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Apple TV 2021: Release date, price, specs and leaks

Apple TV
(Image credit: Future)

If the Apple TV 2021 launches this year, it will benefit from the new updates in tvOS 14, announced at WWDC 2020. This tvOS update adds multi-user support for Apple Arcade games, improved integration with Apple HomeKit-compatible accessories and improved picture-in-picture mode (including AirPlay videos). 

Plus, Apple TV Plus rolled out an exciting trailer for the sci-fi series Foundation, based on Isaac Asimov's iconic book series. The tvOS 14 update may not be the only update to the Apple TV 2021. Rumors are floating around about an Apple TV 4K with Apple's speedy A12X Bionic chip (probably not the final name). 

One Apple insider has said the Apple TV 2020 is "ready to ship." It would be first new Apple TV hardware since 2017's Apple TV 4K, which is still one of the best streaming devices in the market.

Here's everything else we know about the Apple TV 2021.

Apple TV 2021 release date

The last Apple TV was released in Sept. 2017, but that doesn't mean Apple will stick to that timetable. In mid-March, the company rolled out the iPad Pro 2020 and the MacBook Air 2020 in press releases at 8am Eastern. Then it dropped the iPhone SE 2020 and MacBook Pro 2020 (13-inch) in April and May with very short notice.

The company could do the same with the Apple TV 2020, considering Apple leaker Jon Prosser says it's "ready to ship."

Apple TV 2021 price

The current Apple TV 4K starts at $179, which is a lot more money than most competing streaming devices. For example, the Roku Ultra, which supports 4K HDR content and comes with a voice remote, costs $99. And the Amazon Fire TV Cube, which has Alexa built in and can control your cable box, costs $119. Hopefully Apple lowers its pricing for the Apple TV 2020.

Apple TV 2021 specs

It appears the Apple TV 2020, in terms of what's changing, may be more about video games than streaming. The first Apple TV 2020 rumor we saw pointed to an overdue speed boost update, that would allow for a new processor. Signs suggests it could be either Apple's A12 or A13 Bionic chip, which are a part of the iPhone generations from 2019 and 2018. To put that in perspective, the most recent Apple TV uses A10 Fusion chip technology, which has been circulating since its 2016 debut in the iPhone 7.

Since the current processors are plenty fast for binge-watching Apple TV Plus shows, Netfix marathons and other live TV apps, this upgrade is probably meant to give the box more gaming prowess, as the Apple TV is one of the Apple Arcade platforms. 

The latest rumor, which 9to5Mac pulled from prominent YouTubers, is that the Apple TV 2020 will come in 64GB and 128GB capacities, doubling the Apple TV 4K's 32GB and 64GB drives. Again, this is most likely for games, allowing for users to keep a larger library of titles on their Apple TV, and allow for even more complex games.

Apple TV 2021 tvOS 14  features

As announced at WWDC, the tvOS 14 update will add or expand several features to the platform that powers the Apple TV. Here's what was revealed:

New Control Center for HomeKit accessories: It looks similar to what's available on iOS and iPad OS. 

Multi-user support for AppleArcade: Switch between users to resume game progress and see different users' game progress, achievements and friends.

Support for more game controllers: including Xbox Elite 2 and the Xbox adaptive controller.

Picture-in-picture mode. Watch the news while using fitness apps. See who's ringing a HomeKit enabled doorbell. And now you can check out a video in 4K via AirPlay from your phone or iPad.

There were several rumored features that weren't announced for tvOS14. 9to5Mac reported on a new Kids Mode that would allow parents to create a profile/account for a child, that they can manage using parental controls. It seems like this could be rolled out soon, since the new tvOS is already adding multi-user support for games.

We also expected the activity-tracking Screen Time functionality to come with the next tvOS, but that wasn't included with tvOS 14.

Apple TV 2021 remote control

We'd love to see a new Apple TV remote that doesn't rely on the touchpad (which can be finicky for some) for navigation. And leaked iOS 14 code suggests a new Apple TV remote is coming. However, we don't if the new remote for the Apple TV 2020 will change the input method or not.