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Apple TV 6 release date and rumours: tvOS updated but no new hardware for 2018

Jonathan Bray Daniel Ostanek
13 Sep 2018
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All the information about the next iteration of Apple TV

The September Apple event has been and gone, aside from a trio of new iPhones – the XS, XS Max and Xr – and a new Apple Watch Series 4 – possibly including a new Macbook Air, there was scant mention of other new hardware.

There were no new iPads launched, although there's still time for that to change later in the year, and no new Apple TV. That's alright, though. The Apple TV isn't a product that often gets an annual upgrade and the latest version – the 4K-enabled fifth-generation Apple TV – was released relatively recently, at 2017's September launch event. 

Apple did, however, announce a release date for tvOS 12, the latest version of the Apple TV's operating system and this will bring with it a couple of major new features: Dolby Atmos and single sign-on. The former is fairly self-explanatory, adding a feature that should bring greater audio expansiveness and "height" to setups with Atmos-enabled hardware.

The second is aimed at making initial setup even easier than it is already, allowing the Apple TV to sign itself in automatically to all your streaming services as soon as it's recognised you've logged on to your home Wi-Fi network. This will require support from your ISP to work, however, so don't expect it to work straight away.

Alas, anyone waiting for next-generation hardware will, however, most probably have to wait for another year. Here's when it's likely to be available and what it might look like:

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Apple TV 6 release date: When can we buy it?

Aside from iPhones, which are as regular as clockwork, the release dates of many other Apple products are harder to predict. The Apple TV is similarly unpredictable: previous models were released in January 2007, September 2010, January 2013, October 2015 and September 2017.

We can make an educated guess though. Going by the previous two editions, the betting money would be on the next Apple TV being released in September 2019. That fits with the recent timeline – and by then Apple may have a worthy selection of upgrades and features to cram into a new model.

Apple TV 6 price: How much will it cost?

Again, we’ll have to look to the past for some ideas on this one. But even then, without a confirmed spec list, it’s a bit tougher to home in on a specific price. We can certainly predict a price range though.

The latest Apple TV available to buy right now is the fifth-gen version, which costs £179 for the 32GB version and £199 for the 64GB box. Barring some great leap forward in set-top box tech, it’s likely that the Apple TV 6 will remain in the same price range, even if UK-US exchange rates conspire to push the price a little higher than last year’s model.

Apple TV 6 design: What will it look like?

The current Apple TV 5 is a 4 x 4in black box with curved corners and an Apple TV logo on the top. It’s unlikely that we’ll see much deviation from this simple, elegant design. The remote control, which hasn’t changed much in the past two editions either, might have a few extra buttons though, depending on any additional features.

Apple TV 6 specs: What will it do?

Again, there’s not a huge amount to go on – but if you look at last year’s model there’s definitely the scope for some judicious upgrades.

Apple TV 5 had Bluetooth 5.0, giving more range when pairing with a controller, phone or keyboard. It also had HDMI 2.0, which brought with it full support for HDR standards such as HDR10 and Dolby Vision. We wouldn’t expect any big changes here.

However, it didn’t feature the then-latest A11 Bionic chip, with Apple instead opting for the A10X Fusion. That means we could see an upgrade there with the A12 on the horizon.

Another neat addition would be a way to find the eminently easy-to-lose remote when it goes missing. Roku has a feature that sets off a noise alarm on the remote when pressed. It’s a simple addition which wouldn’t be too hard to implement.

More exclusive content and gaming options would also be nice to see. Nvidia Shield takes gaming more seriously than Apple has with Apple TV, and features a cloud streaming service, as well as built-for-purpose console conversions. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Prime service and Fire TV hardware have one up on Apple in the exclusive content department.

With the company long-rumoured to be moving into the subscription TV world, and with a slate of original programming on the horizon, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if at least the latter of these wishes come true.