The Secret to the Apple TV's Comeback Could Be 4K

Apple may not have forgotten about its Apple TV product line after all. And if one report pans out, you may even want one next month.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Bloomberg says that Apple plans to update its set-top box in September. The new version of Apple TV would add the sorely needed ability to stream 4K video, bringing it in line with streaming devices from Roku, Amazon and Google.

4K isn't the only feature Apple's looking to add. The Bloomberg report says the new Apple TV would also highlight live streaming of news and sports. That's keeping in line with Apple's recent efforts in the TV arena, which included releasing a TV app last year that aggregated streaming content into one place. (Well, sort of — Netflix was MIA when Apple's TV app debuted, and you still can't access the streaming service's original programming through the TV app.) It sounds like the focus on live sports and news would come via an update to the TV app itself.

MORE: Where to Get 4K Content: Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and More

If Apple does come out with a new Apple TV, it will be the first update to the product line in two years. Apple's rivals have been hard at work updating their streaming boxes in that time, so it's no wonder that Apple TV now lags behind the competition. A Parks Associates report released this week puts Apple fourth in the streaming media player market, with a 15 percent share. Roku dominates with 37 percent of the market, and even the Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV are looking down at Apple.

Adding 4K support would make the Apple TV a more attractive streaming device, as it would let viewers see programming in higher-resolution. Rumors about a 4K Apple TV first surfaced in February — again, thanks to a Bloomberg report — and more recently, developers poking around the firmware for Apple's upcoming HomePod speaker found evidence of 4K output for an upcoming Apple TV device.

Should the Apple TV be in for an update, it could find itself on a crowded stage at Apple's next press event, which is rumored to be taking place on Sept. 12.

At that event, Apple is widely expected to unveil the iPhone 8, and it could take the wraps off an LTE Apple Watch as well. Add to that the already announced HomePod speaker and the high-end iMac Pro all-in-one, and Apple is looking at a busy close to 2017.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.