Apple tvOS Simulator Shows Off Apple TV Running In 4K Resolution

by on August 8, 2017

Stephan Jukic – August 8, 2017

Amidst swirling and increasingly compelling rumors of a 4K UHD HDR version of the Apple TV set-top box coming out soon, one particular programmer by the name of Steve Troughton-Smith decided to get ahead of any formal, official technology releases by screwing around with the tvOS simulator and forcing it to run at twice 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080p) and thus reach commercial 4K ultra HD (3840 X 2160p).

Almost needless to say, we’re talking about nothing more than one specific Apple developer’s simulation of something we could see before the year 2017 ends. Apple itself has made no formal statements about the development of a 4K Apple TV box at any point so far.

As for Troughton-Smith’s simulation, well it seems that tvOS in its current version is quite capable of being forced into running at this unsupported resolution (this was a hack after all). Text, app icons, system visuals and other assets in the platform scaled cleanly to Ultra HD with the programmer’s hack and here are some screen-shots that demonstrate the technical details:

This is a very basic simulation without changes to aspect ratio. The augmented resolution is in fact just an integer scaling in which existing apps would be able to run on a 4K version of Apple TV without layout changes, as long as system controls and text rendering are automatically upgraded to run with the extra pixels. Things like app icons and apps which use custom drawings would require additional hacking to look good in the 4K version of tvOS.

Rumors and even leaks about a 4K Apple TV are nothing new in the world of Apple watching. The set-top box was essentially out of date right after its 2015 release with competing set-top streaming media boxes already offering 4K content and resolution support. In 2016 and early 2017, with the release of revamped and even better 4K UHD streaming media boxes with HDR graphics enhancement support for all the new releases of 4K HDR TVs being bought by consumers, Apple TV became even more stupidly, absurdly obsolete for a company that supposedly prides itself on being “cutting edge”. Thus, many tech watchers were definitely puzzled by Apple’s silence on this issue throughout last year and this year, and 2016 was a year in which speculative rumors of a 4K version coming out were particularly rampant.

Now however, some more concrete material has emerged to fuel the idea that Apple is finally going to see the light. Last weekend, and iOS developer from Brazil named Guilherme Rambo tweeted screenshots of code he’d found inside a recent update for Apple’s HomePod software in which references to 4K resolution, HDR, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR formats were found.

In addition to this, Apple has recently listed certain movie in iTunes purchase histories as being 4K and HDR-capable, even though iTunes and any other Apple platforms show no support at all for 4K to purchasing users.

We’ll have to see what Apple itself says, and a likely time for some kind of statement will be the media event that Apple is expected to hold in late 2017 for their iPhone lineup. This normally falls in September. The timing of these little “leaks” is rather funny considering.

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