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The Apple TV might soon be able to play 8K video

The Apple TV might soon be able to play 8K video
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple TV might be ready to go 8K. Evidence of support for AV1 – a next-gen, 8K-friendly codec – has been spotted in the company's tvOS 16 beta code.

The AV1 reference was brought to light by flatpanelshd, which adds that Apple could roll out AV1 support across tvOS, iOS, iPadOS and macOS devices in the near future.

AV1 is the high-quality codec of choice for streaming giants such as YouTube and Netflix. It's said to be more efficient than rival codecs as it uses less data to stream 4K and 8K footage.

Apple is a founding member of the Alliance for Open Media – the group that created the open-source, royalty-free alternative to HEVC (H.265) – so it wouldn't be a huge surprise if it did adopt AV1.  

The big question is, will Apple add AV1 to the current Apple TV 4K (2021) or wait, and add it to a future streaming device such as the long-rumoured Apple TV (2022)

It's not yet clear but, as hdtvtest notes, the existing Apple TV 4K could struggle to support 8K video. Firstly, its HDMI 2.1 port is believed to be capped at a data throughput rate of 18gbps (well below the 48gbps maximum). And secondly, its A12 Bionic chip, created back in 2018, does not support hardware decoding for AV1.

Of course, Apple could still roll out AV1 for use with 4K video rather than data-hungry 8K footage. But that could risk leaving owners disappointed. 

If you ask us, it seems much more likely that AV1's ability to deliver 8K footage will debut on the next Apple TV, said to be blessed with a faster A14 chip and 4GB of RAM.

MORE:

The best 8K TVs you can buy right now

Our guide to the best TV streaming devices

Check out our Amazon Fire TV 4K review

Tom Bailey

Tom is a journalist, copywriter and content designer based in the UK. He has written articles for T3, ShortList, The Sun, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph, Elle Deco, The Sunday Times, Men's Health, Mr Porter, Oracle and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include mobile technology, electric vehicles and video streaming.

  • Freddy
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    A new up could makes it possible for the Apple TV 4K to play 8K video – but there's a catch.

    The Apple TV might soon be able to play 8K video : Read more
    Wicked man! I will finally get 8K on my QLED. :)
    Reply
  • Friesiansam
    Freddy said:
    Wicked man! I will finally get 8K on my QLED. :)
    That's good,.

    Oh wait, there's little or nowt in 8K to watch...
    Reply
  • jpvonhemel
    Apple, Maybe fix Dolby Atmos dropouts before you spend resources on a resolution only Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk can take advantage of.
    Reply
  • buzz_lightclick
    I can only ever get stereo sound when watching something on Apple TV!
    Reply