The new Apple TV was unveiled by Apple at the iPhone launch event on 9 September, at which point Apple said it would ship in October. The device became available to order from 26 October with shipments happening towards the end of the week.
Here's everything you need to know about the new device, including how much it will cost in the UK, how you can buy the Apple TV, whether you will be able to play games on the Apple TV using your existing games controller (or joystick), and how to use headphones with the Apple TV... Read on for more information.
UPDATE, 26 October: The new Apple TV is on sale now! If you order now, Apple is quoting 3-5 business days before you receive your purchase, although this may increase as stocks diminish. You can order here, and we have more information in the release date and UK price sections.
UPDATE, 29 October: The BBC has announced that it will release the iPlayer service for the Apple TV. You can expect the service to arrive "soon".
Read Next: Compete guide to the Apple TV App Store, plus how to find the best apps | How to set up the new Apple TV | New Apple TV 2015 review | New Apple TV vs old Apple TV | Best Apple TV game controllers | Best Apple TV games | Best Apple TV Apps | Things to say to Siri on the Apple TV | How to use the Siri Remote on the Apple TV
Apple TV: Release date
The new Apple TV is on sale now and you can order it from Apple's web store here. We're seeing an estimate of 3-5 business days before you receive your product, but this may increase as more people order the device. Good luck!
The shipment date was no real surprise. During the 9 September iPhone launch event Apple revealed the new Apple TV and said that it would be available in late October. Then, speaking on stage at the WSJD Live Conference on 19 October, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the new Apple TV would be available for pre-order on Monday 26 October and should ship by Friday 30 October.
At the WSJD Live Conference Apple CEO Cook spoke about how consumers have turned their backs on cable and broadcast TV in favour of streaming services and interactive experiences. He spoke of how Apple can improve the "terrible, broken" process of watching TV.
Cook described how the "linear TV" experience is "terrible" and "broken" and needs to be modernised, his solution is apps, which are a significant part of the new Apple TV platform.
How to buy an Apple TV
UPDATE, 26 October: As mentioned above, the updated Apple TV is on sale now. Apple isn't even calling this a 'preorder', just a normal purchase, although of course you'll have to wait a little for your delivery. Follow the link above to place your order right now.
You can't buy the new Apple TV from Amazon. The humongous online retailer is refusing to sell any devices that compete with its own TV streaming device. This means you also won't be able to purchase the Google Chromecast from Amazon either.
Apparently this is because these devices don’t offer the Amazon Prime video streaming platform, rather than Amazon just being anti-competitive, although it could look a little like Amazon is holding these companies to ransom.
Here's Amazon's take on the matter, according to a report on Bloomberg: "Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime. It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."
Luckily those wanting to buy an Apple TV will be able to purchase one from an Apple high street store, the Apple website, or at an Apple High Street store, as well as other locations, like John Lewis.
Alternatively, you might be keen for Apple to include Amazon Prime on the Apple TV now that Amazon has bought the rights to Top Gear along with some other popular programs. Although with Apple’s new app based Apple TV interface, surely it’s up to Amazon to design their Amazon Prime app for the device.
Apple TV: UK price
UPDATE, 26 October: We now have official UK prices for the new Apple TV, and they match the original predictions by our reader below: it's £129 for the 32GB model and £169 for the 64GB version.
As you will see from the following updates, finding out the UK price of the new Apple TVs before Apple officially launched them was a bit of a wild goose chase:
UPDATE, 21 October: A Macworld reader got in touch, claiming that an Apple reseller has 'leaked' the UK price of the new Apple TV. The reader, who chose to remain anonymous, says he rang up KRCS and was able to place a pre-order for the device, which costs £129 for the 32GB model and £169 for 64GB. (Yet another update - a Twitter follower of ours says the pricing is actually £179 for the 64GB model.)
The new Apple TV isn't listed on KRCS's website (the previous-generation Apple TV is still there), but our reader insists that the company is allowing customers to place pre-orders over the phone in an unofficial capacity. We'll follow up on this as soon as the business reopens its offices (they aren't taking calls right now), but for the time being we must consider this an unconfirmed rumour.
