Apple TV

Apple TV
Apple TV 4K
Developer Apple Inc.
Manufacturer Apple Inc.
Foxconn (under contract)
Pegatron (under contract)
Type Set-top box microconsole
Release date
  • 1st: January 9, 2007 (2007-01-09)
  • 2nd: September 1, 2010 (2010-09-01)
  • 3rd: March 7, 2012 (2012-03-07)
  • 3rd Rev A: January 28, 2013 (2013-01-28)
  • 4th: October 29, 2015 (2015-10-29)
  • 5th (4K): September 22, 2017 (2017-09-22)
Introductory price
  • US$299.00 (1st generation)[1]
    US$99.00 (2nd and 3rd generation)[2]
    US$149.00 (32 GB 4th generation) / US$179.00 (32 GB 5th generation) / US$199.00 (64 GB 4th and 5th generation)[3]
Operating system 1st: Apple TV Software 3.0.2
Based on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
Released February 10, 2010 (2010-02-10)
2nd: Apple TV Software 6.2.1
Based on iOS 7.1.2
Released June 30, 2014 (2014-06-30)
3rd and 3rd Rev A: Apple TV Software 7.2.2
Based on iOS 8.4.2
Released December 12, 2016 (2016-12-12)
4th and 5th (4K): tvOS 11.4
Based on iOS 11.4
Released May 29, 2018 (2018-05-29)
  • 1st: 40 or 160 GB
  • 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd Rev A: 8 GB (Not user-accessible, caching only)
  • 4th and 5th (4K): 32 or 64 GB NAND Flash
Online services
As of October 27, 2016 8,000 total apps, including 2,000 games and 1,600 video apps for 4th and 5th generation models.[5]
  • 1st:
  • 28 mm (1.1 in) (h)
  • 197 mm (7.7 in) (w)
  • 197 mm (7.7 in) (d)
  • 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd Rev A:
  • 23 mm (0.9 in) (h)
  • 98 mm (3.9 in) (w)
  • 98 mm (3.9 in) (d)
  • 4th and 5th (4K):
  • 35 mm (1.4 in) (h)
  • 98 mm (3.9 in) (w)
  • 98 mm (3.9 in) (d)
Weight 1st: 2.4 lb (1.09 kg)
2nd, 3rd, and 3rd Rev A: 0.6 lb (0.27 kg)
4th and 5th (4K): 15 oz (425 g)

Apple TV is a digital media player and microconsole developed and sold by Apple Inc. It is a small network appliance and entertainment device that can receive digital data from a number of sources and stream to a capable television.

Apple TV is an HDMI-compliant source device. To use it for viewing, it has to be connected to an enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen television via an HDMI cable. The device has no integrated controls and can only be controlled externally, either by an Apple Remote or Siri Remote control device (with which it is sold) using its infrared/Bluetooth capability, by the Apple TV Remote app (downloadable from App Store) on iOS devices, such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Apple Watch, using its Wi-Fi capability, or by some third-party infrared remotes.[6][7]

Its Wi-Fi capability is also used to receive digital content from various iOS apps using AirPlay or directly from the iTunes Store, which is then streamed to the TV. It also plays digital content from the iTunes Store, Netflix, Hulu, Now TV (UK only), SlingTV, PlayStation Vue, Amazon Prime Video, DirecTV, YouTube, and Vevo along with HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, Starz, and the TV Everywhere portals of several cable and broadcast networks, and the video subscription portals of three of the four major North American sports leagues:, NBA League Pass, and It plays content from any macOS or Windows computer running iTunes. Apple began to promote the Live Tune-In feature that allows the viewer to ask Siri to tune to live streams of CBS, ESPN, and Disney XD among many others that support Live Tune-In.


Earlier attempts at entering Home entertainment market

Apple first got into the home entertainment industry in 1993 with the short lived Macintosh TV. Macintosh TV had a 14 inch CRT screen along with a TV tuner card.[8] However only 10,000 units of Macintosh TV were sold and that endeavour ended.[9]. A few years later, Apple's next foray into the television industry came with the Apple Interactive Television Box. Apple Interactive Television Box was a collaboration venture between Apple, BT and Belgacom but it never went on full sale.[9][10]. Apple's last major attempt to enter the home entertainment market before Apple TV occurred with their launch of Apple Bandai Pippin in the late 1990s. Apple Bandai Pippin combined a home game console with a networked computer.[9][11]

1st generation history

Apple TV was unveiled as a work in progress called "iTV" on September 12, 2006 using a modified Front Row interface using the Apple Remote.[12][13] Apple started taking pre-orders for Apple TV on January 9, 2007. The name "iTV" was originally going to be used to keep it in line with the rest of their "i"-based products (iMac, iPod, etc.), but was not used because the British terrestrial broadcast network ITV holds the rights to the name in the UK and threatened to take legal action against Apple.[14]

