Sam Radford

April 20, 2021

A strange update to the Apple TV 4K box

I’m a big Apple TV fan. The little black box sits under each TV in our household. Its centralised organising of all our family TV watching is pretty much perfect. Every major provider here in the UK, apart from Netflix, now integrates with the Apple TV app. And it makes for a great overall experience. Sure it’s pricey, but I don’t think there’s anything else out there offering a similar all round service. So I’m a happy customer.

That said, I’m confused by the update Apple announced at their Spring Forward event today. The box got an internal upgrade, including a new A12 Bionic chip. There are a few nice new features too – the colour balance detail looks clever and interesting. But considering this hasn’t been updated for years, I expected more.

The biggest change was to the remote. Though I didn’t mind the previous remote, I know lots of people hated it. But I can see that the new one is an improvement. They’ve taken on board the feedback and come up with a very Apple solution. It looks neat.

The remote in many ways feels like the bigger news than the box update. And certainly what most people will be more bothered about. How many current Apple TV 4K owners are likely to feel compelled to buy the new version? Not many I’d suggest. I foresee a lot of orders of just the new remote though!

Returning to the update to the box itself, it leaves me feeling dissatisfied. It feels like a minor upgrade that Apple had to do in order to justify introducing the new remote. But it was no giant leap forward. It showed nothing of Apple’s vision for doing anything more in this space. And that’s disappointing. 

Though I love the Apple TV box for my own use, it’s probably the one product I’m least likely to recommend to friends and family. I don’t see this update changing that.