Apple TV tvOS Simulator Shown Running in 4K Resolution

Developer Steve Troughton-Smith today shared the spoils of his latest hacking efforts by tweeting screenshots of Apple's tvOS Simulator running in 4K – the screen resolution said to be supported in a rumored fifth-generation Apple TV.

tvOS is officially made to run in the standard 1920x1080 HD resolution, but what Troughton-Smith's hack shows is that the Apple TV operating system is perfectly suited to running at double the pixel density (3840x2160), commonly referred to as 4K resolution, thanks to user interface assets like text and icons that are made to scale cleanly given the same aspect ratio.


The simple scale doubling is reminiscent of the 2x iOS asset resolution requirement that Apple introduced back in 2010 with the arrival of Retina displays, and comes at a time when Apple is rumored to be readying a new, fifth-generation Apple TV capable of streaming 4K video.

Just last weekend iOS developer Guilherme Rambo discovered a reference to a 4K HDR display mode in the HomePod's firmware, which has proved a trove of hints related to Apple's upcoming hardware releases. MacRumors subsequently discovered the string J105a in the HomePod firmware, consistent with the fifth-generation Apple TV's internal codename first revealed by Bloomberg in February. Additional strings unearthed in the code also suggest a forthcoming Apple TV could support both the Dolby Vision and HDR10 color formats for high-dynamic range video.

tvOS Simulator scaled to 2x resolution for 3840x2160

Adding further fuel to rumors of an imminent 4K-capable Apple TV, Apple recently listed selected movies as 4K and HDR in iTunes purchase history. While the content is still only playable in standard definition or HD, the change suggests Apple is preparing to offer the higher definition formats for a new TV box.

The launch date is unclear for a possible new Apple TV, which has been rumored since December 2015, but given the recent uptick in references to 4K resolution by Apple, it's not unreasonable to suggest the company could be readying a release for the new TV box before the end of the year.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tag: 4K
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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HomePod Firmware Possibly Reveals Apple Watch With LTE and 4K Apple TV With HDR10 and Dolby Vision

iOS developer Guilherme Rambo‏ has discovered a reference to a 4K HDR display mode in the HomePod's firmware, lending credence to rumors of Apple testing a fifth-generation Apple TV capable of streaming 4K resolution video.


HomePod doesn't have a display, and iOS devices lack the resolution for native 4K playback, so the discovery likely pertains to the Apple TV.

Rambo also discovered strings kCADisplayModeDolby and kCADisplayModeHDR10, suggesting that a 4K Apple TV could support both the Dolby Vision and HDR10 color formats for high-dynamic-range video.


Apple has also listed select movies as 4K and HDR in iTunes purchase history, at least in Canada and the United Kingdom. The content is still only playable in standard definition or HD, which varies from 720p to 1080p, but Apple could be preparing to offer iTunes content in 4K HDR for its new Apple TV.

Another developer Jeffrey Grossman‏ also spotted a possible reference to an Apple Watch with LTE support. The string, which refers to GizmoPreservingeSIM, lends credence to a report yesterday that claimed Apple Watch Series 3 models will feature cellular connectivity for use without a paired iPhone.


The relevant bit of that string is the mention of a SIM, as the Apple Watch Series 3 would presumably have an embedded SIM card if it had cellular connectivity. Another string mentions GizmoRadioBundleIdentifier, which could refer to the Apple Watch Series 3's cellular radio, reportedly to be supplied by Intel.

For those unaware, in 2015, The New York Times reported the Apple Watch was codenamed Gizmo internally.
Inside Apple, members of the team that worked on the watch product, code-named Gizmo, say it was a difficult engineering challenge.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving


Last week, Apple seeded an over-the-air firmware file for the HomePod, revealing that it will run a slightly modified version of iOS. The pre-release software is said to correspond with iOS 11.0.2, and it contains references to several unreleased features that would normally be redacted before a public release.


The firmware contains a payload that can be unpacked into a filesystem using a few developer tools, giving anyone skilled enough the ability to search through thousands of strings in the software using Terminal commands and disassembly apps like Hopper. For the past eight days, that's exactly what's happened.

Since the HomePod firmware is based on a full iOS stack, many discoveries have been made not only about the smart speaker, but also potentially about the so-called iPhone 8, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

Thanks to the HomePod firmware, we know that that the iPhone 8's front camera may record 4K video at 60 FPS, and that its infrared facial recognition capabilities may work with Apple Pay. The firmware also revealed a glyph of an iPhone 8 with a full-front display with a notch at the top for the earpiece and sensors.

As for the HomePod itself, it's been discovered that the smart speaker's multi-color LED waveform visible when interacting with Siri measures in at 272×340 pixels. HomePod also appears to have 1GB of RAM, and some of the speaker's sound effects were found buried in the firmware.

HomePod doesn't launch until December, so the firmware was likely released by accident, under the identifier AudioAccessory1,1.