UPDATE, 22 October: We rang KRCS as soon as we got in this morning, and the story is partly true. KRCS says that Apple told them quite straightforwardly that they can take pre-orders for the new Apple TV (presumably this is true for other resellers as well), and as sales director Robert Woods pointed out to me, it's pretty hard to take pre-orders without letting customers know the price.
Nevertheless, the fact that neither Apple nor any of the other resellers have revealed UK prices suggests that Apple doesn't want this information revealed just yet, so Woods chose to neither confirm nor deny the numbers we've listed above while he gets in touch with Apple for clarification. (We'll update this story as soon as we have more information, naturally.) He also told me that KRCS was instructed not to list the new Apple TV on its site ahead of the launch.
HOPEFULLY FINAL UPDATE, 22 October: KRCS has got in touch again and apparently they've withdrawn the offer. We're not sure why, but gentle pressure from Apple is certainly a possibility. We'll update yet again if we hear anything further.
In the US the 32GB lowest-capacity version costs twice as much as the entry level model at $149 while the 64GB version costs $199. Given that there are a number of competitors on the market that have considerably lower price points, this higher price may be a stumbling block for Apple.
Our initial estimates of the UK prices were based on the following price points in the US: $149 for 32GB (£97 before VAT, approx. £120 including VAT) or $199 for 64GB (£129 before VAT, approx. £160 including VAT). It turns out we were about £9 out each time...
Another way to estimate UK pricing for the new device is to look at similarly priced Apple products. The Beats Tour In-Ear headphones (Apple now owns Beats) retail at $149 in the US, and £109 in the UK. The 16GB iPod touch retails at $199 in the US, and £159 in the UK. IN this case the estimated prices were below those Apple finally agreed on.
Is the Apple TV too expensive?
The older Apple TV costs £59 (it's still available to buy here) and it looks like the new model will cost around double that. In addition, the competition is priced far lower than the Apple TV.
Perhaps the Apple TV, now at a higher price than it was previously, is too expensive.
In addition, having long neglected the market for set top boxes, Apple has potentially lost some of the credibility in this arena, suggests Fox Business.
But does it matter if the Apple TV is too expensive? When the first Apple TV launched it was also priced too high as far as many were concerned, but over the year the price came down considerably. It's entirely likely that the same will happen this time.
What really matters is whether Apple has the right solution to the problem of TV (assuming there is a problem with TV). According to Apple analyst Horace Dediu, TV has fallen by roughly 30% among the young (12-34) in the last five years, and this is the market that matters because over te next decade they will become the most influential group. "And this group does not love TV." This is the market that the Apple TV, with its apps based interface is aimed at.
Sure it's too expensive for this market currently, but ultimately these are the people who are leading the revolution in the way we consume television.
Another factor to consider is just how many TVs there are that could have an Apple TV attached to them, the number is pretty huge.
Which Apple TV should I buy? 32GB or 64GB?
There's a big price difference between the 32GB and 64GB Apple TV. Do you really need the extra storage?
Apple's own advice is: "If you plan to use your Apple TV primarily to stream movies, TV shows, and music or to play a few apps and games, you’ll probably be fine with 32GB of storage."
While, "If you plan to download and use lots of apps and games, choose the 64GB configuration. Keep in mind when making your decision, that some apps, when in use, do require additional storage." You can read more here.
Apple TV: New Siri remote
The new Apple TV comes with a new way of controlling it: Voice and touch. The Remote has been redesigned with this in mind.
There is a glass touch surface across the top and, according to Apple, you can easily glide across a set of movies and then stop when you get to the one you want.
While watching TV you can swipe up for info, swipe down to go back to the screen, for example.
The Remote uses bluetooth too, so no need to point the remote at the Apple TV anymore. And, according to Apple, you can use the remote to turn your TV on and change the volume. When you need to recharge the remote - which we assume will be a bit more power hungry than the current one - there is a lightening connector.
Apple TV: Siri and voice control
The remote features a Siri button. You will be able to use Siri to navigate the Apple TV using natural language.
