Apple TV Overview Updated December 28, 2021

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September 2010 - December 2021

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 and 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.

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 518 awards nominations and accolades, and 152 award wins from the Critics Choice Awards, Writers Guild Association, Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Peabody Awards, and more.

“Ted Lasso” and “Wolfwalkers” are two of the most prized shows on the catalog.

Read more

Apple TV Stories December 31, 2021

How to watch the new Peanuts New Year special ‘For Auld Lang Syne’

Apple TV+ today debuts its first original Peanuts holiday special, called ‘Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne’. Here’s how to watch.

Apple TV Stories December 30, 2021

After two years since its debut, Apple TV+ now offers more than 80 original shows. Are you watching Apple’s own video streaming? And, if so, how many have you watched so far?

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Apple TV Stories December 27, 2021

Apple TV+ is not as popular as some of its competitors, but Apple’s original shows and movies have been becoming recognized by major awards like the Golden Globe. This year, the Apple TV+ original series Foundation was even among the most pirated shows of 2021.

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Apple TV Stories December 24, 2021

Apple TV+ Guide: Here are all the Apple TV shows and movies 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 $4.99 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 22, 2021

Pixelmator Pro adds ability to directly export assets to Motion

Pixelmator Pro is squeezing in one last update before the new year. The image and graphics editing suite today brings Motion export capabilities, allowing users to create compositions inside of Pixelmator Pro and then import those easily into motion graphics for video.

Apple TV Stories December 16, 2021

How to watch the new movie ‘Swan Song’ on Apple TV+, starring Mahershala Ali

Today, Apple TV+ premiered its latest original feature film: ‘Swan Song’. The near-future sci-fi movie stars Mahershala Ali in the lead role, as a man with a terminal illness who gets the chance to extend his existence through a perfect clone of himself. Naomie Harris, Awkwafina, and Glenn Close rounds out the cast.

Sci-fi workplace thriller Severance coming to Apple TV+ on February 18

Adam Scott, Britt Lower, John Turturro, Christopher Walken and Patricia Arquette star in a new Apple TV+ series directed by Ben Stiller, called “Severance’. In the show, employees at Lumon Industries elect to change their brain memory system to isolate what goes on at home from what goes on at work.

Apple TV Stories December 15, 2021

Apple has announced a new documentary called “The Sound of 007” focused on the “remarkable history of six decades of James Bond music.” The documentary is slated to be released in October 2022 to mark 60 years of James Bond. “The Sound of 007” will be exclusive to Apple TV+ and comes on the heels of their success in the documentary category.

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Apple TV+ thriller ‘Suspicion’ airs February 4, starring Uma Thurman

Apple TV+ today announced that its upcoming thriller ‘Suspicion’ will debut on February 4, 2022 with its first two episodes. The remainder of the eight-part series will roll out weekly.

Apple TV Stories December 14, 2021

Apple adds nine new Scotland and Iceland aerials to Apple TV screensaver lineup

As part of the tvOS 15.2 release yesterday, Apple announced it was adding new Apple TV screensavers featuring aerial flythroughs of Iceland and Scotland.

Apple TV+ app rolling out to Sky Q boxes in Europe

As part of a deal announced earlier this year with parent company Comcast, Sky satellite TV customers will soon have access to the Apple TV+ app through their Sky Q set-top box.

Apple TV Stories December 13, 2021

Apple TV+ has ordered its first original Russian-language show. Container is another production from Apple that is not originally in English and follows other shows, such as Tehran and Dr. Brain.

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Apple releases trailer for season 3 of Servant, premieres January 21

Apple TV+ today released the season three trailer for its supernatural psychological thriller series Servant, written by Tony Basgallop and produced by M. Night Shyamalan. Watch the trailer below.

Apple TV Stories December 10, 2021

Another price hike is coming to DirecTV Stream, the live-streaming TV service formerly known as AT&T TV Now, formerly known as DirecTV Now. This time, AT&T is reportedly planning to increase prices across the board, including on grandfathered legacy plans, starting in January 2022.

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Apple TV Stories December 7, 2021

‘Schitt’s Creek’ producer adapting ‘The Big Door Prize’ novel as comedy series for Apple TV+ starring Chris O’Dowd

Variety reports that Chris O’Dowd, who portrayed Roy in The IT Crowd, will star in a new comedy series coming to Apple TV+. David West Read, who produced Schitt’s Creek, will serve as the showrunner.

Apple TV+ has officially signed on to produce and distribute a long in-the-works adaptation of the book ‘Bad Blood’, which dissects the fall of Theranos and its Steve Jobs-wannabe founder Elizabeth Holmes.

As reported by Deadline, Apple Original Films and Legendary Entertainment studios are co-producing the film, directed by Adam McKay and starring as Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes.

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Apple TV Stories December 5, 2021

Turn your Apple TV into a charming fireplace with Christmas music for the holidays

Apple TV screensavers are a fan favorite with views from space, the ocean, and everywhere in between, but there’s no built-in screensaver to turn your Apple TV into a fireplace yet. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

Apple TV Stories December 3, 2021

How to watch Mariah Carey’s new Christmas special

Mariah Carey is back for the second year running on Apple TV+, this time with a new special ‘The Magic Continues’. The first Magical Christmas Special also remains available for streaming. Here’s how to watch the new special.

Apple TV Stories December 1, 2021

Apple TV+ announces first project helmed by Alfonso Cuaron, a thriller starring Cate Blanchett

Apple TV+ today announced the first project hailing from its exclusive television development deal with esteemed filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron. The series is called ‘Disclaimer’, based on the book of the same name.

Apple TV Stories November 25, 2021

Apple typically sets Friday as its release date for Apple TV+ content. Following the tradition it has set in previous years, the service has released all new episodes and premieres for the week a day early, so people can stream them on Thanksgiving in the US (and just another Thursday around the world).

The brand new premiere this week is a new documentary film ‘Twas The Fight Before Christmas, which charts the insane lengths one man will go to to decorate his house and celebrate Christmas with his local community … much to the community’s dismay.

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Apple TV Stories November 24, 2021

Here’s how to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Apple TV+

After a partnership between Apple TV+ and Peanuts kicked off in 2019 with Snoopy in Space, Apple bought the rights to the beloved Peanuts Charlie Brown holiday specials. While they are exclusive to Apple TV+, there are limited broadcast dates on PBS. Read on for how to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas even if you don’t want to pay for Apple TV+.

Apple TV Stories November 16, 2021

It’s no secret at this point that Apple is becoming more interested in the sports segment, as the company has been investing and hiring related professionals to work in its TV division. 9to5Mac has now found evidence to support these rumors, including a new “SportsKit” framework for iOS and tvOS apps.

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Apple TV Stories November 11, 2021

How to watch The Shrink Next Door TV show

Apple today released its latest original series, The Shrink Next Door, streaming now on Apple TV+. The dark comedy drama limited series features Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd. Based on a true story, Rudd plays a psychiatrist who oversteps boundaries to exploit and manipulate his wealthy patient.

Apple TV Stories November 10, 2021

Apple TV+ officially launched just over two years ago, and while the catalog has grown considerably since then, the platform is still struggling to achieve significant market share. New data from JustWatch reveals that Apple TV+ registered small growth in the last quarter, while its competitor Disney+ has been getting stronger worldwide.

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