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The new Apple TV update is good for gamers, but new hardware would be better

Apple TV 4K
(Image credit: TechRadar)

It was an announcement-packed WWDC as always this year, but those of us looking for confirmation of a new Apple TV 4K model – recently rumored to be on the cusp of release – went away disappointed.

Apple TV only really gained some credibility in the gaming area with the launch of Apple Arcade last year – a monthly subscription service to games running on iOS. It’s mostly indie games and titles for mobile / iPad, but it does give Apple TV owners a better reason to be gaming on their streaming hardware.

There were a few new gaming-related features announced for existing Apple TV models, though, including a quick resume function for speedily popping back into your game sessions where you left off. It’s a feature already available on the PS4 and Xbox One, while the next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles are set to banish long loading times with their improved power and storage solutions – but it’s still a boon to see it on Apple TV at all.

We also got support for the Xbox Elite Series 2 (a high-end and highly customizable Xbox One controller) and Xbox Adaptive Controller (an accessible Xbox One controller designed for those with disabilities) – adding on from the support of the DualShock 4 and Xbox One gamepads introduced in tvOS 13.

It’s clear that Apple is making big gestures towards its own hardware as a place for all gamers, though the current processor sitting in the Apple TV 4K is holding things back somewhat.

Processing...

The current-gen Apple TV 4K launched back in 2017 and has been the flagship Apple TV model since. It’s certainly due an upgrade, and chatter around a new A12X Bionic processor – the chip used in the iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad Pro 11 tablets released in 2018 – had us excited that we’d get to replace the A10X Fusion chip used in the current-gen Apple TV 4K (and in 2017's iPad Pro devices).

Specifically, Apple claims the eight-core A12X Bionic ups performance by 90% compared to the A10X Fusion, with “twice the graphics performance” too:

“Built on industry-leading seven-nanometer technology, the powerful eight-core A12X Bionic features four performance cores and four efficiency cores for up to 35 percent faster single-core performance and a new performance controller for simultaneous use of all eight cores for an up to 90 percent boost during multi-threaded tasks. A seven-core, Apple-designed GPU delivers up to twice the graphics performance.”

Signs so far point to a new hardware model still being on the horizon, so Apple TV-minded gamers may get the device they’re after – likely around September – but until then, there are plenty of non-Apple game consoles to be enjoying.

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Henry St Leger

Henry is TechRadar's News & Features Editor, covering the stories of the day with verve, moxie, and aplomb. He's spent the past three years reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as well as gaming and VR – including a stint as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.