Hold down this Siri button and ask “show me funny TV shows” and Siri will search iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Showtime (and hopefully UK-based apps eventually) to find the shows and films you want to watch.
Similarly, you could ask to see the episode of Modern Family with Edward Norton, as the keynote presenter did, for example. Or you could ask, “What did she say” and Siri will skip back 15 seconds and turn on the captions.
Siri can help you find what you want to watch if you aren’t sure what you fancy. For example, ask for James Bond and Siri will show you James Bond films - ask for the ones with Sean Connery and it will reduce the list to just those.
You can also ask Siri for info while you are watching your shows, whether you want to know the weather or the sports results, and it won’t interrupt what you are watching, instead it will add a line at the bottom of the screen, but if you want to see more information then you can swipe up to enter the app.
How much does the Apple TV remote control cost?
The Siri Remote comes with the Apple TV, but if you want to purchase an additional remote it will cost $79 (approx £51 ex VAT, UK price TBC) so try not to lose it. You can also buy a $13 strap to keep it on your wrist if you are using it for motion activated gaming. If you do lose your remote it appears that you will still be able to control it with your IPhone, and likely an Apple Watch.
Why the Apple TV will have an app lead interface
During the presentation on 9 September 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained Apple's philosophy in creating an app lead interface for the Apple TV. "More great content being create for TV than every before. This is the golden age of television. But the television hasn’t changed that much in decades. Television has been standing still."
"Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative," he continued. "We believe the future of television is apps. In fact this transition has already begun - we are spending more time watching TV on our iPhones and iPads via apps."
Apple's philosophy is that TV as apps is "so much better", because you can search for what you want and watch it where you want.
Cook continued: "We need a new foundation for TV. One that's built on powerful hardware, a modern OS, and with developer tools so that developers can create apps, and has an app store so that customers can find those apps and personalise their experience better than ever before."
"We believe the new Apple TV is the 'future of television'," he said, introducing Phil Schiller to the stage.
Apple TV: tvOS software interface
The company is introducing a new operating system for the Apple TV based on iOS and built for the living room. It is called TVOS.
tvOS is the new Apple TV operating system which is based on iOS. Developers will be able to create apps using the exact same frameworks they use for iOS, OS X And watchOS. However, if you were hoping you would be able to update your existing Apple TV you are out of luck - it won’t run on the current or older models.
It would appear that the new features need that A8 chip in the new Apple TV. We’ve heard that there will be a compatibility update for recent Apple TVs though, we’re not sure if that means that they could be updated with the necessary hardware, we doubt it.
Apple TV: Third party app development and how to get an Apple TV development kit
You will be able to download apps from the tvOS App Store. Developers will be at work adapting their apps for the new interface, no doubt. Some developers were given an early access to the framework so some apps will be ready at launch.
There are 11 million developers and Apple says it’s easy to develop apps, so we should see some great apps soon.
Following the unveiling of the new Apple TV at the 9 September event, Apple invited developers to enter a lottery where successful applicants would be able to get their hands on the Apple TV development kit, and a new Apple TV.
Following the success of the program, Apple later increased availability of the developer kit for the Apple TV, however the company is still limiting the number of developers able to get their hands on one.
As Apple explained in an email released to developers in early October: “Due to overwhelming demand, we’ve made more Apple TV Developer Kits available”. The company is charging $1 for the kit, but this is only to verify the billing address. Once completed Apple will send out a unit. The deadline for applications was 9 October.
Beware if you do get your hands on the Apple TV development kit – Apple is showing no sympathy for anyone who breaks the NDA and reveals features of the new device. iFixIt learned this the hard way after publishing a tear-down of the new Apple TV on their website. In reaction Apple pulled iFixIt’s app from the App Store. Of course Apple probably places more importance on the app store version of websites than the owners of those websites do, and iFixIt has an excellent website so there is no real need to use the app. Apple will just miss out on the profits from the advertising that appears on the app.
