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New fifth-gen Apple TV 2016 release date & features rumours

Karen Haslam | June 23, 2016
2015's fourth-gen Apple TV - the first Apple TV device to allow users to install apps - was unveiled by Apple at the iPhone 6s launch event on 9 September 2015, and was available to buy from 26 October 2015. But we're already looking ahead to the next, fifth-gen (5G) Apple TV.

New Apple TV 2016 release date rumours: When will Apple release the 5th-gen Apple TV?

Our money is on autumn 2016, although Apple may choose to hold it back until the start of 2017 and make more of the product's 10th anniversary.

Here's when the four generations of Apple TV launched:

  • 1st-gen Apple TV: January 2007

  • 2nd-gen Apple TV: September 2010

  • 3rd-gen Apple TV: March 2012

  • 4th-gen Apple TV: September 2015

It's clear that Apple updates its Apple TV less often than its iPhones, iPads and Macs, with a three and a half year wait between the first and second models. Based on that, it would be reasonable to expect the 5G Apple TV to appear in 2018 or even 2019, and we certainly don't have firm evidence to dispute that.

But our instincts tell us that the Apple TV's position and status in the company's portfolio of products has changed. It used to be a sideline and a hobby, but with the growing importance of streaming media and smart-home applications, and with the arrival on the platform of games and its own App Store, Apple TV is moving to centre stage.

And we're not the only ones to think that Apple is likely to start updating the TV a bit more often from now on.

report (link for subscribers only) in DigiTimes last year predicted that the fifth-generation Apple TV would go into trial production as early as December 2015, with volume production starting in the first quarter of 2016. Changes were said to include a dramatically improved hardware performance and new functions "to help it no longer serve only as a set-top box".

New Apple TV release date: WWDC 2016 and tvOS 10

We had felt it was unlikely that the 5G Apple TV would be launched at WWDC 2016, since the event came round less than a year after Apple rolled out the fourth-gen model and none of the previous Apple TVs had launched in summer. In fact, Apple launched no new hardware at the event whatsoever; but the new version of the Apple TV's operating system, tvOS 10, got considerable stage time. As we often observe when discussing new iPhones and iPads, many of the most significant updates come not from new hardware but from free software updates.

Siri gets some big improvements in tvOS's new update: it can now search the Apple TV's movie and TV database with more complex queries. It can search YouTube, too, and any live streaming channels can be launched by saying "watch" and then the name of the channel. There's a new dark mode for Apple TV, which makes the background black instead of the bright white we're used to. And the Apple TV Remote app has been redesigned; it now offers all the Siri remote features and can be used for Siri queries using the built-in mic.

 

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