Apple TV started shipping on March 21, 2007 with a 40 GB hard disk.[15] Apple released a 160 GB HDD model on May 31, 2007; and ceased selling the 40 GB HDD version on September 14, 2009.[16]

On January 15, 2008, a major and free software upgrade was announced; this turned the Apple TV into a stand-alone device that no longer required a computer running iTunes on Mac OS X or Windows to stream or sync content to it, and making most of the Apple TV's hard disk redundant. The update allowed the device to rent and purchase content directly from iTunes Store, as well as download podcasts and stream photos from MobileMe (which was called .Mac at the time) and Flickr.[17] This update did away with Front Row and introduced a new interface for the original Apple TV in which content was organized into six categories, all of which appeared in a large square box on the screen upon startup (movies, TV shows, music, YouTube, podcasts, and photos) and presented in the initial menu, along with a "Settings" option for configuration, including software updates.[18][19]

On July 10, 2008, Apple released the iTunes Remote app on the App Store,[20] and the Apple TV 2.1 software update that added recognition for the iPhone and iPod Touch as remote control devices intended as a software alternative to the Apple Remote.[21] Later updates to the Apple TV, iTunes, and Remote software added support for the iPad, and introduced support for new features as they were added to iTunes.

In July 2011, Apple discontinued the Front Row interface for Mac users, leaving subsequent Apple TVs as the only officially-supported 10-foot user interface from Apple.

On September 9, 2015, Apple officially classified the first generation Apple TV as being obsolete/vintage which means that owners of first generation Apple TV will no longer be able to get service after this date.[22]

In September 2017, with the release of iTunes 12.7, it is no longer possible to sync and stream with the first generation Apple TV, although it is not listed in the iTunes update release notes.

Beginning May 25, 2018, security changes now prevent the first generation Apple TV from using the iTunes Store.[23]

2nd and 3rd generation history

The second generation Apple TV was unveiled on September 1, 2010, and was the first to run on a variant of iOS.[24][25][26] The device was now housed in a smaller, all-black case, one-quarter the size of the original. The new model did away with an internal hard drive and had 8 GB internal flash storage, enough local storage for buffering purposes; all media was now streamed, instead of synced.[27] The new device could also stream rented content from iTunes and video from computers or iOS devices via AirPlay. All content is drawn from online or locally connected sources.

In the March 7, 2012 presentation that mainly dealt with the third generation iPad, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a third version of the Apple TV. The third generation Apple TV is externally identical to the second generation model and includes a single-core A5 processor. It also supports 1080p content from iTunes and Netflix.[28] On January 28, 2013, Apple silently released a third generation "Rev A" which included component changes.

On March 9, 2015, Apple reduced the price of the 3rd generation (Rev A) Apple TV to $69.

On October 4, 2016, 9to5Mac reported that Apple had phased out the Apple TV 3rd generation, with Apple Store employees instructed to pull all units and demo units from store shelves. Shortly afterwards, Apple took down the purchase page for the Apple TV 3rd generation from its website, with the link redirecting to the purchase page for the Apple TV 4th generation.[29]

Amazon Video was automatically added to 3rd generation Apple TVs running 7.2.2 on December 6, 2017.[30]

4th and 5th generation history

On September 9, 2015, Apple announced the 4th generation Apple TV, to ship in October 2015. It is the first major update to the platform since the release of the 2nd generation Apple TV on September 1, 2010. Tim Cook took the stage and said "The future of TV is apps". He also stated that the Apple TV needed a modern OS. While matching the form factor of the 2nd and 3rd generation models, it is significantly taller. The 4th generation Apple TV features a new touch remote allowing swipe-to-select functionality instead of the old remote's arrow button, and integrated Siri support with a built-in microphone and an accelerometer (IMU). The Siri button on the remote allows several functions, including searching across providers for content, accessing additional metadata and video/audio controls.

The 4th generation also uses a new operating system, tvOS, with an associated app store, allowing download of third-party apps for video, audio, games and other content. Upon release, the third-party apps were available from a limited range of providers, with new APIs providing opportunities for more third-party apps to be released in the future. A requirement of new apps and games is that they must include interfacing with the new touchpad-enabled Siri remote.[31] Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said that tvOS 9 is 95 percent based on iOS 9 with the interface and APIs being tweaked to support the big screen.

Upon launch, there were several unexpected issues which included incompatibility with Apple's Remote app for iOS and watchOS,[32] which were fixed by Apple in December 2015.

