Next-Gen 4K Apple TV with HDR Hinted in HomePod Firmware

Next-Gen 4K Apple TV with HDR Hinted in HomePod Firmware Credit: Martin Hajek

HomePod’s leaked firmware has been a treasure trove of information about upcoming Apple devices. But while the leaks have mostly focused on the iPhone 8 thus far, a newly discovered string of code might have revealed some new features of the next-generation Apple TV.

The bits of code, first spotted by iOS developer Guilherme Rambo, refer to a possible 4K HDR display mode for a device — which is likely a next-gen Apple TV, as iOS devices lack native 4K playback capabilities and HomePod doesn’t have a traditional display. Rambo also spotted various references to a handful of different high-dynamic range (HDR) standards, including HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG. Taken together, these finds could suggest that the next Apple TV will support ultra-high-definition 4K playback, as well as several different HDR modes for enhanced contrast and color.

The leak closely follows another related leak. Just a few weeks ago, Apple apparently accidentally confirmed its future plans for 4K and HDR content. Specifically, the company listed certain films on the iTunes Store in the U.K. and Canada with 4K and HDR availability. Currently, HD movies available via the iTunes Store cap out at 1080p. Current-generation Apple TVs also top out at 1080p playback and lack HDR mode support. The Apple TV has been lagging as far as UHD playback compared to its competitors, and it seems likely that Apple is preparing to bring its set-top box up to speed with current standards.

Word of a fifth-generation Apple TV first spread in February when Bloomberg reported that Apple was testing a prototype set-top box internally codenamed J105. When that news spread, not much was known about the next-gen Apple TV other than that it might support 4K playback. With these recent leaks and rumors, however, it’s looking increasingly like a 4K- and HDR-capable Apple TV is just over the horizon.

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