New Apple TV Specs Revealed In HomePod Firmware

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By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Over the years we’ve heard some pretty juicy rumors coming out of Apple. In fact, Steve Jobs used to leak phony rumors in order to track down who the leakers would be and fire them. But what do you do when the one doing the leaking is your own technology? And Apple’s new HomePod may be the best spy the tech industry has known, especially when it comes to the Apple TV.

Unfortunately, when you have a product that relies on third party developers to expand its usefulness, those developers need the operating system and samples of the product in order to write the code for their apps. So when the upcoming HomePod smart speaker was sent out to developers, one decided to dig into the firmware and see what he could find. The result is a treasure trove of information about the next generation Apple TV (known internally at J105).

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According to Guilherme Rambo, HomePod’s firmware contains references to HDR10, and Dolby, as well as 4K. This is leading many technorati to speculate that the next generation Apple TV will finally stream 4K, with high dynamic range and support via HDR10. That is the open source standard that was developed by the BBC and NHK. 4KHDR standard being the third one supported in the firmware.

Couple this with references in the iTunes store of 4K streaming content in HDR, and it seems to verify that Apple has plans for ultra high definition streaming in HDR for its hockey puck-sized, one-time “hobby project.” The content could also support the next generation iPhone. The ubiquitous mobile device has been has been supporting creating 4K video content since the iPhone 6S (and prior with certain apps).

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Latest Mockup of the iPhone 8 (Image: BGR)

But for streaming 4K, the iPhone downscales to 1080p, so it could indicate that the iPhone 7S, also rumored to be called the 10th anniversary iPhone 8, will support HDR natively. Come September, I believe Tim Cook will finally drop the numbers for the 10th anniversary, and simply call it the iPhone. We’ll dive deeper into the next iPhone in a different post, along with rumors pointing to the Apple Watch getting independent cellular connections.

The takeaway here is that Apple is finally going to play catch up with Roku in offering UHD streaming, and going the extra mile in supporting HDR.  That means that Apple TV fans who are also Netflix users will finally be able to enjoy their favorite TV shows in full 4K without having it downscaled by the weak link in the chain.

Meanwhile, since the references are in the firmware now, it makes sense that when HomePod ships this holiday season, and a new Apple TV will be shipping right along with it. I’m betting we’ll get even more news. It’s going to be a great Fall Reveal in Cupertino next month and possibly October!

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.