Apple TV 4K HDR confirmed in iOS 11 code

The 4K Apple TV with HDR has apparently been unofficially confirmed, as the inadvertently-released HomePod firmware proves to be the gift that keeps on giving. Accidentally released to developers at large, rather than just early testers for the Siri-powered streaming speaker, the iOS 11.0.2 build has already been responsible for revealing plenty of iPhone 8 secrets. Now, it's spilling Apple TV tidbits too.

The news comes courtesy of developer Guilherme Rambo, who spotted mention of the new, unannounced Apple TV version within the code. There, there is a mention of a "4kHDR" DisplayMode, which indicates the current box will be superseded with a version that can handle the 3840 x 2160 of Ultra HD. Rambo shared the news on Twitter on Saturday.

The existence of a 4K version of the Apple TV doesn't exactly come as a great surprise. Even if such a set-top box upgrade hadn't been rumored for some time now, Apple could hardly have sat idle with its current 1080p model, given Amazon's Fire TV and other streaming boxes have embraced Ultra HD. However, the iOS beta doesn't stop there with its revelations.

Asked whether the 4K Apple TV would support HDR10 or Dolby Vision, two of the competing standards for high dynamic range (HDR) video in which contrast, brightness, and colors are improved for greater visibility, Rambo revealed that both, indeed, should be available. There's mention in the code of both a Dolby DisplayMode and an HDR10 DisplayMode, which suggests the Apple TV 4K will be able to handle content using either. Of course, you'll need a compatible TV in order to actually view the results, but if you've bought into the iTunes ecosystem for rentals and purchases, this could be a good motivator to finally upgrade.

Previously, we'd heard from iTunes customers who had spotted 4K versions of content apparently available to watch, despite the fact that the current Apple TV can't handle such a resolution. Before that, sources claimed that a new model – codenamed J101 – would likely be launched sometime in 2017.

Although Apple eventually pulled the HomePod firmware, the damage was already done. Because of it, we've seen details on the new face unlock system Apple will apparently use on the iPhone 8 instead of Touch ID, and even seen the Cupertino company's own graphics for the upcoming flagship smartphone, complete with its notched OLED display. The details haven't stopped there, indeed, with plenty of information Apple would likely have preferred to keep quiet being spilled by eager developers as they sift through the code.

Of course, what remains to be seen – and what the code can't tell us – is when the Apple TV 4K model might be announced. Since it's apparently reliant on iOS 11, which won't drop until the new iPhones are launched, that likely puts it somewhere in September at the earliest. Apple could opt to have it share the stage with the iPhone 8, just as the fourth-generation Apple TV – which added the Siri Remote – was unveiled in September 2015 at the iPhone event that year.