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Apple TV 4K: All the big upgrades coming to the new streaming box

The new Apple TV 4K box with a redesigned Siri remote is now available for preorder.

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A lot of changes are coming to the Apple TV 4K streaming box.

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

It may have taken nearly three years, but Apple is finally giving the Apple TV 4K an upgrade, which it announced at Apple's Spring Loaded event. The new streaming box costs $179 (£169, AU$249) with 32GB storage or $199 (£189, AU$279) with 64GB and boasts the company's A12 Bionic processor. It's better suited for modern home theaters and handling Apple's latest services, particularly its Apple TV Plus streaming video platform and Apple Arcade

High frame rates are now supported, and AirPlay has been updated to support high-frame-rate HDR. A color balance feature will pair the new Apple TV with your iPhone to use the sensors in your phone to fine-tune the TV picture.

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The new Apple TV 4K remote. 

Apple/Screenshot by Eli Blumenthal/CNET

While the box's design is similar to the previous version, the new Apple TV 4K also gets a new remote featuring a directional pad at the top (with gesture support), a Siri toggle on the side and a power button for controlling your TV. Preorders start on April 30, and the device will ship in the "second half of May." 

If you have an original Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD you'll be able to buy the new remote as a separate add-on for $59, though it similarly won't be available to preorder until April 30 and won't ship until May. 

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The old Apple TV 4K was introduced in September 2017 but has remained the company's go-to streaming device despite running a much older A10X processor. Like that model, the new Apple TV 4K can use higher-end technologies like Dolby Vision for picture and Dolby Atmos for sound, so long as you are streaming the proper content and have the box connected to a compatible TV, speaker or home theater setup. 

Apple's latest TVOS software, which was announced at WWDC in June 2020, runs the show. It features support for 4K AirPlay streaming, picture-in-picture for video apps and camera integration from HomeKit-supported smart video cameras and doorbells. Apple Arcade, the company's video game subscription service, can also now support multiple Apple TV profiles and can be paired with the Xbox Elite Series 2 and Xbox Adaptive controllers, as well as the latest remotes for the Xbox Series X and the DualSense controller for the PlayStation 5.

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The new box comes amid increased competition in the fields of media streamers and smart TVs, with Roku and Amazon making up the lion's share of the market with their respective platforms, Roku and Fire TV. 

Google, which has its own rival smart TV options in Android TV and Google TV, sells its own $50 dongle, the Chromecast with Google TV.