Amid all the excitement surrounding the iPhone X (and the inevitable Black Mirror comparisons), Apple’s September 2017 keynote address delivered one further tease of what could be the future of entertainment: the new and upgraded Apple TV 4K box.
The 4K and HDR-ready device is available in the UK on 22nd September, with the all-new Apple TV app coming by the end of the year.
Apple’s home entertainment device is a little black box that plugs into any TV and allows you to stream TV and movies via the internet. If you’ve bought or rented shows on iTunes, you can watch them straight on your TV, while if you’re a Netflix subscriber you can search their library of content and stream straight to the big screen.
Before you say it, yes, there are lots of other products that do this too, from plug-in devices like Roku and Google Chromecast to the latest generation of Smart TVs, which have many of these internet-connected apps already built in.
Still, Apple’s latest TV upgrade has the potential to make the choice that bit harder…
So, what’s so special about Apple TV 4K?
As the name implies, the big selling point of the latest upgrade is the image quality – if your TV can handle it.
4K has four times the number of pixels compared to regular HD screens, meaning finer details and clarity. The ‘HDR’ bit basically refers to the colour quality of the image: shadows are darker, highlights are brighter, and colours pop.
Apple says that any show purchased through iTunes will automatically be upgraded to 4K HDR when they become available, at no extra cost. Shows like Stranger Things, Black Mirror and The Crown meanwhile are already available to stream on Netflix in 4K.
But remember, this will only have an impact if your TV can handle the extra resolution.
So what services can you actually watch on Apple TV?
As well as your whole iTunes library, major TV streaming services including BBC iPlayer and Netflix are already available for UK Apple TV viewers, with Amazon Prime Video expected to be added by the end of the year.
At the launch of the new Apple TV, the company made a big song and dance about bringing live sport directly to the service – although there is no word yet on whether this applies just to US customers or whether Apple are making forays in the UK sports market too.
UK Apple TV viewers can watch sport via Sky’s standalone subscription service NOW TV, but you need a sports pass to watch Sky Sports channels.
Do I have to buy the Apple TV box to get all this?
The new Apple TV app will also be available at the end of the year in the UK for iPhone and iPad users, giving viewers the same choice of apps on their device all in one place.
The idea is rather than switching between separate apps like Netflix and iPlayer, the Apple TV app brings everything together – so if you’re subscribed to a number of services you can search through them all in one place.
If you have both the app and the box, you can also ‘send’ shows straight to your TV to continue watching on the big screen.
How much does Apple TV 4K cost in the UK?
The new Apple TV 4K costs £179 for the 32GB model, or £199 for the 64GB version. You can pre-order Apple TV 4K from Friday 15th September, arriving from Friday 22nd September 2017.