announced its long anticipated revamped Apple TV set top box, marking one of the biggest jumps forward for a product category the company previously classified as a hobby project. Prior to today’s event we reported extensively on Apple’s development of the new Apple TV and the features it planned for the device and developers.

While proclaiming that “The future of TV is apps,” Tim Cook and team highlighted the key areas of the updated hardware and software: new powerful hardware, a modern OS, an all-new user experience, developer tools, and an App Store.

Head below for all the details…

Design:

The physical design of the new Apple TV doesn’t get a major overhaul like the rest of the experience with the new hardware looking very similar to the just-over-palm-sized square design of the current and previous generation Apple TVs. The same ports remain on the back of the device and the design appears to be slightly larger than the previous generation, which we noted in past reports is to accommodate new internal components for WiFi.

New remote controls:

IMG_2528

A new remote control. As we reported leading up to today’s event, the new Apple TV includes a brand new remote control bundled with the device that offers a revamped design from the previous generation Apple TV and new features. To go along with larger tactile buttons for navigating the Apple TV with Siri and returning to the device’s home screen, the remote includes a built-in mic necessary for recognizing the Siri commands and a touchpad for navigating the new user interface with touch screen-like gestures. It includes Bluetooth 4.0, volume control, an accelerometer and gyroscope, and it charges via a Lightning connector on the bottom. Apple also noted that users will be able to use the remote to control volume of their TV sets as well. 

Apple-TV-game-controller

Apple demoed new velocity-sensitive swiping through video with the new remote and had developers of casual game Crossy Road demo their upcoming Apple TV app using the remote’s touchpad to control it. Apple mentioned that iPhones and iPod touch can be used as controllers for games on the new Apple TV.  In addition to the new remotes, the new Apple TV includes full support for Bluetooth gaming controllers, something that Apple first introduced a couple years back for iOS devices through its MFi accessory licensing program

It’s still made out of an aluminum-like material like the previous model, but it now has a black finish to color match the Apple TV box.

New software experience:

appletvui2

The Apple TVs UI gets an overhaul as Apple introduces a beefed up operating system for the device that for the first time will give app developers open access to developing apps and games for the platform. The new UI isn’t unlike the previous user interface for the device, but it’s clearly been given an overhaul to fit in better with the latest versions of iOS 9 and OS X, as pictured above. The new UI also includes 3D effects on cover art and deep Siri integration:

appletvui1

One of the new Apple TV’s standout new features highlighted by Apple is the ability to search for content using Siri voice commands. Apple noted that initially users will be able to search across iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime, but that list will likely grow as developers build and update apps for the new Apple TV platform. Apple also demoed using Siri to recommend content, answer questions about currently playing content, and more directly from Apple TV. And Siri uses the device’s new remote control with a built-in mic (detailed above) to recognize the voice commands.

And lastly for software, following in line with its iOS and WatchOS branding for its iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch operating systems, the new Apple TV comes alongside a rebranded operating system for the device dubbed “tvOS”.

New Apps:

And to accompany the launch of the App Store on the new hardware, Apple announced a number of apps and games coming to the platform, including: Crossy Road, Disney Infinity, Guitar Hero, AirBNB, and Zillow. Apple also noted that developers will be able to create universal apps, meaning users will be able to download a single copy that works across iOS devices and the new Apple TV.

Specs:

IMG_2526

Specs for the new hardware include a more powerful 64-bit A8 chip as its processor (the chip Apple used for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and a less powerful version of the A8X it used in the iPad Air 2). That’s an upgrade over the previous generation Apple TV and will help to accommodate new gaming features Apple is offering with the new Apple TV software experience. The device also includes an IR receiver, 802.11ac WiFi with MIMO, and Bluetooth 4.0. 

Pricing and Availability:  

Apple TV starts at $149 for a 32GB model and goes up to $199 for a 64GB model. Both will become available in October when the third-generation Apple TV will stick around at $69. That should give developers a bit of time to start preparing their apps using the same APIs available to them for iOS apps.

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Comments

  1. srgmac - 7 years ago

    The remote is absolutely fabulous, but why couldn’t they make this into an iPhone app? The Apple Remote app is horrible; everything this remote can do can be made with software for an iPhone or iPod touch. No 4K is definitely a fail though; not unless they want to update this model in 6 months.

