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We’ve already seen indications that Apple may be planning an update to another one of its long-neglected products, the Apple TV, and now a new set of reports is providing us with a bit more insight into exactly what the new set-top box may actually look like.
We had actually expected Apple to unveil a new Apple TV last fall, since the move would have made quite a bit of sense considering that Apple’s new game subscription service, Apple Arcade, was poised to release titles that would certainly place demands on the A10X CPU found in the current Apple TV 4K, not to mention the more limited storage.
Back in February, developers at 9to5Mac reading the tea leaves in the tvOS 13.4 betas found references to a mysterious new product that seemed to fit the mold of a new Apple TV, but offered few details about what the specs of the new box might be beyond the fact that it would include either an A12 or A13 Bionic CPU, which seems like a rather obvious conclusion anyway.
Now a new exclusive report from Israeli site The Verifier (Google Translate) in collaboration with YouTube channel iUpdate is claiming that the new “Apple TV 6” will double the storage capacity of the previous models while also introducing new “Kids Mode” and Screen Time features.
Storage and CPU
The site’s claims about storage and CPU don’t seem like huge surprises, with estimates that the new Apple TV will come in 64GB and 128GB capacities, doubling the current 32GB and 64GB models. Since most media content is streamed and doesn’t require a ton of storage, this increase would mostly be a nod to Apple Arcade users, where games are stored locally and can easily get into the multi-gigabyte sizes.
This also lines up with what Apple has been doing with its other new releases recently, having just doubled the storage of the entry-level iPad Pro and the new MacBook Air, while the entire Mac mini lineup was refreshed solely to add new storage tiers.
The Verifier’s predictions for the CPU are a bit more interesting, with its sources saying that it could include either an A11 or an A12. The code that 9to5Mac found in iOS 13.4, however, indicates that it will be based on the “arm64e” architecture, which is only used by the A12 and A13 chips. Splitting the difference, this does suggest Apple would use an A12, or a variation thereof, which seems to make the most sense considering that even the new iPad Pro didn’t make the jump to an A13.
Kids Mode and Screen Time
Although Apple introduced support for multiple profiles in tvOS 13 last year (something that The Verifier also originally predicted), and the Apple TV has long supported parental controls, Apple didn’t go quite so far as to integrate the two features. While parents could add their kids’ profiles to the Apple TV, this didn’t automatically restrict them from playing age-inappropriate content; that option still had to be enabled globally in the Apple TV Settings app.
According to this latest report, however, it looks like Apple will finally be adding Screen Time to the Apple TV as part of a new “Kids Mode” feature. This will allow parents to ensure that their kids aren’t watching inappropriate content, as well as monitoring how much time they’re spending on the Apple TV in various apps and games. For all intents and purposes, it sounds like this will be similar to the feature introduced in iOS 12 for the iPhone and iPad, although it’s not yet clear exactly how parents will be able to lock the system down to prevent kids from switching to an adult profile.
The “Kids Mode” will also reportedly include a better design that’s specifically tailored for children to provide them with a simpler and more intuitive interface that focuses only on content that’s appropriate for them.
When’s it Coming
The new Kids Mode and Screen Time features will almost certainly be software features of tvOS, rather than being dependent on new Apple TV hardware, although with tvOS 13.4 likely to be released this week, it’s a safe bet that we won’t see these until tvOS 14 arrives in the fall.
This also happens to be the timeline that The Verifier has pegged for the new set-top box to make its debut. While we had still hoped to see one a bit sooner — the Apple TV 4K is now almost three years old — sources say that Apple isn’t expected to even announced the new set-top box until November or December. This seems unusually late — Apple almost never holds events in November, much less December — however it’s conceivably possible Apple could plan to tie it in somehow with the first anniversary of its Apple TV+ service, or it may simply be a matter of the Apple TV still being a much lower priority than everything else that Apple has going on, not to mention continuing delays related to the worldwide novel coronavirus pandemic.
Still, the fact that we’ve already seen code in tvOS 13.4 makes a strong case for the new set-top box to be arriving sooner rather than later, and frankly if it’s nothing more than a spec bump, there’s little reason for Apple to hold it back for a big reveal, so it’s possible that the report is conflating the Apple TV hardware with the new features that could arrive in tvOS 14, which almost certainly is slated for September at the very earliest.