New Apple TV 2018: what we want to see

Apple TV remote

Update: A new Apple TV could be right around the corner – though we didn't hear a peek at Apple's September launch event. We had a flurry of announcements for the next batch of iPhones – iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR / XC – but nothing on the next smart TV from the technology titan. For now, check out our predictions in the article below...

Can we expect a new Apple TV for 2018? Or is Apple happy with the most recent 4K edition pushed out in 2017? We're certainly ready for more, and we've collected all the rumors and our personal wishes for the new device right here.

To put the Apple TV 2018 in context, it's been a tough road for the Apple TV as a whole. Labeled a “hobby” project by Steve Jobs, the idea of a set-top box was very much on the back burner at Apple for many years.

The 4K-enabled Apple TV that arrived last year finally saw the streamer meet the promise it’s always held, boasting super-high resolution playback, some fun gaming options and voice control that actually worked.

So what will the follow-up look like? Here's what we might see from the Apple TV 2018, which would be the 6th generation of the box.

Apple TV

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A new version of Apple’s set-top box
  • When is it out? We’d expect an announcement in September 2019
  • What will it cost? Hopefully around the price of previous models

Apple TV 6 (2018) release date

As ever with unannounced Apple products, outside the annual iPhone release, it’s hard to know when, if ever, a new product will hit stores. But we can make educated guesses based on previous models’ release dates.

The fifth-generation, 4K-capable Apple TV model was revealed on September 12, 2017, almost two years to the day that the 4th generation Apple TV was announced. 

By that reckoning, a September 2019 reveal is most likely, giving time for TV technology to progress enough for Apple to have something new to discuss. An Apple TV in 2018 might just not be worth it for Apple – though we're got our eyes on the new iPhone launch event today in case they get in an announcement early.

Of course we now know that WWDC 2018 came and went without any mention of a new Apple TV. Maybe next year.

Apple TV

Apple TV 6 (2018) price

Of course, without a confirmed spec sheet, it’s difficult to speculate on cost. Apple knows that messing with the formula too much might hurt sales, though.

It's worth bearing in mind that as far as set-top boxes have gone in the past, Apple’s has always commanded a premium price. 

For the sake of context, the current-gen Apple TV costs £179 / $179 / AU$249 for the 32GB version, while the 64GB option costs £199 / $199 / AU$279. The Apple TV 2018 (or 2019) would be around that, we think.

Apple TV 6 (2018): what we want to see

The Apple TV line has made some solid steps forward over the last two generation revisions, but there’s still room for improvement should a 6th-generation Apple TV ever hit stores. 

Apple’s approach to content and voice control still frustrates at times, and it’s in these areas we’re mostly looking for some progress with a new Apple TV, what with the underlying hardware being reasonably solid at this period in time.

An open approach to apps and third-party video

The walls of Apple’s closed garden have been slowly eroding over the years, but it’s still quite picky about what makes it to its TV-based app store. That’s particularly clear when you’re comparing the Apple TV with something like Android TV-based set-top boxes, where a wide range of applications (including some more controversial options like Kodi) are available.

It’d be great to see Apple take a similarly open approach to its TV viewing options in the future. Tastes across the globe vary, and a wider variety of programming and streaming options (as well as ways to play back your own media) would go down a treat if they were included in the Apple TV 2018.

Apple TV

More gaming options

The last two generations of Apple TV have seen the company dip its toes deeper into the world of gaming – something that, outside of the iOS app store, it’s been reticent to do in a home space in the past. 

But with the 5th-gen release and the partnership with Thatgamecompany for its game Sky, it started to seem like it was finally taking home gaming seriously.

However, outside of Sky’s release, Apple TV gaming still hasn’t been particularly high profile. Its clearest rival in this respect is the Nvidia Shield, which takes gaming very seriously with built-for-purpose console conversions for its hardware, and a cloud streaming gaming service. 

It’d be great to see Apple get more high-quality developers onboard – which shouldn’t be as hard as it's making it seem, considering the relationship that it already has with mobile developers.

Deeper voice control with Siri

Controlling your TV with voice commands is still a thrill, but Apple’s Siri lags behind the capabilities of Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. 

The TV space would be a great area for it to invest in, given the relatively narrow contextual window it has to work within. 

We’d love to see Siri integration really dive deep with the 6th-gen Apple TV 2018 – perhaps scheduling a calendar notification for your favorite show release date, for instance.

Apple HomePod

Better HomePod syncing

Apple’s smart speaker can frustrate thanks to Siri’s sometimes weak recognition capabilities, but one thing that is undeniable about the hardware is its sound quality. 

It’s easily the best-sounding smart speaker on the market – if among the most expensive of them, too.

Now that HomePod speakers support stereo pairing and multi-room, would it be possible to get the HomePod to automatically set up in a surround sound configuration if multiple speakers and the TV box are present? 

It’d be great to be enveloped by an epic Hollywood soundtrack through those speakers.

Better exclusive content

Apple’s been investing in exclusive content for a few years now, and while Carpool Karaoke still has a relatively loyal following, there wasn’t much fanfare around its reality TV Planet of the Apps Show. 

Compare that to what Amazon is producing for its Prime service and Fire TV devices, and it seems majorly lacking. 

Apple needs to do better to pull in big name TV and movie directors if it’s going to compete with Jeff Bezos’s service and Netflix. Perhaps this could be integrated and subsidized by the long-rumored Apple TV subscription service that the company has been allegedly trying to iron out for years.