As Amazon's Fire TV competes directly with the Apple TV, Amazon initially declined to develop an Amazon Video application for the Apple TV and declined to sell the 4th generation Apple TV, along with removing all 3rd generation SKUs in late October 2015.[33] Amazon reversed their stance and released their app in late 2017,[34] and has stated that the Apple TV will be sold on Amazon as well.[35]

On September 13, 2016, Apple released the tvOS 10 software update for the Apple TV, bringing an all new remote app, single-sign on, dark mode, HomeKit support, and many more features to the 4th generation Apple TV.

On September 12, 2017, Apple announced the 5th generation Apple TV, named Apple TV 4K, which supports 2160p output, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and includes a faster Apple A10X Fusion processor. Dolby Atmos support will be added with the forthcoming tvOS 12.[36] Externally it is similar to the 4th generation model, with the only differences being the addition of vents on the base, the removal of the USB-C port, and the addition of a white outline around the menu button on the included Siri Remote. Following the announcement of the new models, the 64 GB version of the 4th generation Apple TV was discontinued.[37]


Apple TV allows consumers to use an HDTV to stream video, music, and podcasts as well as downloading apps and games from the tvOS App Store. The first, second, and third generations offered limited content which Apple had provisioned to work with Apple TV. These have now been discontinued[38] in favor of the fourth generation Apple TV, with an OS based on iOS called tvOS which lets developers create their own apps with their own interface that run on Apple TV. These include multimedia, music apps, and games.

Features of Apple TV include:

  • Video Streaming
    • The primary function of Apple TV is streaming video through the internet. Users of Apple TV can rent or buy movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store, or stream video from a variety of services found in the tvOS App Store such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, Vimeo, HBO Now, Showtime, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now.
    • Users can stream live and on-demand content from apps that support login through a cable provider by way of one universal app called TV. TV unifies all content into one central application that allows the user to watch whatever they want from any source while providing recommendations. These include ABC, NBC, CBS, NBA, NFL, NHL, WatchESPN, History Channel, Food Network, CNN, Fox News, HGTV, Disney, National Geographic, and many others. The upcoming single-sign on feature in tvOS 10.1 will allow users to log in to all of these apps at once, bypassing the need to authenticate each individually.
  • Music and Podcasts Streaming
    • Users can access their music and podcasts libraries that they purchased in iTunes through iCloud through the Music and Podcasts apps, respectively. In addition, users can also subscribe to music streaming services such as Apple Music, Pandora Music, Qello, and Vevo and access content that way.
  • Photos
    • The built in Photos app syncs user photos from iCloud Photo Library and displays them on TV. In addition, users can download third-party apps like Adobe Lightroom [39] to view, edit and share them.[40]
  • Apps and Games
    • With the fourth generation Apple TV and later, users can download apps and games from the tvOS App Store. This app store is similar to the one found on the Apple iPhone and iPad.
    • Apps can now be ported from iOS easily by developers since tvOS and iOS share a common codebase and kernel.
      • Examples include the Papa John's Pizza[41] app which allows for users to order pizza right from Apple TV and Zillow which allows users to search for homes right on their TV.[42]. There is even a NASA app for Apple TV which includes live streaming from the ISS.[43]
    • Games use the Accelerometer and Gyroscope along with the touchpad found on the Siri Remote for control. External Bluetooth Game controllers: (such as the SteelSeries Nimbus, or the HORIPAD ULTIMATE Wireless Gaming Controller) can also be paired.
      • Examples include Asphalt 8, a driving game which can be played using the Siri Remote.
  • Casting and Mirroring
    • With AirPlay, users can stream or mirror content from your iOS device or Mac wirelessly. AirPlay can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen in Control Center on iOS or in the Menu Bar on a Mac. There are several different functions to AirPlay.[44] These include:
      • Casting which allows users to wirelessly send video or audio from their iPhone, iPad, or Mac to the Apple TV
      • Mirroring which allows users to wirelessly mirror their Mac screen or AirPlay device which to the TV, using it as a second monitor.
      • Peer-to-Peer AirPlay which uses Bluetooth to connect if the Apple TV and the iOS Device/Mac are not on the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Siri
    • Siri is a voice assistant on tvOS that allows a user to check the weather, stocks, sports scores, as well as searching for content across a multitude of different applications. Voice dictation can also be used in text fields, including usernames and passwords.
    • Universal search is available for a wide number of apps in the United States, but the feature is limited to iTunes and Netflix in Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In Australia, universal search supports movies and TV shows in iTunes, Netflix, and Stan.[45][46] Apple has been rapidly expanding the feature to encompass additional channels worldwide.[47]
  • HomeKit
    • The third generation[48] Apple TV and later can also be used as a home hub to control all of the HomeKit devices, such as locks, thermostats, or garage doors, in one's home, either locally or over the Internet. However, HomeKit Automation, such as automatic implementation of scenes, is only possible with a fourth generation Apple TV or later. A user can use Siri on Apple TV (4th generation or later) to control the devices.
  • General
    • HDMI CEC to control other devices in a user's home theater setup.[49]
    • App Switcher which enables users to switch apps
    • Aerial Screensaver which allows the TV to display a flyover view of a city when Apple TV is inactive. Screensavers can also be invoked from the home screen by pressing menu on the Siri Remote once.[50]

