Apple TV 6
A new Apple TV would come with the benefits of added memory and performance for those seeking more from their set-top box. The "Apple TV 6" would be a long-awaited update to the current Apple TV 4K model with new features and a possibly lower price point.
● TBA 2021
● tvOS 14
● 64GB and 128GB storage options
● Possible A14 or newer chipset
● Redesigned Siri Remote
● Possible model variants at different price points
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Apple does not update its Apple TV hardware very often, but chipset improvements and storage options would make an "Apple TV 6" a noticeable upgrade. The new Apple TV could see cheaper memory options and better gaming performance.
The core argument for the existence of Apple's set-top-box is performance, reliability, privacy, and unique feature sets. Some features have become available on other non-Apple platforms such as smart TVs and streaming boxes, but others remain unique to Apple TV.
If a new Apple TV is coming, the company will have to justify its existence through features or price. As it exists today, there is no sensible place in the market for Apple's aging platform at its current price point.
New "Apple TV 6" Hardware
When Apple debuted the Apple TV 4K in 2017, it included the A10X chipset, more internal storage, and a built-in App Store.
The new Apple TV would still be aimed at 4K content, so a performance update would likely focus on an improved gaming experience or other technical features. With Apple Arcade gaining new games periodically, it makes sense to offer a more console-equivalent chipset in the Apple TV set-top box.
Apple could include support for 120 Hz content like video games. The latest gaming consoles enable gameplay up to 120 Hz and require powerful processors to do so. The iPad Pro operates at 120 Hz as well, so having Apple Arcade games support the faster refresh rate isn't out of the question.
In late 2020, Apple launched its M1 chip on the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. While Apple has designed custom chipsets for mobile devices since the original iPhone in 2007, its first desktop chip demonstrated that the company can make silicon that performs magnitudes better on a Mac than Intel's chips with integrated graphics could. Given Apple Silicon's years of impressive mobile results and surprising early Mac success, and because a plugged-in set-top-box doesn't need to prioritize power efficiency, perhaps the next Apple TV will provide equally dramatic results in gaming.
Apple claimed that the A12X and A12Z in the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro, respectively, are as powerful as an Xbox One. While a higher-end gaming experience on the Apple TV is theoretically possible, Apple is unlikely to take on Microsoft and Sony head-on in the console world. For starters, video games are usually very large files. On iOS and iPadOS, they can be multiple gigabytes of data, and on dedicated consoles like a Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X, one launch game even surpasses 200GB. It is easy to see why 64GB max storage wouldn't cut it for those who are more serious about gaming on an Apple TV. Perhaps the Nintendo Switch would be a more realistic Apple TV gaming competitor, especially considering Apple's ability to run games on both mobile and TV-bound devices.
One rumor suggests that the new "Apple TV 6" would offer 64GB base storage with 128GB in a more expensive model. Other storage options are possible and even expandable storage could happen depending on Apple's approach to the platform updates.
Some speculate that Apple could release an Apple TV that is integrated into a soundbar-like device. It could have more sensors and even a camera to transform any TV into a media and communications center.
Apple announced its newest software at WWDC 2020 and tvOS 14 was part of that. It includes very few user-facing updates but reveals a multitasking and gaming focus that could hint at a future set-top-box.
Game Center will now change user profiles when users switch between their Apple TV profiles, which will allow individual users to track trophies, resume games, and see friend's profiles with no additional action.
Apple also expanded on picture-in-picture support which will let more apps have PiP mode enabled while browsing tvOS and other apps.
WWDC 2021 will undoubtedly announce tvOS 15 with more changes and refinements to the platform. Apple may release the "Apple TV 6" before or even during WWDC with new features alongside it.
There are certain features Apple could implement in software once the chipset has been upgraded. A U1 processor would enable more accurate spatial awareness for automation or even spatial audio on AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.
Faster processors would enable changes to HomeKit data processing. Secure Home Video feeds could increase from the current limit of 5 to give users more options. The addition of thread networking to the new Apple TV would also increase automation performance and HomeKit device networking across the home.
A "Kids Mode" would enable Apple TV owners to set up a profile specifically for children to use. The profile would include several restrictions affecting the types of content that would be viewable within the mode, such as preventing playback of mature content. Adults would also be able to limit apps that children will have access to within the mode.
Screen Time could be making an appearance in the operating system as well, with it affecting all account types and not just Kids Mode profiles. Under Screen Time, users would be able to see how much time children spent watching different types of content, as well as how long Apple Arcade games were played, which could help parents better control their child's viewing and usage habits.
Another new feature would allow users to find their lost Siri Remote using a voice command or built-in app. This would require Apple to implement the U1 chip in the new Siri Remote.
The improved processor could also enable spatial audio for the set-top box. The feature is currently limited to iOS and iPadOS devices, though it may be difficult to implement such a feature in a device that does not change position.
Rumors surrounding the new Apple TV have been few and far between, but an early May tweet from Jon Prosser gave us some insight into where the product may stand. He asserted that the Apple TV will have an A12X chipset and could release at any time in the near future.
"Apple TV 6" Pricing
The Apple TV 4K retails for $179 at 32GB and $199 for 64GB. An "Apple TV 6" may remain in those price points and move the Apple TV 4K into the $150 range or lower. Apple could surprise us and target a more competitive price point, however, and sell the new Apple TV for $150 or less.