    • It’s easy to say that lack of 4K is a fail, but this is a streaming box. 4K streams are ridiculously large in size. Netflix says that 4K streams will eat 20 to 30 GB per hour. It doesn’t seem feasible at this point in time.

      • srgmac - 7 years ago

        There are already a ton of 4K streaming devices…people have been using them for months now…Not to mention the new iPhone has 4K video by default, and where better to airplay those videos to than your TV, using the ATV as the airplay device..

      • dp70737 - 6 years ago

        the post is from a long time ago but they do have a new app called “apple tv remote” and it has all the feature of the siri remote … while you can still use the older remote app it doesn’t have all the buttons and features like the siri button

    • gkbrown - 7 years ago

      Why would you want to use your phone as a remote? This new remote looks really easy to use and seems like it would be just as capable as anything you could do with an app (with the possible exception of typing, but even the older Apple TVs support Bluetooth keyboards).

      • Craig Gottschalk - 7 years ago

        I use my iPhone as my remote since I through to ATV remote in the garbage where it belonged….

      • Kyle Baity - 7 years ago

        So I have to buy two remotes to play multiplayer? Or can I not just use the device that my friend would bring with him naturally? So I have to put down my remote to get my phone out to deal with notifications to then pick back up my remote? Again, where is the simplicity in this?
        And no push notifications to my TV? Seriously?

      • Thomas Yoon - 7 years ago

        Everything they showed today mentioned that anyone with an iPod Touch or iPhone can jump in as second players. That, and the fact that you can use Bluetooth controllers from third parties makes it extremely compatible. From the

        By the way, we’ve really reached that day where people are complaining that they have to take their phone out of their pocket? Wow.

    • PMZanetti - 7 years ago

      Since no one gives a shit about 4k in the living room…you’re wrong.

      • Tom McCarthy - 7 years ago

        No one gives a shit about 4K in the living room? Isn’t that the main place people would use it? Streaming services are starting to jump on the 4K bandwagon, so it’s a definite miss by Apple by not having their set top box stream 4k. Netflix already allows 4K streaming through integrated Smart TV systems, so why can’t Apple have it on their $150 TV add-on?

      • 4K is not used by many people at the moment so it would be pointless to add it now instead of 1-2 years later. 4K TVs are extremely expensive. Not everywhere you can buy electronics (and much more) as cheap as in US.

    • Tony Bowens - 7 years ago

      4k TV still has very low market penetration. Hoping for 10% by 2016. It’s not driving people out to buy new TVs. They are just getting it when they buy new TVs.
      Plus Apple doesn’t have a content platform in place to deliver 4k content either.
      So not really a fail for this generation of product.

      • Edward Montgomery - 7 years ago

        It will have HDMI 1.4 that allows for the support of 4K resolution. At this point since they can update the export of video via software integration, its possible that at launch Apple will have the device outputting 1080p. Then once it becomes reasonable to push 4K, then they can release the software update at the later date.

  2. Michael Alexander Savich - 7 years ago

    How do you switch users in tvOS?

  3. Paul Douglas - 7 years ago

    They nailed it. Smart TV is a solved problem. This thing is MILES ahead of Roku, Xbox One, AndroidTV, FireTV LG webOS, Tizen…Everything. They absolutely kicked everyone else in the teeth.

    • Kyle Baity - 7 years ago

      Where did they beat Roku? (I think I have an idea, but I’m curious for your opinion)
      Where did they beat Xbone? Microsoft has confirmed universal search changes. Not seeing how they beat them.

      • Jake™ (@spinningblade) - 7 years ago

        They are not MILES ahead of the competition. They have finally CAUGHT UP to them. All of the universal search features they announced today, I have already been doing for the past year with my Xbox One.

      • Paul Douglas - 7 years ago

        Thinking about features and tit-for-tat is the wrong approach. It doesn’t work like that. It’s the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac all over again: They’ve beat them all because their interface is better. It doesn’t matter if superficially similar parts already exist. What matters is the whole thing and the fit & finish therein.

    • macnificentseven48 - 7 years ago

      Unless AppleTV supports PLEX then I don’t think they are miles ahead of Roku or FireTV from my viewpoint. AppleTV still doesn’t support the use of an external drive which I find very convenient to use for storing videos and music.

      • Paul Douglas - 7 years ago

        You have to think beyond the way you’re set up now. This is a before iPhone/after iPhone situation. Edge cases will exist at first, they always do. The functions are not the problem that needed solving, the functions were devised long ago. The interface is the problem. And they have nailed it.

