Disney+ on Apple TV 4K gets free Dolby Atmos upgrade, but on Android TV it got worse

Disney Plus logo
(Image credit: Disney)

If you're an Apple TV 4K owner with a pair of AirPods that support Spatial Audio, and a Disney+ subscription, then the latest free update to Disney's app is a great bonus: you now get full Dolby Atmos support when watching in Spatial Audio.

However, if you've got an Android TV or Google TV – including Sony, TCL and Hisense models, plus Nvidia Shield devices – then a recent update has had the opposite effect: for many users, Dolby Atmos support seems to have disappeared.

Both of these updates were spotted by FlatpanelsHD as users shared their stories of Android agony – and AirPods ecstasy – online.

The good news for Android and Google TV users is that many people have already spotted the issue resolving itself, presumably with a server-side fix, which means no new version of the app is required. For a lot of people, Dolby Atmos might be back by the time you try it, so no harm done – but if you find that the sound from your Dolby Atmos soundbar is suddenly feeling a bit flat and you're using the app on your Google-powered TV, this is probably why.

So what's this Apple TV upgrade about?

apple airpods max

Look how immersed this lady is by the Spatial Audio of her AirPods Max… probably. (Image credit: Apple)

The upgrade for Apple TV users is relatively subtle, but is still something very welcome. Until now, when you listened to movies on Disney+ with AirPods 3rd Gen, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, you were getting Spatial Audio, but only with a boring old Dolby 5.1 surround-sound mix, even though the Disney+ app supports Dolby Atmos.

This update means that you'll get full Dolby Atmos object-based audio support, with FlatpanelsHD confirming a 16-channel output. You'll get much more precise positioning of sounds in space around you when using the head-tracking Spatial Audio, including with height channels.

If you've never tried Spatial Audio on headphones for Dolby Atmos movies, we can't recommend it enough. It feels like being in full-on movie theater multi-speaker setup, and you can really crank up the volume… but no else will hear it, obviously. If you want the full cinematic experience after the kids have gone to sleep, there's no better way to do it than an Apple TV 4K, a Dolby Atmos movie, and a pair of AirPods with Spatial Audio support.

And no one has to know that the movie you chose to experience all this was Moana. Until you start singing along, at least.

Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.