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Apple Listing Select Movies as 4K and HDR in iTunes Purchase History

MacRumors reader Tomas Jackson has discovered that Apple is listing select movies as 4K and HDR in iTunes purchase history.


In a discussion topic on the MacRumors forums, Jackson shared a screenshot of his iTunes purchase history with the 2016 film Passengers listed as "4K, HDR" in brackets. However, he said iTunes only presents the option to download the movie in HD quality, which is either 720p or 1080p depending on the content.


Another reader mentioned that the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is also listed as 4K and HDR. MacRumors rented the film to check, and we can confirm the film indeed has "4K, HDR" next to it in our iTunes purchase history. Nevertheless, iTunes lists the movie's video quality as 720p.

Not all movies are listed as 4K and HDR yet, and content is still in SD or HD for now, but this discovery may foreshadow what's to come.


In February, Bloomberg reported Apple was testing a new, fifth-generation Apple TV capable of streaming 4K video, adding that it may be released as soon as this year. The report also said the new Apple TV, allegedly codenamed "J105" internally, would display more vivid colors, suggesting HDR support.

A month later, developer Firi Games provided MacRumors with evidence of a device identified as "AppleTV6,2" and running "tvOS 11.0" connecting to its arcade game Phoenix HD for Apple TV in its logs. The IP address fell within a range linked to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California.

The current Apple TV has a model identifier of AppleTV5,3, and Apple TV6,2 does not correspond with any released model.

It's conceivable that Apple could launch 4K content in iTunes alongside a new Apple TV with support for up to 4K video output and HDR, or high dynamic range, which allows for sharper colors and lighting. The current, fourth-generation Apple TV has a maximum 1080p video output, and no support for HDR.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tags: 4K, HDR
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Safari Users Unable to Play Newer 4K Video on YouTube in Native Resolution

Reddit users have recently discovered that YouTube refuses to stream newly uploaded 4K video in its native resolution if the website is accessed through Safari web browser.

The issue was first raised almost a month ago by Reddit user GezimS, who wondered why the option to view 4K videos in 2160p was no longer available.

YouTube 4K
Other users soon chimed in to confirm the anomaly, noting that it only seemed to occur in recently uploaded 4K video and that accessing the same content in Chrome or Firefox still offered up the preferred 2160p resolution as a viewing option.

After some digging, user themcfly recently discovered that the issue is being caused by a change to the way YouTube encodes video and serves it through its website.

Specifically, YouTube appears to be storing video on its servers using either the more efficient VP9 codec or the older H.264 codec. Safari only supports the latter, which explains why recently uploaded 4K videos are only able to be viewed in up to 1440p.

Funnily enough, the same videos can be streamed by Safari in native 4K as long as they're embedded in another website, suggesting that the VP9 codec support requirement only applies to videos viewed directly on YouTube's website.

Until Apple updates Safari to support the VP9 codec, Mac users who want to access newer 4K video on YouTube in native 2160p resolution are advised to use a different browser.

Tags: YouTube, Safari, 4K

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YouTube Adds 4K Live Streaming Support to its Content Infrastructure

YouTube has announced it now supports 4K live streaming at 60 frames per second, enabling content creators to live broadcast both 360-degree and standard video in the high resolution standard.

Viewers with screens equipped to take advantage of the resolution shouldn't have to wait long to tune in to regularly streamed 4K broadcasts. YouTube said the first event to be live streamed in 4K will be the Game Awards, which takes place today at 9pm EST (6pm PST).

youtube logo
For creators this means the ability to take advantage of an incredibly clear picture for recorded and now streaming video. It’s the kind of thing that can help to push their hardware (and their talent) to create the most beautiful or just plain crazy-looking images and videos possible. And with 360 4K live streams, the sky is (literally) the limit. Get ready for 360 concert and event streams that look sharper, cleaner, and brighter than ever before.
4K video uploading has been supported on YouTube since 2010, but the high resolution content has only gained steam more recently as the technology gradually approaches the mainstream. Today's upgrade to the Google-owned service also potentially opens the door to 4K live streamed events like sports and concerts being included in YouTube's forthcoming "Unplugged" web-based TV streaming service, which is close to being finalized.

Unplugged is said to include a "skinny bundle" of channels from the four major U.S. networks, along with a few popular cable channels priced at around $35 per month. YouTube has been in talks with major media companies like 21st Century Fox and Disney, and signed up CBS to be included in the subscription package in October.

Last month also saw Google debut the Chromecast Ultra, a 4K version of its popular streaming device. Set to be released this December, the Ultra can stream 4K content from YouTube, Netflix, and Vudu, and 4K movies from Google Play Movies.

The latest announcement offers another sign that Google is pulling ahead of Apple in the race to offer a high-resolution streaming television service. Apple's plans to offer a TV package subscription service of any sort have stalled in recent years because of its "hard-nosed" negotiation tactics with content providers and an inability to allay fears about the interruption of traditional revenue streams.

As for 4K, the latest Apple TV does not support the UltraHD resolution and iTunes has yet to offer the content.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tags: Google, YouTube, 4K
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution)

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