App Store

  • With the fourth generation Apple TV and tvOS, Apple announced an App Store which will allow any developer to make apps using the APIs available specifically tailored towards the TV. Also, since tvOS is based on iOS, any developer can port over apps from iOS and with a few modifications, as Apple stated on stage, and can make them available for all tvOS users with the App Store. The App Store will not be available to previous Apple TVs and will be a feature of the fourth generation Apple TV onward.


Since tvOS and watchOS are based on iOS, they have inherited many of the accessibility features of iOS and macOS and are compatible with Apple's entire product line including the Apple Watch as a remote controller for the Apple TV.

tvOS includes the Apple technologies of VoiceOver, Zoom, and Siri to help the blind and those with low vision. VoiceOver, Apple’s screen reader is available for more than 30 languages and enables visually impaired users to know what is on the visual display and input responses to on-screen prompts. VoiceOver gestures uses gestures that Apple users are already familiar with in other Apple products (flicks, taps, and the rotor) making the Apple TV familiar to the disabled in a way akin to how Apple designs their products to have a fit and finish consistency across product lines be it familiarity with macOS on a Macintosh, watchOS on an Apple Watch, or the iOS operating system on iPhones, iPads, or iPods.

Like other Apple products such as the iPhone with a three click sequence on the home button to activate accessibility features, with Apple TV's tvOS, the disabled user can activate VoiceOver without any installation process. One needs only to triple-click the Menu button on the Siri Remote and the Apple TV will guide the user through the complete initial setup, a task that is non-trivial to the visually impaired in most comparable products on the market.

Another accessibility feature is to increase contrast on the screen which acts by reducing the transparency of background elements on Movie and TV Show pages, menu tabs, and other parts of the operating system. The visually impaired can also turn on a high-contrast cursor to better delineate the focused content. The user can also opt to turn on "reduce motion" which in some screen actions, such as moving between app icons on the Home screen and launching apps are visually simpler which is of benefit to reduce strain on the eyes.

tvOS enables users to watch movies with audio descriptions of what is being shown on the screen. Movies with audio descriptions are displayed with the AD (Audio Description) icon in the iTunes Store for tvOS and in iTunes on a Macintosh or Windows PC.

Pairing a Bluetooth keyboard with the tvOS on the Apple TV enables another accessibility feature that also is an incorporation of VoiceOver. When typing, VoiceOver mirrors with an audio voice, each character pressed on the keyboard and repeated again when it is entered. The Apple TV is designed to work with the Apple Wireless Keyboard or the Apple Magic Keyboard. It will work with almost any brand of bluetooth keyboard.

Apple TV with and without tvOS supports closed captioning, so the deaf or hard of hearing can experience TV episodes and feature-length movies. Compatible episodes and movies are denoted with a CC (closed captioning) or SDH (Descriptive Audio) icon in the iTunes Store either on the Apple TV or in iTunes itself. The viewer can customize the captions in episodes or movies with styles and fonts that are more conducive to their hearing and/or visual impairment.

The Touch surface on the Siri Remote is customizable. Tracking when setting to Fast adjusts the thumb movements made to amplify the distance in relation to how far the thumb has moved on the glass touchpad. Conversely when tracking is set to slow, larger movements of the thumb on the touchpad will tune down the distance that is traversed on the screen. This can be of great help to those struggling with Parkinson's or other movement disorders to be able to use the Apple TV in a way that fits their disability.

Apple's Remote app on iOS devices allows control of the Apple TV from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The iOS remote app increases the accessibility of the Apple TV by enabling Switch Control. Switch Control is a unique Apple technology that enables navigation sequentially through onscreen items and perform specific actions such as selecting, tapping, dragging, typing using third party Bluetooth-enabled switch hardware made for those with handicaps.


Similar to Google's redesign of YouTube, Apple has restricted access to most viewed charts on movies and podcasts. They are replaced by "Top Movies", "Top Podcasts", and "Editor's Picks".[51] Users may be under the mistaken impression that "Top" items are the most popular or most watched.