      • iJonni - 7 years ago

        Opposite. PLEX needs to support Apple TV, which it will because its on every platform. As long as they develop a tvOS app, then they’re in. Just like they’re in the iOS app store. And by the way, the Roku app for Plex is garbage compared to what they have for webapp, Plex Home Theatre and iOS app.

      • iJonni - 7 years ago

        And the Plex app will support external NAS drives as it has for the last 8 years.

      • Brett Matthew Watson - 7 years ago

        PLEX are making an app for the new apple TV

    • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

      That’s either a crude bit of trolling, or you are simply clueless.

      The Roku has far more apps than the Apple TV. Perhaps that will change in time, let’s see.

      As for the Xbox One, it’s an odd comparison to make. One is a games console which can play console titles, has a full games controller, a blu-Ray drive, and a huge library of real games. The other is a streaming box with no standard controller, and a smattering of ports of garbage mobile games.

      Also amusing that Microsoft have had universal search in the Xbox for many years now.

      • Paul Douglas - 7 years ago

        No, I’m not clueless, I’m well versed in this subject area.The actual problem is simple: you just don’t get it. Their interface is better. Everything else is just noise.

        The comparison to Xbox One was in the XONE’s role as Microsoft’s living room platform. If you don’t recognise how central its entertainment functions are to its positioning, that again is your own problem, suggesting you are either yourself clueless or – more likely – simply being obtuse.

      • iJonni - 7 years ago

        95% of the apps on Roku are pure trash. I’ve added about 13, if that. The UI restrictions make them horrible. So much so that most low cost app developers for iOS will throw in a free Roku app just for using them. It takes them all of 10 minutes to plug in URLs to a crappy template because there’s only so much you can do. Netflix had to partner with Roku to get their nice UI on there, but no one else has…Hulu app? terrible. HBOgo? terrible. I’ve no idea how great this new aTV interface will be because i’ve only seen a video of it. But it looks to have a much better finish to it.

    • I don’t want to watch movies via iTunes. Sorry, so no, this is no solution for me ….

      When they release Kodi for the Apple TV, I might be interested

      • iJonni - 7 years ago

        WTF is Kodi? And again…its up to the developer, not Apple.

      • Brett Matthew Watson - 7 years ago

        There’s no reason KODI can’t make an app, PLEX will be and is similar to KODI

      • Paul Douglas - 7 years ago

        What part of “App Store” don’t you understand?

      • x111 - 7 years ago

        Seeing as the whole show obviously runs on iOS but is rebranded as tvOS it’s going to be interesting to see what happens.
        There’s no reason there wouldn’t be a version of Kodi or Plex, except for one little detail… Apple has made a LOT of deals with content publishers and I wouldn’t be surprised if that would make them block these apps from the App Store for tvOS.

  4. a couple of things…

    1. will the UI be available in Dark Mode…you know when watching a movie within a darkened room not need to BLIND folks.
    2. will the UI be available on older models? I understand not the gaming, etc. but a super-slimmed down version should be.

  5. Kyle Baity - 7 years ago

    So now our iPhones can shoot 4K video. What about iPad? Even more important: I want to see my videos on my Apple TV. Not possible in native resolution. Just looks like general oversights or rushing of products.

    • I thought it would be a hidden feature that a developer would find being able to do it…but the specs still say up to 1080p on the AppleTV page.
      I know 4k eats a lot of bandwidth, and even with 120mbps streaming our 1080 via AirPlay sucks

      • Paul Van Obberghen - 7 years ago

        But they could built it into the iPhone, didn’t they? Why not on the Apple TV that is far less power constrained? Incomprehensible…

    • Jake™ (@spinningblade) - 7 years ago

      It was a very deliverable decision not to include 4K on the Apple TV. They already increasing the price $50-$100 from the current Apple TV. Why would they spend more on 4K when most people own 1080p TV sets. Even though many people will be getting an iphone 6s and shoot 4K, they would not have been able to view it in 4K regardless of Apple TV’s resolution since they don’t own 4K TVs. Apple will definitely release a 4K model in the future when there are more customers and the manuacturing cost of adding 4K to the device will be cheaper. The biggest Apple TV announcement today was the addition of the much-anticpated App Store. 3rd party apps will do for the apple tv the same way they did for the iphone.

