Apple will be including 4K video capabilities in its upcoming fifth-generation Apple TV set-top box when it is announced in September alongside the company's latest 10th anniversary iPhones and new Apple Watch models.
The upgraded Apple TV product will also be able to stream live TV content,
including news and sports, according to an Aug. 24 story by Bloomberg based on details from unnamed sources who are familiar with the company's plans.
The upcoming Apple TV set-top box will have a "renewed focus on the living room" to bring new capabilities to users through a faster processor that can handle 4K video requirements, the story reported. Video resolution in 4K is twice that of 1080p high-definition video, providing improved video quality. If the 4K feature is launched, viewers will have to use the improved set-top box with a television that is capable of 4K picture reproduction.
Also in the works is an improved version of Apple's TV app, which is in testing and aimed at aggregating programming from other live streaming apps, the story reported. The original Apple TV app debuted in 2016.
Content optimized for televisions capable of playing High Dynamic Range (HDR) video will also be playable on the upcoming Apple TV device, according to Bloomberg.
The 4K capabilities for Apple TV have been rumored for more than a year. Similar rumors swirled in August and September of 2016, but the feature didn't arrive when Apple announced its overall product updates at the time. The last big update for Apple TV arrived in 2015.
Pricing for the current Apple TV models is $149 for a 32GB version and $199 for a 64GB version.
The first Apple TV set-top box was unveiled in September 2006 by Apple and went on sale in early 2007. That first-generation model included HDMI and component video outputs (480p or 720p), optical and RCA stereo audio connections, and came with 40GB or 160GB of internal storage.
The second-generation model, which was introduced in 2010, included HDMI (720p) video and optical audio, while the third-generation version came out in 2012 and featured HDMI (720p or 1080p) video and optical audio.
The latest fourth-generation version of Apple TV debuted in September 2015 and comes in 32GB and 64GB models and HDMI 1.4 (720p or 1080p) video.
Apple has plenty of competition in the streaming video player marketplace. In September 2016, Roku added five new product models to its product lineup, giving customers a wide array of options beyond the company's original Roku Streaming Stick and its Roku TV models. The added streaming players, which range from $30 to $130, were aimed at customers who want to stream video without having to have cable or satellite television services.
Other competitors include Google's $35 Chromecast dongle and Amazon's $40 Fire TV stick.