Parental controls allow consumers to limit access to Internet media service content via "Restrictions" settings; individual services can be turned off (e.g., to reduce clutter), icons can be rearranged via the tap-and-hold technique à la iOS. Internet media is split into four categories: "Internet Photos", "YouTube", "Podcasts", and "Purchase and Rental". Each of the categories is configured by a parental control of "Show", "Hide" or "Ask" to prompt for a 4-digit PIN. In addition, movies, TV shows, music and podcasts can be restricted by rating.[52]

Local sources

Apple TV can sync or stream photos, music and videos from a computer running iTunes.[53]

A user can connect a computer on a local network to maintain a central home media library of digitized CD, DVD or HD content,[54] provide direct connectivity to photo organization software such as iPhoto,[55] limit home video access to a local network only,[56] play Internet radio,[57][58] or preload content on Apple TV to be used later as a non-networked video player.[59] For users who wish to connect the Apple TV to a computer, synchronization and streaming modes are supported.[53]

Apple TV in synchronization mode works in a way similar to the iPod. It is paired with an iTunes library on a single computer and can synchronize with that library, copying all or selected content to its own storage. Apple TV need not remain connected to the network after syncing.[59][60] Photos can be synced from iPhoto, Aperture, or from a folder on a Mac, or Adobe Photoshop Album, Photoshop Elements, or from a hard disk folder in Windows.[61]

Apple TV can also function as a peer-to-peer digital media player, streaming content from iTunes libraries and playing the content over the network.[62][63]

1st generation Apple TVs can stream content from up to five computers or iTunes libraries. Also, five Apple TVs can be linked to the same iTunes library. The 2nd generation Apple TV onwards allows users to stream content from more than one iTunes library: these additional iTunes libraries can be on the same or on different computers. This is possible when Apple TV and every iTunes library from which you want to stream content meet all of the following conditions: (1) the Apple TV and the iTunes library you are streaming from are both on the same local network, (2) each uses the iTunes "Home Sharing" feature, and (3) each are using the same "Home Sharing" Apple ID.

Supported formats

Apple TV natively supports the following audio, video, and picture formats (although with the 4th generation, apps may use alternative built-in software in order to play other codecs and formats, e.g. VLC media player):

Attempts to sync unsupported content to Apple TV will draw an error message from iTunes.[70]

The 1st and 2nd generation Apple TV video output can be set to either 1080i or 1080p; however, this resolution is limited to the user interface and the viewing of photographs – all other content is simply upscaled to those resolutions. Those models cannot play 1080i or 1080p video content (e.g., HD camera video).[62][63][71][72][73] The 3rd and 4th generation Apple TV support 1080p video content.

Apple offers H.264 1080p movies and video podcasts on iTunes.[74] In comparison, Blu-ray Disc films are 1080p H.264 or VC-1 video encoded at rates of up to 40 Mbit/s.[75]

Apple TV's audio chip supports 7.1 surround sound,[76] and some high definition rentals from iTunes are offered with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.[77]

There is an Apple TV export option in QuickTime which allows content in some formats that the device does not support to be easily re-encoded.[78] Applications that use QuickTime to export media can use this; e.g., iMovie's Share menu,[79] iTunes' advanced menu,[80] and some third-party content conversion tools.[81]


Apple TV streams video through an HDMI cable (Type A) connected to the TV's HDMI port. Audio is supported through the optical or HDMI ports. The device also has a Micro-USB port, which is reserved for service and diagnostics. The device connects through Ethernet or Wi-Fi to the computer for digital content from the Internet and local networks. Apple TV does not come with audio, video or other cables, which must be acquired additionally as required.[82] On the previous Apple TV, media files could be transferred directly onto the device by syncing with another computer. Once content was stored on the device's hard drive, Internet connectivity was no longer needed to view content.[59] This is not the case with the current model, which does not have a hard drive for storing media.

The 1st generation Apple TV had component video and RCA connector audio ports, both removed in the 2nd generation. The device does not have RCA/composite video or F/RF connectors.[63][83]

Starting with the 4th generation Apple TV, Apple removed the optical audio port. Apple also enhanced the HDMI port by adding support for HDMI 1.4. The 4th generation also removed the Micro-USB port in favor of the reversible USB-C port and the 5th generation removed USB entirely.


AirPlay allows iOS devices or an AirPort-enabled computer with the iTunes music player to send a stream of music to multiple (three to six, in typical conditions) stereos connected to an AirPort Express (the audio-only antecedent of Apple TV) or Apple TV.[84]

The AirPort Express' streaming media capabilities use Apple's Remote Audio Output Protocol (RAOP), a proprietary variant of RTSP/RTP. Using WDS-bridging,[85] the AirPort Express can allow AirPlay functionality (as well as Internet access, file and print sharing, etc.) across a larger distance in a mixed environment of wired and up to 10 wireless clients.

Speakers attached to an AirPort Express or Apple TV can be selected from within the "Remote" iPhone/iPod Touch program, allowing full AirPlay compatibility[86] (see "Remote control" section below).

