Apple might be working on adding 4K and HDR content to iTunes, as spotted by users at MacRumors Forums. The listing was found in iTunes purchase history where Apple lists the type of content. Passengers was one of the movies listed as a 4K, HDR type. This will be a huge and much awaited move as Apple have taken a long time to upgrade their content catalogue from 1080p to 4K. Most video streaming services, both paid and free, have started offering 4K and HDR content. Netflix and Amazon Prime offer 4K and HDR content for compatible TVs and devices while YouTube’s paid video service also supports video streaming for TV shows and Movies in 4K/UHD. So far, Apple has not made the jump. Apple announced support for HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) codec at WWDC 2017, for iOS 11, macOS High Sierra and tvOS 11. This codec provides improved video compression, with up to 50% savings in data as well as improved video quality, with support for 4K and HDR content. Adding support for 4K would mean that videos will playback at a resolution of 3840 pixels × 2160 pixels, and HDR will add support for improved lightening, vivid colors and sharper imagery. Both these features are heavily marketed and supported by manufacturers for most new TVs.
Some Apple products, like the iMac 5K, support more than the required 4K resolution and iPhones can capture 4K videos too. iPad Pro 10.5 inch model supports HDR playback. But Apple TV has support for neither so users who have 4K videos syncing via iCloud Photo Library cannot view content in its full quality on their TVs.
In 2012, when Apple upgraded resolution for iTunes video content, it was the jump from 720p to 1080p and accompanied by a new Apple TV (third generation) which also supported the 1080p output. Apple’s history of upgrading iTunes content indicates that a new Apple TV release might be on the horizon and might be announced by this September, along with the new iPhones. This should also give Apple TV sales a much needed boost as it is lagging behind competitors as per the latest market reports.