TvOS code suggests a new Apple TV 4K with 120Hz playback

Enlarge / The Apple TV 4K and the remote control.

Samuel Axon

It’s been more than three years since Apple updated the Apple TV 4K, and online speculation about a follow-up reaches a fever pitch every time Apple has a product showcase event planned. So far, no new device has materialized, but the code in the tvOS 14.5 beta may hint not only that a new Apple TV is on the way, but that it will support 120Hz playback in 4K.

As 9to5Mac first reported, pineBoard from tvOS 14.5 (the operating system interface manager) contains references to the terms “supports 120Hz” and “120Hz”, a not too subtle indication that the operating system will support refresh rates of 120 And since the current 4K Apple TV only has one HDMI 2.0 port, which doesn’t support 4K at 120 Hz (as opposed to the more recent HDMI 2.1 standard), this discovery seems to suggest that new Apple TV hardware is on the way too. . .

Of course, only a few TVs currently support 120Hz refresh rates, usually the high-end ones preferred by gamers and made in the last two years. Most TVs still target 60Hz. There is currently very little 120Hz video content available, although enthusiasts have speculated that the refresh rate could be a real boon for sports content. However, the new video game consoles that were released last year, Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, support 120 Hz playback, which is preferred by some gamers for certain very fast paced games and difficult or competitive. As those consoles continue to be sold, they could increase the demand for 120Hz televisions.

Apple could choose to add 120Hz capacity to future Apple TV hardware for three reasons: a more streamlined interface, future-proofed for high-frame-rate video content that may emerge later, and of course games.

Lately, the company has taken gaming more seriously, after years of treating it as a secondary use case at best for its devices. It recently added dozens of re-released iPhone and iPad classics to Apple Arcade, including microtransaction-driven games that have been adapted to be microtransaction-free. Arcade has also been securing relatively high-profile exclusives, such as Fantasy, the first JRPG from the creator of Final Fantasy in several years, and possibly the last.

Right now, Apple’s iPad Pro has a 120Hz display, but none of the company’s other products do. However, there have been rumors that Apple will bring 120 Hz to the iPhone lineup this year. And as for the Apple TV 4K, a Bloomberg report in December stated that an updated Apple TV with a greater focus on games is expected to launch sometime this year.

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