A compatible Mac running OS X Mountain Lion or later can wirelessly mirror its screen to an Apple TV through AirPlay Mirroring[87][88] while one running OS X Mavericks or later can also extend its display with AirPlay Display.

Remote control

Apple TV can be controlled by many infrared remote controls[89] or paired with the included Apple Remote to prevent interference from other remotes.[62][90][91] Either kind of remote can control playback volume, but for music only.[17][92][93]

The Apple Wireless Keyboard is supported on the 2nd generation Apple TV and later using the built-in Bluetooth.[94] The consumer has the ability to control media playback, navigate menus and input text and other information. Third-party keyboards that use the Apple layout may also be compatible.[94]

On July 10, 2008, Apple released Remote, a free iOS application that allows the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad to control the iTunes library on the Apple TV via Wi-Fi.[95][96] The recently released Apple Watch also has a remote app to control Apple TV.[97]

The Remote App was updated on September 13, 2016[98], to take advantage of all the features of the Apple TV 4. This includes Siri, Touchpad, and Home Buttons, along with a now playing screen.

On September 9, 2015, Apple announced the new Siri Remote for the 4th generation Apple TV (although in some territories, Apple have kept the name Apple TV Remote, due to Siri functionality not being enabled on it in that territory).[99] It is a completely redesigned remote that features dual microphones for Siri support and a glass touch surface for navigation around the interface by swiping or tapping and scrubbing to fast forward or rewind. Also, it has a menu and home button, a Siri button to invoke Siri, a Play/Pause button, and a Volume Up/Down button to control the volume on the TV. The Siri Remote will communicate with the Apple TV via Bluetooth rather than infrared, removing the requirement of a line-of-sight with the device. This new remote is only supported by the 4th generation Apple TV and later and will not work with earlier generations.


Beginning with the 4th generation Apple TV, the remote includes two microphones and a button to activate Siri. Siri on the Apple TV has all of the functions of Siri on iOS 9; it can also respond to requests specifically for the TV[100]. For instance, the viewer can ask Siri to search for a TV show or movie and it will search across multiple different sources to tell the user where the content is available to watch. It can also do things such as Play/Pause[101], Rewind/Fast Forward, skip back 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captioning when asked "what did he say?" or "what did she say?", open a specific app, and more.


1st generation

The original Apple TV ran a modified build of Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger[102]

Apple TV Software 1.0

Apple TV software 1.0 presented the user with an interface similar to that of Front Row. Like Front Row on the Mac, it presents the user with seven options for consuming content. Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, Photos, Settings, and Sources. It was a modified version of OS x v10.4 Tiger.[103]

Apple TV Software 2.0

In February 2008, Apple released a major and free upgrade to the Apple TV, labelled "Take Two"(2.0). This update did away with Front Row and introduced a new interface in which content was organized into six categories, all of which appeared in a large square box on the screen upon startup (movies, TV shows, music, YouTube, podcasts, and photos) and presented in the initial menu, along with a "Settings" option for configuration, including software updates.[18][19]

Apple TV Software 3.0

In October 2009, Apple released a minor upgrade for the Apple TV called "Apple TV Software 3.0".[104] This update replaced the interface in version 2.0 with a new interface which presented seven horizontal columns across the top of the screen for the different categories of content (Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, Photos, Internet, and Settings).[105] This update also added features such as content filtering, iTunes Extras, new fonts, and a new Internet radio app. The maximum resolution increased in both the 40 GB and 160 GB version to include 1080P.

One new feature in particular was the 'Genius' playlist option allowing for easier and more user friendly playlist creating[106]

2nd and 3rd generation

The 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs run a version of iOS, rather than the modified Mac OS X of the original model.

The interface on Apple TV Software 4 is similar to that of previous versions, with only minor changes and feature additions throughout. In March 2012, Apple released a major new software update, with the Apple TV 3rd generation, labeled as Apple TV Software 5 (iOS 5.1), which shipped with the new 3rd generation Apple TV. This update completely revised the look of the home screen to make it resemble the icon grid seen on iOS. Instead of 7 columns, content and third-party channels are shown in a tiled grid format, which can be rearranged. Throughout the years, for Apple TV Software 5-6, Apple released minor revisions, content additions, and feature updates.

The Apple TV Software 7.0 features a flat look similar to iOS 7 and OS X Yosemite and adds features such as Peer-To-Peer AirPlay.[107]. Version 8.0 was skipped.