Apple TV: TV, movies and more
There are some apps that are already coming to the Apple TV. During the keynote Apple revealed that Netflix and a load of US TV content providers are already in the works. Of course, the ability to watch TV this way won't only depend on the content being provided in the UK, but also on our broadband speeds. Steve Holford, VP Products, Hyperoptic, said: "Apple is renowned for its pedigree in mass-industry digitisation, so it’s highly likely Apple is set to revolutionise the TV market just like it did with music - taking streaming and apps from the laptop to the living room. However the decider will be the consumer experience, which is very much out of Apple’s control and dependent on the quality of the user’s broadband."
Apple TV: When will iPlayer arrive on Apple TV
When the Apple TV was first announced in September we were hopeful that finally the BBC would bring iPlayer to Apple’s set top box, other than by a workaround that allows users to stream iPlayer from their iPhone or iPad to the TV using AirPlay.
However, our hopes were dashed when the BBC reportedly revealed to fans on Twitter that it had “no plans currently” to develop an iPlayer app for the Apple TV.
Not content with the BBC dragging its heals over this, a couple of developers from Dorset built their own proof of concept iPlayer app for the Apple TV in an attempt to encourage the BBC to create an iPlayer app for the new device.
The proof of concept app - which isn’t available on the App Store - is called Auntie Player. According to the report on MacRumors it took just nine hours to create the app. They created the app at the Hack to the Future event.
However, now the BBC has made an about turn and has announced that a BBC iPlayer app will come to the Apple TV "in coming months". In an article on the BBC website the company reveals that: "The catch-up app is not ready to launch alongside the revamped set top box [which is on sale now]".
According to the BBC article, ITV has no plans to to release an app for Apple TV.
Apple TV: What about Apple's plans for a streaming service
Rumours that Apple will launch a TV streaming service have been long running - we have a separate article about Apple's streaming service plans here - and now a CEO from American broadcaster CBS has spoken out suggesting that it could launch soon.
The CEO of US TV station CBS Les Moonves has hinted that the rumoured Apple TV steaming service may soon arrive.
The revelation came during an interview with Bloomberg TV in which he suggested his company would soon come to an arrangement with Apple.
Moons said: “Apple is having conversations with everyone about doing their own streaming services. We have had those conversations, as have the other networks. Do I think something will happen? Probably, but I do not know when.”
This isn’t the first time Moonves has made comments about the rumoured service, earlier this year he made a similar revelation in an interview at a Re/code conference, suggesting he was in ongoing conversations with Apple.
Apple TV: Other apps
It’s not just TV apps, AirB&B will be on there too, so you can plan your next holiday. Clothing company Gilt has developed an app so you can shop from the Apple TV.
According to Apple, the app store is just as easy to use as it is on the iPhone.
Developers can create universal apps, so a single purchase can get you the app on your iPhone, iPad and TV.
Apple has added Apple Music to the Apple TV, and you will still have access to your photos.
Apple TV: Games
Thanks to the fast processor and the remote that performs as a touch-based as well as motion-based controller, you can expect gaming to become a big deal for the Apple TV. Apple introduced a number of games developers to the stage during the keynote to show off their wares.
Games coming to Apple TV include: Star Wars, Guitar Hero, Crossy Road and more. Crossy Road is already on the Amazon Fire TV but the Apple TV version will be multiplayer. There’s also Beats Sports with support for four players - all you need is an iPhone or iPad to join in.
Gaming might be a key new feature of the new Apple TV, but Apple seems to be stunting the device as a console. All games developers have to ensure their games work with the Apple Remote. This is fair enough given that it would be unreasonable to expect a customer to purchase an expensive remote to play a game in addition to purchasing the game in the first place, but the limitations of the Apple Remote will no doubt be a limitation to gameplay. It’s not like the games consoles which come with joysticks as standard, the Apple Remote is first and foremost a TV remote control, and gaming with it is likely to be frustrating and perhaps even RSI inducing.
Apple's tvOS App Programming Guide states: "Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controller."
How big are Apple TV apps and games?
While the third party apps designed for the Apple TV are limited to 200MB for the initial download, there are also APIs which can be used to retreive additional resources if required. These additional resources could take up 2GB of space on your Apple TV (apps aren't allowed to take up more than 2.2GB of space). It's most liklely that games will be using these additional resources, and as a result a game could be 2.2GB in size.
