It looks as though the Apple TV 4K is getting another refresh, with one of the top analysts in the business predicting that a cheaper model will see the light of day in the second half of 2022 – though it's not clear exactly what it will look like.
This comes from Ming-Chi Kuo, who is usually spot on when it comes to Apple leaks. Apple's media streaming device last got an update in April 2021, when it got a faster processor and a redesigned remote control.
It's possible that the new box will replace the Apple TV HD that launched in 2015 and which is still on sale – that retails for $149 / £139 / AU$209 at the time of writing, compared to a starting price of $179 / £169 / AU$249 for the Apple TV 4K.
Apple will launch a new version of Apple TV that improves cost structure in 2H22. I think that Apple’s aggressive strategy of integrating hardware, content, and service amid the recession will help close the gap with its competitors.May 13, 2022
The next Apple TV
Kuo doesn't offer any details about the next device, only saying that it will appear in the second half of this year and that it will improve “cost structure” – so it's possible that we'll get a smaller streaming stick like the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
We're assuming that it's going to support 4K resolutions – what with it being 2022 and everything – and it seems a given that all the usual Apple technologies will be built in, including AirPlay for beaming content over from an iPhone or a Mac.
The Kuo tweet does mention Apple's renewed focus on content and services, and whatever new piece of hardware we get will of course be used to push Apple TV Plus out to more subscribers (and may well come with a free trial of the service).
Analysis: Apple needs an inexpensive streamer
You don't have to look far to find an inexpensive streaming gadget that you can plug into the back of your television set, whether it's the $49.99 / £59.99 / AU$99 Chromecast with Google TV, anything made by Roku, or the Amazon stick we mentioned earlier.
These devices bring services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Spotify and much more right to the biggest screen in your home. What's more, a lot of modern day TVs now have these services built right in.
That's something of a problem for Apple: while the Apple TV 4K brings with it plenty of extras (including tight integration with other Apple services like Apple Arcade), it's relatively expensive compared to the competing hardware that's out there.
This is where a new Apple TV 4K HDMI stick (or whatever it ends up being) will come in – everything you've come to expect from a device running the tvOS software, but in a smaller and cheaper form factor, which should end up being a winner for Apple.