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The next Apple TV might go 8K

Apple TV 4K
(Image credit: iMore / Stephen Warwick)

The betas of iOS 16 and tvOS 16 appear to include references to the AV1 video codec that could pave the way for massive improvements in video streaming on Apple's platforms and even 8K quality. 

The references were brought to light this week by FlatPanelsHD but were actually first spotted by Neowin in June. In Apple's very own Core Media framework library (opens in new tab) there is a reference to the AV1 video codec. 

As today's report notes, AV1 is a video format used by streaming giants as a royalty-free alternative to HEVC used for streaming 4K and UHD Blu-Rays. However, thanks to the way it can efficiently stream video without affecting quality, it is also a great tool for the prospects of data-hungry 8K streaming. 

8K when?

The ramifications of this are multiple. This likely indicates that Apple is planning to activate AV1 codec support in its future software for devices like the iPhone 13, current Macs, iPads, and more. It will also possibly be made available as a software update for Apple's current range of TVs including the Apple TV 4K

Even if you don't have any of the tools to take advantage of 8K streaming, this could save users heaps of data and bandwidth when streaming current content thanks to AV1's aforementioned efficiency savings. 

It could also pave the way for 8K streaming in a device like a future Apple TV. The current TV does have HDMI 2.1 but isn't using all of its bandwidth. 

Apple is reportedly readying a new Apple TV powered by A14  for later this year, so it is indeed possible that this new TV could bring 8K to the party. At the very least AV1 support would improve current streaming across a bunch of services regardless of the resolution upgrade. It's likely Apple's current Apple TV wouldn't have the juice to do software-based decoding of AV1, which is needed because it doesn't support hardware decoding. 

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.