      • Kyle Baity - 7 years ago

        What better way to get 4K moving than have Apple support it? We’ve seen them be the pushers of new innovation for years. And how about two different models (4K and 1080p)?

      • proudinfidelusmc - 7 years ago

        @Kyle Baity, Apple hasn’t always been the pushers of new innovations. Lets just look at 4G LTE, they waited till there was wider coverage from the carriers, same thing with 3G. They also wait till those radio chips are more energy efficient. The first Android phones with 4G LTE had horrible battery life.

  6. Got pretty hyped about this, before i noticed they ditched the optical port… Not a chance I’m giving up my 5.1 surround for some apps + siri…

    • telemedted - 7 years ago

      Why would you have to give up your 5.1 surround when the specs say the new Apple TV supports Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1?

  7. Talkmactech - 7 years ago

    Does anyone have any idea if the apple 3 will also have new interface ?

    • Paul Douglas - 7 years ago

      Seems like no. It’s not getting the new software features, so a visual refresh is possible (though unconfirmed) but beyond that it seems to be sticking with the current OS.

  8. no apple music for the old apple tv. that’s very disappointing.

  9. Ideally, third-party apps like Plex would be able to hook into the search-with-Siri feature. But I doubt that that’s going to be allowed. Too bad.

  10. Paul Van Obberghen - 7 years ago

    Lack of 4K support is definitively bewildering, even more so because the iPhone is now shooting _and_ editing in 4K, and AirPlaying these to the Apple TV wont be possible, though it would only rely on a WiFi connection that can handle that kind of bandwidth easily. Those who will get the new iPhone 6S willing to display their work will have a hard time making it to a 4K TV set. They’ll have to rely on 3rd party solutions (that is, not Apple). Not to mention the content that IS already available for streaming from YouTube and NetFlix and where else that IS available on the Apple TV. The new 4K compression codec (h235 if I’am correct) request more bandwith, granted, but far far less than 4 times as 2K. Maybe a fraction above 1 time.
    And what about the gorgeous pictures taken by even the current iPhones (down to the 4S btw). For those with a 4K TV set, and there are more each day, they will be down-sampled to 2K then upscaled to 4K! Imagine that! What a mess! Same for movies.
    What a lost occasion! What a missed opportunity! What a let down! Utterly incomprehensible. As much so as 4K TV set have become as affordable as 2K TV set 5 years ago (not even) and because Apple is providing a 5K Retina iMac, and they have built their special clocking engine in the iPad Pro. Why not in the Apple TV?
    Hopefully, this is not an hardware issue, and the new Apple TV will be software upgradable in the futur. But I seriously doubt that. HDMI 1.4 is the standard for the new Apple TV (not even 1.4a, btw) which is current as of… 2009!!!. Though this is theoricaly capable of displaying 4K up to 30 fps.
    Also noticeable is the disappearance of the toslink optical sound connection – so all sound will have to go through HDMI – and the USB connection is now USB-C but this is only for support, so too bad about connecting a hard drive with all your medias on it. And the Apple TV remains a non iTunes server on its own so you’ll always have to rely on a Mac up on your network with iTunes on and Home sharing on.
    And absolutely zero mention about your Apple TV becoming a HomeKit hub. Zero!

  11. robzombiee - 7 years ago

    Why has the optical audio disappeared, and what is the purpose of the USB-c?

    • Paul Douglas - 7 years ago

      USB-C is there for diagnostics and support. Same purpose as the micro-USB port on the current model.

  12. telemedted - 7 years ago

    Why would you have to give up your 5.1 surround when the specs say the new Apple TV supports Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1?

  13. Paul Rosplock - 7 years ago

    I just bought the 3rd gen without the fancy remote would I be able to use on the one I just purchased..

  14. chopingman - 7 years ago

    No 4k upscaling or HDMI 2.0! It’s not clear if Siri will search my vast library of music, films and a TV served up by a dedicated Mac mini. Perhaps the next one will. I’m sticking with the bargain $69 one till their hardware catches up. Those already scale to 1080p. The only “app” I use is Neflix. I’ll be using the one on the 75″ Samsung as it serves up 4k.

