It’s been a long and sometimes difficult journey for the Apple TV. Deemed a “hobby” project by Steve Jobs, the company appeared to put the concept of an Apple set-top box on the back burner for many years before it once again started taking the line seriously in 2015.
Last year’s 4K-enabled Apple TV finally saw the streamer meet the promise it’s always held, with super-high resolution playback, some enjoyable gaming options and decent voice control.
But we still want more. Here’s what we’re hoping to see from any eventual new Apple TV device.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A new version of Apple’s set-top box
- When is it out? We’d expect an announcement in September 2019
- What will it cost? Hopefully around the price of previous models
Apple TV 6 (2018) release date
As ever with unannounced Apple products, outside the annual iPhone release, it’s hard to know when, if ever, a new product will hit stores. But we can make educated guesses based on previous models’ release dates.
The fifth generation 4K-capable Apple TV model was revealed on September 12, 2017, almost two years to the day that the 4th generation Apple TV was announced.
By that reckoning, a September 2019 reveal is most likely, giving time for TV technology to progress enough for Apple to have something new to discuss.
In terms of the soonest possible reveal, that would be at WWDC 2018, taking place in early June. But we wouldn’t hold our breath for that – it seems far too early for Apple to refresh this line.
Apple TV 6 (2018) price
Of course, without a confirmed spec sheet, it’s difficult to speculate on cost.
But as far as set-top boxes have gone in the past, Apple’s has always commanded a premium price.
For the sake of context, the current-gen Apple TV costs £179 / $179 / AU$249 for the 32GB version, while the 64GB option costs £199 / $199 / AU$279.
Apple TV 2018: what we want to see
It’s made solid improvement over the last two generation revisions, but there’s still room for improvement should a 6th generation Apple TV ever hit stores.
Apple’s approach to content and voice control still frustrates at times, and it’s in these areas we’re mostly looking for some progress, what with the underlying hardware being reasonably solid at this period in time.
An open approach to apps and third-party video
The walls of Apple’s closed garden have been slowly eroding over the years, but it’s still quite picky about what makes it to its TV-based app store. That’s particularly clear when you’re comparing the Apple TV with something like Android TV-based set-top boxes, where a wide range of applications (including some more controversial options, like Kodi) are available.
It’d be great to see Apple take a similarly open approach to its TV viewing options in the future.
Tastes across the globe vary, and a wider variety of programming and streaming options (as well as ways to play back your own media) would go down a treat.
More gaming options
The last two generations of Apple TV has seen the company dip its toes deeper into the world of gaming – something that, outside of the iOS app store, it’s been reticent to do in a home space in the past.
But with the 5th gen release and the partnership with Thatgamecompany for its game Sky, it started to seem like it was finally taking home gaming seriously.
However, outside of Sky’s release, Apple TV gaming still hasn’t been particularly high profile. It’s clearest rival in this respect is the Nvidia Shield, which takes gaming very seriously with built-for-purpose console conversions for its hardware, and a cloud streaming gaming service.
It’d be great to see Apple get more high-quality developers onboard – which shouldn’t be as hard as it's making it seem considering the relationship that it already has with mobile developers.
Deeper voice control with Siri
Controlling your TV with voice commands is still a thrill, but Apple’s Siri lags behind the capabilities of Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.
The TV space would be a great area for it to invest in, given the relatively narrow contextual window it has to work within.
We’d love to see Siri integration really dive deep next time around - perhaps scheduling a calendar notification for your favorite show release date, for instance.
Better HomePod syncing
Apple’s smart speaker can frustrate thanks to Siri’s sometimes weak recognition capabilities, but one thing that is undeniable about the hardware is its sound quality.
It’s easily the best-sounding smart speaker on the market – if among the most expensive of them, too.
Now that HomePod speakers support stereo pairing and multi-room, would it be possible to get the HomePod to automatically set up in a surround sound configuration if multiple speakers and the TV box are present?
It’d be great to be enveloped by an epic Hollywood soundtrack through those speakers.
Better exclusive content
Apple’s been investing in exclusive content for a few years now, and while Carpool Karaoke still has a relatively loyal following, there wasn’t much fanfare around its reality TV Planet of the Apps Show.
Compare that to what Amazon is producing for its Prime service and Fire TV devices, it seems majorly lacking.
Apple needs to do better to pull in big name TV and movie directors if it’s going to compete with Jeff Bezos’s service and Netflix. Perhaps this could be integrated and subsidized by the long-rumored Apple TV subscription service that the company has been allegedly trying to iron out for years.