Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The New Apple TV 4K and New Siri Remote

After many years, Apple has updated the Apple TV 4K and the accompanying remote control. From the newsroom (U.S. link because none of the announcements from today, aside from podcast subscriptions, have Canadian press releases yet):

Apple today announced the next generation of Apple TV 4K, delivering high frame rate HDR with Dolby Vision and connecting customers to their favorite content with the highest quality. At the heart of the new Apple TV 4K is the A12 Bionic chip that provides a significant boost in graphics performance, video decoding, and audio processing. And with an all-new design, the Siri Remote makes it even easier to watch shows and movies on Apple TV with intuitive navigation controls. Together with tvOS — the most powerful TV operating system — Apple TV 4K works seamlessly with Apple devices and services to magically transform the living room in ways that everyone in the family will love.

[…]

Through an innovative color balance process, Apple TV works with iPhone and its advanced sensors to improve a television’s picture quality. Apple TV uses the light sensor in iPhone to compare the color balance to the industry-standard specifications used by cinematographers worldwide. Using this data, Apple TV automatically tailors its video output to deliver much more accurate colors and improved contrast — without customers ever having to adjust their television settings.

This is a fairly modest spec bump. The star of the show is the new Siri remote, which looks like a hybrid of the aluminum stick from several years ago and the iPhone 12. It still has few buttons and some touch-sensitive controls, but it appears to be less fiddly than the current version and is certainly easier to tell by feel which way is upright. It is also going to be shipping with the still-available Apple TV HD — but it is only $30 less than the $179 4K.

The colour balancing feature is not exclusive to this new model. It works with any Apple TV that supports tvOS 14.5 and any iPhone with a Face ID array. I will not be able to try it until the tvOS update is released next week, but I am curious about what changes it will make to my cheap and old television.

Notably absent in this Apple TV update is spatial audio. Perhaps it is the kind of thing that will need a camera capable of tracking multiple people.