    • chopingman - 7 years ago

      Oh, and did I mention the optical audio is gone!! I use that to feed Apple lossless audio to an outboard DAC that feeds a high end stereo system. I know I’m an edge case, 4k and other top end equipment. Trouble it the $69 one does everything I need better. All for less then the Apple pencil! :)

      • John Mckay - 7 years ago

        Optical doesn’t support 7.1 anyway; so I guess it’s just easier to use HDMI totally and be done with it. Most of us prefer the simplicity and cable management of HDMI anyway and it’s one less source choice to factor in when sitting down to watch/listen.

      • chopingman - 7 years ago

        Yes that’s a good point, but I also use my ATV3 to feed a DAC Magic that feeds a Stereo amp much like you’d use the AirPort Express. I can’t do that with the ATV4. :(

  15. Steve Drennan - 7 years ago

    It says it supports DD Plus 7.1 but what type of file format supports this audio type? Is it natively supported in an .M4V or .MP4 file or are they finally going to introduce support for other formats like .MKV? Any mention of DTS support? I was trying to find this info online but saw nothing specific enough.

  16. pretsky - 7 years ago

    I don’t see anything in this demo or on the internet about home sharing. Does anyone know anything about this?
    I have to say that I don’t understand, except for renting, why Apple pushes this streaming concept. According to Apple, YOU are responsible for downloading ALL of your iTunes purchases. Apple reserves the right to remove titles from their cloud service AT ANY TIME. If you rely on streaming you risk purchasing something and losing access to it.
    Home Sharing, I would assume, is the way many people interact with their Apple TV’s to view purchased content yet it wasn’t even shown in this demo.
    Let me know if you’ve read something.
    Thanks

    • Jacko (@Hickjack9) - 7 years ago

      I was curious about home sharing as well. I use Netflix and HBOgo with my AppleTV’s but the bulk of my watching is from my own iTunes Library. I am guessing they combined it into the Movies/iTunes icon? I didn’t see a Computer Icon. I love the new features of the AppleTV but I hope they fixed some of the most annoying basic interface problems with Home Sharing. Having to look thru your Movies/TV Shows stored in iTunes via a list is horrendous. I have been sending them feedback and hoping for an iTunes like cover view for years now.

  17. pearlmcp - 7 years ago

    Apple TV 32GB model and a 64GB model? excuse my ignorance but did the original Apple TV have storage? Is that what this is, storage?

    • PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

      No need to excuse yourself, this is a forum where we can all learn from each other.

      Yes, the storage is for there for apps. The first gen AppleTV also had local storage, though that wasn’t NAND but HDD. Initially sold as a 40GB in Sep 2009 and a 160GB model in Sep 2010. Its purpose was for syncing over stuff from your iTunes library, but the 2nd and 3rd gen favoured streaming from your device (OS X or iOS) and therefore lacked local storage.

      Looks like this 4th gen model has local storage for apps, not for syncing over movies or anything like that. But I could be wrong here; too many articles to read after the keynote.

      • velvetmidget - 7 years ago

        @philboogie or anyone

        How do 100Mb APPs eat up 32GB? What is the benefit of 64GB over 32GB? Won’t games eat up 64GB quickly?

        32GB for people who have a gaming console or don’t plan on using games?
        64GB for people who game on Apple TV?

        No one is covering the purpose for the storage or why you need 32GB vs. 64GB, any enlightenment would be appreciated.

  18. Overall I am pretty excited about the new apple TV. I think apps will be a big thing. Lack of 4k, eh, I didn’t really expect it, I don’t mind as I am a few years out from a 4k TV anyway. But my biggest concern – I have kids and I have quite a bit of local content that is accessed thru my current array of 3rd gen apple TV’s via Home Sharing (Computers tile). During the demo’s I didn’t even see this tile present the screen nor was it mentioned that Siri would search that content. I am really worried that Home Sharing is going away, similar to how is no longer part of IOS8. If that’s the case I am not sure I will upgrade to the new appleTV, as that’s about 80% of how my AppleTV and many of my friends use their devices.

  19. Brian Gentges - 7 years ago

    So if they got apple tv 4 supporting DD Plus 7.1, does this mean that the itunes movies could be getting the 7.1… later on in feature?

  20. Dave Leaf - 7 years ago

    Will I have to buy new apple TV boxes if I don’t need the gaming features? Will my old remote control work with the new UI?

  21. Pathy Iyer - 7 years ago

    Will the new apple tv recognize non-apple NAS drive like Wetern Digita MyCloud drive if both are on the same home router and be able to stream photos and videos? The earlier apple TV did not support. My buying decision for the new apple tv is based on this.

Author

Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.