Apple TV is Apple's streaming device that accesses the Apple TV+ service ($4.99 per month), Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and countless other entertainment apps.
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 as well as lots of smart TV owners, and Apple TV+, the company’s video streaming service with exclusive original content.
Table of contents
- Third-party certified Apple TV Remote
- tvOS 15: what’s new to the Apple TV
- 2021 Apple TV 4K release
- Review Apple TV 4K (1st-gen)
- Apple TV app
- Apple TV+
- Read more
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.
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.
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.
tvOS 15.3 features
Different from tvOS 15.2, tvOS 15.3 doesn’t bring changes for the Apple TV, only small improvements and bug fixes.
tvOS 15.4 features
tvOS 15.4 bring some interesting features to the Apple TV hardware:
- Captive Wi-Fi network support;
- New “Up Next” queue that can be viewed from the “Now Playing” screen;
- Revamped Spatial Audio controls with tvOS 15.4;
- New non-binary, American Siri voice
tvOS 15.5 features
Different from other software updates, Apple doesn’t specify what’s changed with tvOS 15.5.
tvOS 15.6 features
Different from other software updates, Apple doesn’t specify what’s changed with tvOS 15.6, most likely just bug fixes.
Apple is currently testing tvOS 16.
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.
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+ 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 1,115 awards nominations and accolades, and 250 award wins from the Oscars, including Best Picture, Critics Choice Awards, Writers Guild Association, Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Peabody Awards, and more.
“Ted Lasso,” “CODA,” and “Wolfwalkers” are three of the most prized shows on the catalog.