Beyond the exorbitant rates charged by Apple lies a treasure trove of innovation that more or less justifies their pricing. We’ve seen some brilliant innovation with the silicon Macs and iPhone 12 series and if things continue in the A14 Bionic route, we will continue to see this kind of justified spending on future gadgets as well. Apple puts millions into optimizations and upgrades that make their products foolproof while also staying strong in the face of heavy competition.
If the rumors and leaks that have been gaining traction over the last few days are legitimate, then Apple is seriously upgrading the Apple TV to offer 120Hz support to deliver a much more nuanced gaming experience. What are the implications of this upgrade? Let’s explore.
120Hz refresh rate on Apple TV: What is it?
— MacRumors.com (@MacRumors) April 6, 2021
The rumor mill is rife with speculation regarding the upcoming Apple TV’s ability to support 120Hz refresh rate. Currently, Apple TV provides 4K, however with only 60Hz refresh rate. It’s important to remember that this streaming device has not received an update since 2017 which is when the first version was released.
Apple, in typical Apple nature, future-proofed it to ensure that consumers get enough value for money while not needing to upgrade their streaming device for a decent amount of time. It’s 2021 now and an upgrade is definitely due for the Apple TV. But the manufacturer is not satisfied with just adding specs to make the streaming device better for streaming, they want to give it that oomph factor that will elevate the experience of owning an Apple device.
In the case of Apple TV, the hardware update in the form of a 2.1 HDMI cable and compatibility adjustments to Apple’s tvOS will not just enable the device to deliver better playback, but also improve the gaming experience that you get from games in Apple Arcade.
How gaming currently works on Apple TV works
But those who are familiar with Apple Arcade will question the need for 120Hz support in the first place. The games work just fine and frankly, they don’t really need the support provided by 120Hz. So why is Apple reinventing the wheel?
It’s interesting because when we delve into the answer, it becomes fairly clear that Apple is aiming to make Apple TV a console in its own right. While the idea of combining streaming and gaming into a cost-effective device is super efficient, it is also quite ambitious. Apple’s intentions to move beyond arcade games into the AAA gaming market will require an ingenious approach to both the hardware and software upgrades that Apple TV will receive.
Apple’s console aspirations for Apple TV
Apple is aware of how severely limited the games in the Apple Arcade roster are for Apple TV. There are no AAA games in the set despite Apple having the required technology like the A14 Bionic chip and Apple-designed ARM co-processors to give access to its users to heavy-duty games. Only the latest iPads, silicon Macs, and iPhones have both the hardware and software that make for a seamless Call of Duty or Legend of Zelda experience.
Of course, Apple could have made a disconcerted effort to create an entirely new console that would prioritize serious gaming over everything else. They still might make a move like that in the future, but for now, Apple has decided to turn the Apple TV into semi-console.
How the Apple TV will fare against Sony PS5 and Xbox Series X
We suspect that part of the reason why Apple is working on its tvOS is that with the right upgrades, Apple TV will be able to handle the load of select AAA games which Apple plans to introduce in Apple Arcade this year. So the possibility that it’s not about creating a console device that can handle all games but rather about creating a streaming device that can handle some decent games of Apple’s choosing is more likely.
After all, one cannot ignore the fact that the 3.200 TFLOPS of power that an upgraded Apple TV with the latest Apple tech will still not be able to compete with the 10.28 TFLOPS power of PS5 and 12 TFLOPS of Xbox series X. Besides, Apple must also gauge how its users respond to the games as well as the upgraded Apple TV to know if it’s worth pursuing their console aspirations. The brand is still very much away from being a device in consideration for serious gamers, let alone one that will be preferred over all else for intense gaming.
Of course, the one upper hand that Apple has over all the other consoles is its ability to provide cross-platform play among all devices in the ecosystem thanks to the use of a uniform code. While this is an issue that the other consoles grapple with, for Apple, if they are able to execute gaming on a 4K screen, then the cross-platform gaming issue will become their greatest asset when Apple gaming becomes a thing.
Beyond the commercialization and customer strong-arming is a powerful legacy created by Steve Jobs that continues to thrive. Apple may be pulling back the cables and stands that are provided as a given by other manufacturers, but there is a level of quality both in terms of hardware and software that make them powerful contenders and keeps the competition on its toes.
All speculation and opinions aside, there is no doubt that Apple is capable of keeping up regardless of whether a loyal customer base supports it. We look forward to how Apple TV with 4K and 120Hz gaming support will create a mark on the gaming ecosystem because there is no doubt that Apple is going to arrive all guns blazing.