With the Apple TV 4K launching on Friday, people hoping to upgrade their desktop iTunes movie purchases to 4K may be disappointed -- Apple is only streaming video in that resolution, not offering downloads, according to an official support document.
"You can download a local copy of an HD movie, and you might be able to download HDR and Dolby Vision versions, but you can't download a 4K version," Apple says. The same webpage recommends at least 25 megabits per second of bandwidth for 4K streaming, and notes that falling below this may automatically switch users to 1080p or lower.
It's possible to stream locally-imported 4K video from one Mac to another via iTunes, AppleInsider can confirm, suggesting that Apple's decision isn't due to software limitations.
The situation could be a result of deals negotiated with most major Hollywood studios, which mean that people buying iTunes titles get 4K on the Apple TV at no extra cost. Limiting the extra resolution to streaming could be a way of deterring piracy, and/or keeping Blu-ray disc sales alive.
People have discovered a number of limitations in the run up to the Apple TV 4K launch. The set-top won't stream 4K YouTube videos, and is currently missing support for Dolby Atmos surround sound, though that should arrive later via a tvOS update.