The final OS update for the third-generation Apple TV is Apple TV Software 7.2.2 (iOS 8.4.2) since it does not support tvOS 9.0 or later. However, it does support Amazon Video, which was automatically added to those Apple TVs running 7.2.2 on December 6, 2017.[30]

4th and 5th generation

The fourth generation Apple TV and later run an operating system called tvOS[108] which does not support the earlier generations of Apple TV. It features an app store, allowing third-party app developers to release their own apps on the platform.[109] Also, this new software features support for Siri voice control. Craig Federighi mentioned that tvOS is based 95% on iOS 9 and the rest being adaptions to optimize it for the TV. The tvOS software development kit (SDK) for developing tvOS apps is included in Xcode 7.1 and later.[110] A new development feature, App Thinning[111], is used in the Apple TV, running on tvOS, due to the storage restrictions of the device (32GB and 64GB) and the dual-use of the NAND Flash Memory to precache movies from Apple's content servers as well as storage for downloaded applications from the tvOS App Store. Apple's aim is to limit the size of application downloads and steering users towards downloading individual segments of apps in order to better manage storage space. Developers have reacted with criticism towards the download size limits, arguing that it leads to situations where game data is purged and has to be re-downloaded.[112]

Technical specifications

Obsolete Discontinued Current
Models 1st generation 2nd generation 3rd generation 3rd generation Rev. A 4th generation 4K (5th generation)
Release date(s) January 9, 2007 September 1, 2010 March 7, 2012 January 28, 2013 October 30, 2015 September 22, 2017
Discontinued September 1, 2010 March 7, 2012 March 10, 2013[113] September 8, 2016 64 GB: September 12, 2017
32 GB: In production
In production
Model number - Model ID -
Order number
A1218 - AppleTV1,1 -
A1378 - AppleTV2,1 -
A1427 - AppleTV3,1 -
A1469 - AppleTV3,2 -
A1625 - AppleTV5,3 -
MGY52LL/A for 32 GB models
MLNC2LL/A for 64 GB models
A1842 - AppleTV6,2 -
MQD22LL/A3 for 32 GB models
MP7P2LL/A for 64 GB models
Processor 1 GHz Intel "Crofton" Pentium M[114] 1 GHz Apple A4 (ARM Cortex-A8) 1 GHz Apple A5 (single core ARM Cortex-A9, dual core with one core locked) 1 GHz Apple A5 (ARM Cortex-A9, single core - redesign from A5 dual core). 1.5 GHz dual-core Apple A8 2.38 GHz hexa-core Apple A10X Fusion
Graphics Nvidia GeForce Go 7300 with 64 MB of VRAM[115] Apple A4 (PowerVR SGX535) Apple A5 (PowerVR SGX543MP2) Apple A5 (PowerVR SGX543MP1) Apple A8 (PowerVR Series 6XT GX6450) Apple A10X Fusion
Memory 256 MB of 400 MHz DDR2 SDRAM[116] 256 MB LPDDR2[117] 512 MB LPDDR2[118] 2 GB LPDDR3[119][120] 3 GB LPDDR4[121]
Storage 40 or 160 GB integral HDD 8 GB NAND flash for cache[118][122] 32 or 64 GB NAND flash
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g and draft-n) Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
10/100 Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Output 1080p (undefined, following the Version 3.0 software update), 720p 60/50 Hz (NTSC/PAL), 576p 50 Hz (PAL), 480p 60 Hz (NTSC)[124]
over HDMI (HDCP capable) or Component Video (480i 60 Hz is unofficially supported)
720p, 576p, 480p
over HDMI only (HDCP capable)
1080p, 720p, 576p, 480p
over HDMI only (HDCP capable)
2160p, 1080p, 720p, 576p, 480p
over HDMI only (HDCP capable) with HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Optical audio (48 kHz maximum sample rate), HDMI, RCA analog stereo audio Optical audio (48 kHz fixed sample rate), HDMI HDMI-CEC
Supports output up to 5.1 channels Supports output up to 7.1 channels
Power Built-in universal 48 W power supply Built-in universal 6 W power supply Built-in universal 11 W power supply[125] Built-in universal 13 W power supply[121]
Dimensions 1.1 in (28 mm) (h)
7.7 in (197 mm) (w)
7.7 in (197 mm) (d)
0.9 in (23 mm) (h)
3.9 in (98 mm) (w)
3.9 in (98 mm) (d)
1.4 in (35 mm) (h)
3.9 in (98 mm) (w)
3.9 in (98 mm) (d)
Weight 2.4 lb (1.09 kg) 9.2 oz (270 g) 15 oz (425 g)
Initial operating system Apple TV Software 1.0 (modified build of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger) Apple TV Software 4.0 (based on iOS 4.1) Apple TV Software 5.0 (based on iOS 5.1) Apple TV Software 5.2[126] (based on iOS 6.1) tvOS 9.0[127] (based on iOS 9)[128] tvOS 11.0 (based on iOS 11)
Current operating system Apple TV Software 3.0.2 (modified build of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger) Apple TV Software 6.2.1 (based on iOS 7.1.2) Apple TV Software 7.2.2 (based on iOS 8.4.2)[129] tvOS 11.4 (based on iOS 11.4)