You also have to consider aditional resources you might download into an app, for example, programmes from an on-demand streaming service.
However, the Apple TV won't store all of this data all of the time, in a bid to manage storage. The device will only download the parts of an app that the user actually needs, with the rest of the data remaining in the cloud, according to Venturebeat.
Apple TV and third party controllers and joy sticks
You won’t be stuck with the new Apple TV remote, you will be able to use a number of third-party controllers - they just need to be in the MFi program, which means Apple will need to have certified them. Games developers will need to build support for the various controllers into their games though. The Apple TV will actually support four different controller at once.
However, it appears that the Apple TV is only able to support two Bluetooth controllers at once (along with the Apple Remote) – scuppering developers attempts to make multiplayer games. It’s possible this is just a bug related to the controllers, Touch Arcade has been investigating further but has yet to find a developer able to connect more than two Bluetooth controllers.
Apple TV and Home Automation
Apple has applied for a Trademark for the words Siri Remote. The really interesting thing, points out Patently Apple, is that the company hints in their trademark filing that Apple TV will become the hub for home automation.
We're awaiting news of Apple’s plans for HomeKit, which it introduced at WWDC back in 2014. While some companies are using the Home Kit APIs for their home automation apps and devices, the expectation was that Apple would utilize the Apple TV as a hub for this activity, allowing users to control their devices when away from the home. As yet this aspect of the solution has not materialised.
However, as Patently Apple spotted in the trademark filing for the Siri Remote, Apple refers to "home automation hubs", suggesting that these will be associated with the Siri Remote.
The filing describes a "remote control devices for controlling the operations of televisions, video monitors, set top boxes, audio, video, and media players and recorders, game players, entertainment systems, home theatre systems, home automation hubs."
Apple TV: Design
The new Apple TV is a similar design to before, but it’s 10mm taller than the current Apple TV.
Apple TV: dimensions
At 1.3in deep the new Apple TV is just under an inch taller than the old Apple TV.
Apple TV: ports
The new Apple TV will feature a USB-C port along with HDMI.
Apple TV and audio, how to use headphones with the new Apple TV
If you study the image above you will see that the new Apple TV ditches the optical audio out port that was a feature of the older model. This is likely to affect those with a home theatre set up that relies on optical audio out ports – there are copyright compliance requirements that can make it impossible to connect headphones without using an intermediary receiver or an optical out port, notes Apple Insider.
This would suggest that audio can only be sent through the HDMI port – which may stop users being able to connect headphones to the device.
However, it turns out you will be able to listen to the audio coming from your Apple TV using Bluetooth headphones - great news for anyone attempting to watch TV in bed without disturbing their partner’s slumber, notes 9to5Mac.
There's also a night mode that will reduce the sound levels of everything except speech – so there will be no loud rumblings or music disturb your house mates. This could also be useful for those hard of hearing who find it difficult to separate the speech from the rest of the soundtrack.
Apple TV: Screensavers
Apple’s also created some high def video to be used instead of static screensavers. This video will play day or night shots depending on the time of day where you are.
Another fancy effect, there is a 3D effect on the selected icon - you can even manipulate it with your thumb on the remote.
Apple TV: Specs
The new Apple TV will come in two capacities, one with 32GB Flash storage and one with 64GB Flash storage.
How repairable is the Apple TV?
According to that iFixIt teardown (the one that got them in a whole lot of trouble with Apple) the Apple TV is surprisingly repairable.
According to the site, which specializes in repairs: "Only a few plastic clips stand in the way here, with no adhesive or screws in sight."
This is in marked contrast to many Apple products.
Apple TV: 4K
The Apple TV won’t stream 4K video and this might be an issue for some. After all, many big screen TVs will support 4K resolutions and more and more 4K UHD content it being created.
Another reason why this might be a bad move is the fact that many of the Apple TV competitors have gone 4K already, including the Amazon Fire HD box, the Roku 4 and the Nvidia Shield TV.
Apple is sticking with 1080p high definition video instead, in it's defence, there aren’t many 4K TVs out there right now.
Read on to find out what we expected prior to the 9 September event.