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New Apple TV box: What we know about the Apple TV 6

We were under the impression a new Apple TV box was coming in 2020, but it seems 2021 will see a refreshed streaming player arrive from the Cupertino company.

In true Apple style, they’ve not confirmed it’s even in development and despite the release of Apple Arcade, Apple TV+ and the latest big tvOS update, either launch would have seemed like a prime candidate for a new Apple TV box to emerge. The most recent leaks have concerned the remote, which sounds as if its getting new design features over the current one.

Rumours abound over an April product event but even that now seems unlikely given it’s been mooted online that new iPad Pro will be announced via a press release. An updated Apple TV box is on the horizon and it’s likely to arrive in 2021. Here’s what we know about it.

When will the new Apple TV box be released?

The Apple TV HD went on sale October 2015. The most recent Apple TV box launched in 2017 making it four years since we last saw a streaming player from the company.

Back in May 2020, Jon Prosser tweeted that a new Apple TV 4K with the codename Neptune T1125 was ready to ship but that turned out to be bunkum as a new player was a complete no-show. Bloomberg cited that “people familiar with the development” believed the device won’t ship until some time in early 2021. The window for ‘early’ 2021 is closing given we’re already past Easter. If an April announcement doesn’t happen then all eyes will turn to WWDC 21 in June.

How much will the new Apple TV 6 cost?

The 32GB and 64GB versions of the Apple TV 4K  sell for £179 and £199 for the 64GB version. Even the 32GB  4th-gen Apple TV HD is still on sale for £149.

For the Apple TV 6, it’s thought that a 64GB and 128GB version are in the works, and this would replace the existing 32GB/64GB configurations.

We reckon the price will remain the same at £179 and £199 given that there’s no real sense in Apple increasing the price and making it more expensive than its Amazon and Google competitors.

What does the new Apple TV 2021 look like?

One consistent feature about all the new Apple TV box is that its the physical design will remain the same.

That’s not to say it couldn’t use an update. The current box has a single HDMI 2.0 output and a move to HDMI 2.1 and eARC would enable it to output full-fat Atmos audio.

According to 9to5mac, a new remote is in the works. The current Siri voice remote is not much loved and not ideal for gaming, and what we’ve head about this steaming player is that it’s being positioned as a gaming device. According to Appleinsider, the new remote is being referred to internally as B519. This compares to current Siri remote, which has a designation of B439.

MacRumors uncovered some changes in the tvOS 14.5 beta, with all references of ‘Siri remote’ replaced with ‘Apple TV remote’. It may be nothing considering it has been referred to as the Apple TV remote in countries where there is no Siri compatibility. But it could also be Apple refashioning the name so it’s the same across all territories whenever the new box launches. Also mentioned by MacRumors was the remote will have a ‘Find My’ feature in case it gets lost in the home.

Steve Moser of MacRumors also released more potential evidence of a new remote in the tvOS 14.5 beta with the mention of a new “center button”, something the current remote does not have.

What features will the new Apple TV box 2021 have?

The current box packs a powerful A10X chipset, but info uncovered in iOS 13.4 suggests the new streamer will bump that up to A12 or A13 for better gaming performance.

An A12X would turn the Apple TV into a more powerful gaming platform. 9to5mac has reported that Apple is producing 64GB and 128GB versions to ensure there’s enough space to store games too.

The existing box supports the industry standard HDR10 as well as Dolby Vision. Considering the Apple TV+ streaming library heavily backs Dolby Vision, we’d imagine it’s unlikely that HDR10+ would be considered. We would like to think that HLG would be supported so viewers can watch BBC iPlayer in 4K HDR.

It’ll certainly feature at the very least tvOS 14.5. Code in the current tvOS 14.5 beta suggest that the new Apple streaming support could boast support for 120Hz video support. That would add to our feeling of the box getting a HDMI 2.1 update.

Other features that arrived in the tvOS 14 included access to HomeKit-enabled video cameras and accessories through Siri or Control Centre. If an owner has a smart home set-up they can receive doorbell notifications on the big screen, which will show live feeds of who is at the door.

Multi-user capabilities have expanded to include Apple Arcade, with instant resumption so players can pick up from where they left off. Gamers can switch between users through Control Centre, and that’s where info about game progress, Game Center achievements, leaderboards and friends are stored.

The Apple TV platform now has support for Xbox controllers in the Xbox Elite 2 and Adaptive controller. There’s also support for YouTube 4K, and Picture-in-Picture (PIP) support is available across the Apple TV system, supported by AirPlay, which can stream in 4K. When the new Apple TV box launches, you can look forward to enjoying all of these features and whatever else Apple has cooked up their sleeves.