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As Apple’s annual WWDC is set to kick off a week from now on June 22, rumors are circulating about what new hardware might make an appearance alongside new iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, macOS and tvOS software. One candidate due for an upgrade is the Apple TV 4K.
First launched two and a half years ago, in September 2017, it has been far too long since Apple gave it media streamer a proper upgrade, something that’s become clearer in the especially fast-paced world of streaming. Apple has concentrated its updates on services in the meantime, rolling out Apple TV Plus, overhauling the Apple TV app to include iTunes and developing an all-new gaming platform in Apple Arcade. But its flagship TV box has remained unchanged while competitors such as Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV and Google power an increasing number of new TV devices.
As usual with Apple, rumors of a refresh are always bubbling up, but the company hasn’t announced anything official yet. Here are a few things I would like to see in the 2020 update as well as some hopeful, if not terribly optimistic, wishes.
A near given in any refresh of Apple’s hardware, the latest rumors have Apple bumping the current box’s A10X chip up to a more capable A12X.
While potentially not as powerful as the A13 Bionic processor found in the iPhone 11 line and iPhone SE, the A12X is the same type of processor Apple used in the 2018 iPad Pros. Considering that Apple touted the chip as being capable of providing graphics that rivaled the Xbox One S when it introduced that iPad Pro, this could be a big boost for developers looking to push their Arcade games onto a bigger screen.
The Apple TV’s remote is ultra sleek and modern, with a premium look that fits the $180 starting price the Apple TV 4K still commands. While I don’t mind the Lightning cable charging (though USB-C would be great) and the remote is one of the few places where I appreciate Siri, the touchpad drives me nuts.
I often find the remote lagging or overshooting where I want it to go regardless of whether I’m entering text, scrolling through apps or playing a game. I just wish for a simple directional pad like Amazon’s Fire TV or Roku’s boxes or, yes, the now-discontinued third-generation Apple TV. Rumors suggest a new remote is in the works, but what that looks like remains unknown.
While we’re at it, adding IR support in addition to CEC for controlling AV equipment would be useful. Roku and Fire TV remotes can control just about any TV’s volume and power using infrared commands, allowing you to ditch your TV remote entirely. Apple needs to do the same thing.
Read more: The best Apple TV remote cases for less than $10
UWB support for finding lost remotes
Apple added what it calls a “U1” chip into the iPhone 11 line last year, though it has yet to fully detail the chip’s capabilities. Taking advantage of what is known as ultra wideband technology, the chip is designed to help with spatial awareness allowing you to pinpoint exactly where a lost item is. The technology is also rumored to be key to Apple’s long-expected Tile-like Apple Tag trackers.
Apple describes the tech on its iPhone 11 page as “GPS at the scale of your living room” so why not add the functionality into the Apple TV and new remote to help you find the inevitable lost remote in your living room? At the very least it gives Apple an answer to Roku, which has had a less flashy but still practical remote finder — where the clicker emits a sound until you unearth it from the couch cushions — on its premium Ultra boxes for years.
Wish: A cheaper Apple TV streaming stick
Given how long it takes Apple to come out with new streaming hardware, one refresh in 2020 would already be a long-overdue win, and asking for two would be pushing it. But since this is a wishlist, here goes.
When it comes to streaming, cheap sticks from Roku and Amazon, as well as Chromecasts from Google, have been incredibly popular with people looking to boost the capabilities of their nonsmart TVs. A less expensive, perhaps slimmed-down version of the Apple TV would give Apple a new way to get people into its ecosystem, providing another avenue for not just streaming Apple TV Plus shows (since Apple’s streaming service is already on Roku and Amazon’s respective platforms) but also a way into Arcade, Apple Music and iTunes.
Add in AirPlay, which Apple already has expanded to support the latest TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony, and you could have a compelling way to expand the walled garden that is Apple’s ecosystem for people who aren’t interested in buying a new TV. And $50 sounds like a good price to me.
That’s my wishlist. If there’s anything you’d like to see in a new Apple TV device, let me know in the comments.