The next generation of the Apple TV 4K launched in April 2021 but this was far from the reinvention many were hoping for. Instead, we got a very nice new remote, high frame rate HDR and color balance adjustments.
While the Apple TV+ service can be accessed from a wide range of platforms, including some smart TVs, the Apple TV 4K remains the single dedicated streaming device that Apple offers (if you discount older models). With such a prominent position I feel a new model – rather than an update – is overdue and should happen in 2022.
That's not to say that the Apple TV 4K feels outdated, because it really doesn't. It's fast, has plenty of storage and delivers a great range of services in ultra-high definition. However, below are some areas I feel the Apple TV could do more.
Apple TV design
The last real design change of the Apple TV was back in 2012 with the third generation model and even that wasn't a massive jump from the 2010 edition. So 2022 could finally be the time to do something new with the look of the device.
The current design is inoffensive but it could certainly be more playful. There are no other Apple devices that fade into the background the way the Apple TV does. The closest was the Airport Express that was discontinued in 2018.
I'd love to see some color or texture in a new model and maybe a move away from the flat slab-like shape. Is there any reason it couldn't be spherical like the HomePod mini?
Apple TV versions
With the iPhone, Apple has got very good at producing a range of versions of a single product. While you can still buy the Apple TV HD, it's just an older version of the same device.
Amazon does this really well with the Fire TV stick and Cube. It currently offers five versions across a range of prices. I'd love to see a stick version of the Apple TV that plugs straight into the HDMI port of the TV in addition to a premium model.
There's also an option here for Apple to go one further and produce its own soundbar that combines the power of an Apple TV 4K with a HomePod. This is surely the logical step for Apple, combining its audio technology directly with a steaming box?
Apple TV speakers
If not an Apple TV soundbar (or maybe as well as), how about some dedicated cinema speakers that connect to the Apple TV to create a full Dolby Atmos sound experience? There are plenty of sound systems that already work with the Apple TV and you can even link your HomePod mini speakers up but there's no reason why we couldn't see Apple TV satellite speakers and a sub.
This might feel like a bit of a stretch, accept that Apple already has its HomePod speakers and a new HomePod has to be coming soon too. Perhaps future HomePod models will provide more integration with the Apple TV system.
Apple TV video calling
I've mentioned this before but I'm still amazed that the Apple TV doesn't have a dedicated FaceTime app or anyway to make video calls from the device. Thanks to the changes to FaceTime, which allow people to join a call from a non-Apple device with a link using a browser, you can even FaceTime from an Xbox. In fact, any smart device with a browser and ability to plug in a camera would be able to join a call.
The argument is that you can make video calls on your phone and laptop and AirPlay them over to your TV via the Apple TV. But wouldn't having a FaceTime app and a way to connect a webcam directly be even better?
It's been rumored that a future HomePod could feature a display and FaceTime abilities. It would be a real shame if the same abilities weren't made available to the Apple TV. There could even be an Apple webcam that attached by AirPlay or Bluetooth, that could also be used by Mac minis.