Apple has tentative plans to add Dolby Atmos surround sound to its Apple TV 4K set-top box in a future software update, according to a new report.
Dolby Atmos is a technology designed to add a three-dimensional quality to audio from movies and TV shows. And while the current Apple TV 4K doesn’t have support for the sound tech, that’s not a result of a “hardware limitation,” Apple told The Verge’s Nilay Patel. According to Patel, Apple said that “support (for Atmos) is on the roadmap.” Presumably, that means that the tech could be added in a future version of tvOS.
Atmos works by placing sounds in 3D space, rather than confining them to specific channels in specific speakers. Audio engineers figure out where to place these sound “objects” in three-dimensional space. In turn, when a movie or TV show is playing, a receiver will intelligently figure out how to re-create that 3D map of sound in your own home sound system. As Patel puts it, the technology is the “next generation of surround sound formats.”
Several streaming and gaming platforms already offer support for Dolby Atmos, including the Xbox One S and Roku. Additionally, digital content providers are also adopting the technology into their media — Netflix, for example, has begun rolling out content with Dolby Atmos since July. The format is already creeping into movie theaters, and older big-box titles are being remastered with the Dolby Atmos sound design.
Patel theorizes that Apple is working on implementing Dolby Atmos technology into Siri’s voice on the Apple TV platform. That’s could be one of the primary causes of any delay in implementing the technology.
Support for Dolby Atmos is just one of several features that Apple plans on adding to its devices in future updates, including Apple Pay Cash and wireless fast-charging. On the bright side, any delays in feature rollout could be indicative of Apple trying to get the tech and systems as close to perfect as possible before releasing them.