Apple TV contains neither a TV tuner nor a personal video recorder.[62][70] Both capabilities can be applied to the connected home computer through various third-party products, such as allowing PVR software to connect to iTunes and enable scheduled HDTV recordings to play automatically via Apple TV for playback.[130]

The Front Row interface lacks some iTunes functionality, including rating items, checking the account balance, adding funds to the account, synchronizing from more than one computer,[131] full Internet radio support,[63][132] and games.[133]

The Movies search box only searches the iTunes Store, not local hard drives and networks.[134]

Movies rented on Apple TV must be watched on Apple TV, unlike iTunes rentals, which can be transferred to any video-enabled iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV.[135][136] Movies purchased on Apple TV can be moved to a video-enabled iPod or iPhone via iTunes.[137]

Apple TV prior to 4th generation does not support the HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI CEC) protocol.

On the Apple TV (2nd generation), digital output audio is up-sampled to 48 kHz, including lossless CD rips at 44.1 kHz. Although this is a higher frequency and the difference is not audible in most cases, it means the audio is not 'bit perfect' which is often a goal for digital transmission of data.[138]


1st generation sales

Within the first week of presales in January 2007, Apple TV was the top pre-selling item at the Apple Store.[139] Orders exceeded 100,000 units by the end of January and Apple began ramping-up to sell over a million units before the 2007 holiday season.[140] Analysts began calling it a "DVD killer"[141] that could enable multiple services. Analysts also predicted that Apple could sell up to 1.5 million units in the first year.[142] Besides the Apple Store, Best Buy was one of the first retailers to carry the device;[143] Target and Costco[144] followed shortly thereafter.

Two months into sales, Forrester Research predicted that Apple would only sell a million Apple TV units, because consumers prefer advertisement-supported content over paid content. Forrester predicted that cable companies would be the clear winners over content providers such as the iTunes Store.[145] Shortly after, Apple released YouTube functionality and Jobs stated that Apple TV was a "DVD player for the Internet". Some market analysts predicted that YouTube on Apple TV "provides a glimpse of this product's potential and its future evolution",[146] but overall, analysts had mixed reactions regarding the future of Apple TV. Some negative reactions followed after Jobs referred to the device as a "hobby", implying it was less significant than the Macintosh, iPod, and iPhone.[147]

In the fourth quarter of 2008, sales were triple that of the fourth quarter of 2007.[148]

In Apple's first-quarter 2009 financial results conference call, acting chief executive Tim Cook stated that Apple TV sales increased three times over the same quarter a year ago. Cook mentioned that the movie rental business was working well for Apple, Apple would continue investment in movie rentals and Apple TV, but Apple TV is still considered a hobby for the company.[148] Due to the growth of digital TV and consumers turning to Internet media services, an analyst predicted sales of 6.6 million Apple TVs by the end of 2009.[149]

2nd generation sales

The second generation sold 250,000 units in the first two weeks it was available. On December 21, 2010, Apple announced that they had sold 1 million units.[150] In the second fiscal quarter of 2011, it had topped 2 million in total sales, with 820,000 sold in that quarter alone.[151]

On January 24, 2012, Apple announced they had sold 1.4 million units in the first fiscal quarter of 2012,[152] and 2.8 million units in all of fiscal year 2011.[153] (4.2 million units through January 1, 2012).

3rd generation sales

Tim Cook revealed at the All Things Digital conference in May 2012 that Apple had sold 2.7 million of the 3rd generation model in 2012.[154]

In the Q4 FY2012 earnings call, Engadget reported comments from Tim Cook that Apple had shipped 1.3 million Apple TV units in the 4th Quarter (presumed to be 3rd generation).[155]

MacObserver reported statements by Tim Cook in the Q1 FY2013 earnings call that Apple sold over 2 million Apple TV units in the December Quarter (presumed to be 3rd generation).[156]

These reports lead to a cumulative volume of the 3rd generation device of 6 million units, as of January 1, 2013.

On February 28, 2014, at Apple's shareholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that in 2013 Apple TV brought in 1 billion dollars of revenue for Apple.[157]

A market survey published by Parks Associates in December 2014 found that Apple TV has lost consumer traction to Google Chromecast, garnering only a 17% market share.[158]

Tim Cook revealed at the Apple Watch conference on March 9, 2015, that Apple had sold a total of 25 million Apple TVs to date.[159]

4th generation sales

In the January 27, 2016, Apple earnings call, CEO Tim Cook stated that the Apple TV had record sales. However, no specific sales figures were mentioned; Apple TV is included in an "Other products" category, which also includes the Apple Watch, iPods, and Beats products, and is not broken down by individual products.[160]

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