There’s a new Apple TV on the way, and a new iPhone that supports 4K, so will the Apple TV play nicely between these two? Shake the Magic 8 Ball and find out, because the answer may surprise you.
4K, wherefore art thou?
Call us crazy, but we think that when you release a product that supports 4K video capture, you might want to think about including support for it on another product that can connect with 4K TVs.
With the release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone owners will now be able to capture video in glorious 4K Ultra HD, which is that new shiny format bigger TVs have been embracing for the better part of two years, providing more detail than ever.
Content has been the problem, however, and while we finally have a 4K Ultra HD variant of Blu-ray on the way, many in the industry expected that digital delivery was going to be the way this would happen, especially now that Netflix supports a few 4K streams.
Unfortunately, you will not be seeing a 4K delivery of movies or TV shows on the new Apple TV, because right now, the specification on that “new Apple TV” includes a HDMI 1.4 port, not the HDMI 2.x that 4K relies on.
That means no 4K video for you over the Netflix app on an Apple TV, and no 4K movies or 4K TV streams either, despite Apple probably being the best placed to not only negotiate the ultra HD flicks out of movie makers and production houses, while also having some of the best streaming transmission systems in the world.
No, there’ll be no 4K for you either when it comes to AirPlaying your 4K content from your iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, because with HDMI 1.4 there and playback limited to Full HD 1080p, the Apple TV simply cannot take a full 4K stream at its full resolution.
Forget calling us crazy; you might want to call Apple crazy on that one.
To Type C, or not to Type C
There’s a new international standard coming, and it won’t be microUSB or Apple’s Lightning port.
Rather, it’s called “Type C USB”, and it’s a thin totally reversible practically impossible to plug in the wrong way connector that not only provides a charge port, but provides data at super fast speeds, higher than that of Apple’s own Thunderbolt variant and the standard USB 3.0 connectors you find on pretty much every computer today.
That paragraph pretty much says it all about USB Type C (the terms are interchangeable, so you can put “USB” on either end), so if you need to know more, or even need to see it in action on a product, you only need to venture over to the Apple MacBook from earlier in the year.
There was a computer that was so thin, Apple had to throw away practically every port it would normally use and rely instead on only a 3.5mm headset jack and a singular USB Type C port, using this one port for charging, data transfer, video out… you name it.
It’s the one-size-fits-all plug for the new generation of computers.
In fact, back when we reviewed the MacBook, we even compared the Type C port on the computer to Lightning, the port currently sitting on the Apple iPhone and Apple iPad, and hinted that it wouldn’t be long until Apple ditched Lightning and went full hog on the world with Type C.
We knew that wouldn’t happen with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus — too early — but in the iPhone 7 next year, it well might, and with rumours suggesting that the new Microsoft phones will run with a USB Type C plug, as well as more computers expected to bundle these in soon, Apple won’t be alone with the Swiss-army-knife-of-computer-plugs.
Actually, the MacBook is no longer alone, anyway.
All you need to do is take a look at the all-new Apple TV to find that there’s a Type C port here on the back, just above the HDMI port.
Why is there a Type C port here?
According to Apple’s placement of the port, it’s a service port, used by Apple technicians and workers at the store Genius Bar to diagnose if there’s anything wrong with your Apple TV, fixing it for you via this plug in much the same way the microUSB port was there for on the previous generation.
But is there another possibility?
In that basic cover-all description we just gave for USB Type C, we neglected to mention that it being a replacement for Thunderbolt can also handle 4K video, and quite a few streams in fact, though the number of 4K streams is often dependent on the hardware inside the device.
We can’t say for certain whether the A8 processor inside the iPhone 6 and now the new Apple TV will handle several 4K video streams, but it doesn’t actually need to handle several.
Rather, it merely needs one: your TV.
As such, there is a distinct possibility that Apple will at one point open the USB Type C port on the back of the Apple TV for 4K Ultra HD, potentially allowing the TV product to transmit video at a definition higher than that of Full HD.
We will, of course, ask Apple if that is on the cards, and it will probably tell us “Apple does not comment on rumours or speculation” as it has done so many times in the past, but we will still ask, as the inclusion of that rear port seems like it would be more useful as a video transmission port than solely a diagnostic port.
After all, why go to the trouble of including a 4K-capable transmission port in a Full HD only box? We suspect the answer has something to do with a future update.