Apple this week announced an updated version of its Apple TV 4K set-top box. It includes a brand new remote control, a more powerful processor for improved picture quality, and as a bonus for smart home builders, Thread support.
Before we dive into Thread, here’s a look at some of the other flagship features of the new Apple TV 4K.
The remote is the biggest change for 2021, with an all-new design that features more buttons for better control of media and your TV. There’s also a new directional clickpad that can be slid to navigate and, in the blink of an eye to iPod clickwheels, used to scroll through content by twisting a thumb on it.
We think this is a solid redesign of a remote control that in its previous iteration received its fair share of criticism, and we hope the new model will help show the competition how a good remote control is. Is made.
Also new (at least for the Apple TV 4K) is the inclusion of Apple’s A12 Bionic chip. This processor arrived in 2018 and first appeared in the iPhone XS, before also appearing in the iPad Air 2019 and the iPad 2020. It is not the last chip in the block, but it should bring a welcome improvement in performance to the Apple TV 4K.
On that note, Apple claims the box can now handle high frame rate HDR video, which means 4K HDR video with twice the frame rate of the previous Apple TV 4K. Like this model, the new Apple TV can also handle Dolby Vision, HDR 10, and Dolby Atmos. There’s also the addition of Wi-Fi 6 for a faster wireless network and HDMI 2.1, which could mean 4K at 120fps in the future, although that’s not a feature Apple mentioned. for the time being.
New Apple TV 4K color calibration feature uses iPhoneApple
One of the more exciting new features, pictured above, is the way the Apple TV 4K works with an iPhone to help it calibrate its picture output, regardless of your TV setup. To use the feature, pair the two devices, then place your iPhone against the TV screen so that its screen and ambient light sensor are facing the TV. IPhone then measures your TV’s output to help Apple TV 4K calibrate its picture output. All of this happens without you even having to touch your TV’s picture settings menu.
And then there is Thread. After the HomePod Mini, the 2021 Apple TV 4K is the second Apple product to feature Thread, which is a smart home network standard. Similar to Zigbee and Z-Wave, Thread is a low-power wireless mesh network protocol designed for Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home automation. Just like other smart home systems, Thread helps devices like smart door locks, thermostats, lights, and sensors interact through the cloud.
Devices that also work with Thread include Eve’s smart home products, the Nest Hub Max and Nest Wi-Fi by Google and Nanoleaf smart lighting, as well as Apple’s HomePod Mini.
HomePod Mini was Apple’s first product to support Thread
A few Apple products with Thread don’t make a complete smart home, but it’s interesting to see the company slowly adding such networking technology to its smart home products. And, for now at least, the slow approach makes sense, since Thread was relatively unknown, even in the smart home space, before Apple joined The Thread Group in the summer of 2018, joining Amazon. , Google and others.
We’ve long hoped that Apple would double its HomeKit platform and turn Apple TV into a full-fledged smart home control center. The Home app was added to tvOS 14 in 2020, along with ambient lighting and facial recognition controls with compatible video doorbells, but we think Apple could go much further here.
We don’t expect Thread on the Apple TV 4K to turn Apple into an Amazon and Nest rival overnight, but the iPhone maker is usually the one that takes a slow, thoughtful approach when it comes to it. enters a new market sector. Just look at how long it took for the iPad and the watch to get in the stride.
But with Thread now on two Apple devices, we’re hoping to see it appear on a replacement for the recently discontinued HomePod, and potentially more devices in the future. For now, it feels like Apple is quietly preparing its smart devices for the home while also finding the best way to enter the IoT space in a more meaningful way.