Apple could once have been considered the leader of the streaming set-top box race. It's Apple TV has been with us since 2007 and after graduating from a so-called hobby project, matured into one of the best streamers on sale.
But the current model has been with us for three years now. And while it was the only streamer to offer 4K HDR video compatibility with both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, the competition has quickly caught up – and costs much less.
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Google's latest Chromecast with the company's new Google TV platform costs just $50, compared to the $179 Apple TV 4K.
It was rumored in early 2020 that a new version of the Apple TV was on the way. That might have been put on the back burner due to the coronavirus pandemic, but now Apple is reportedly putting a renewed focus on its streaming box.
According to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, who has an excellent track record for Apple news, the company is planning to launch a new Apple TV with a focus on video games in 2021. Gurman wrote this week: "For next year, Apple is planning an upgraded box with a stronger gaming focus, an updated remote and a new processor."
The update could be the biggest the Apple TV has seen since 2015, and would hopefully get Apple back into the streaming race. That said, we won't expect to see the new model costing any less than today's version, so it will have to offer a compelling reason for consumers to spend over $100 more than an equivalent from Google, Amazon and Roku.
Improved gaming performance would be a welcome addition to the Apple TV, especially given Apple's Arcade subscription service. The company might also be feeling the pressure from Google and Amazon, who through their respective Stadia and Luna game-streaming platforms are becoming enticing alternatives to traditional consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
We were pleased to see the Apple TV gain the Home app with tvOS 14 this summer, and hope to see Apple go further with this with the model due in 2021.
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