Some Apple TV 4K users may be getting shortchanged on resolution from streaming apps

Posted:
in Genius Bar edited June 2
Some owners of the new Apple TV 4K are being told by third-party streaming apps that they are going to get HD video instead of 4K, and it isn't clear why.

Apple TV 4K with new Siri Remote
Apple TV 4K with new Siri Remote


Growing threads on Reddit and on the Apple Support forums are demonstrating that users are seeing A HD label, versus a 4K one, on content streamed from the Netflix app, and some others. However, that same content when available in Apple's TV app from the same service is being properly labeled as 4K content.

Specifically, Netflix is demonstrating the behavior for some, and so is HBO Max. Disney+ isn't transparent about content resolution as the other services are, so it isn't clear if this is happening there as well. Local streaming services like Plex and Infuse don't appear to be manifesting the problem either.

Further complicating the troubleshooting and identification of the problem, the Apple TV will upscale content to suit the output device's resolution. So, even if the television says that it is getting 4K, that doesn't mean that what's being streamed to the set-top box by the streaming service to the app is actually 4K video.

AppleInsider was not able to reproduce the bug locally, but we have spoken to a colleague that has. Even using the same examples as shown on an Apple support thread and in the extensive Reddit thread documenting the issue, content was shown as streaming to our Apple TV units purchased at retail in 4K. So, it isn't clear what percentage of users are seeing the problem.

The original Apple TV 4K isn't manifesting this issue at all, and the behavior reportedly persists in the tvOS 14.7 beta. In theory, this issue is some kind of bug in tvOS impacting some users but not all, a small batch of defective devices, or in some cases the Apple TV 4K isn't identifying itself properly to the streaming software applications.

At present, there no official response from Apple regarding the matter. Apple's online Customer service is having users swap out HDMI cables and perform a software reset, but neither seems to be fixing the problem. Apple also appears to be taking returns for users reporting the issue.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    mbenz1962mbenz1962 Posts: 157member
    I have been dealing with this issue since Monday.  I swapped in the new AppleTV 4K on my LG OLED for the previous gen on Friday, but I didn't notice the issue right away because I only watched AppleTV+, iTunes purchased content and Disney+ until Monday.  Monday evening I went to watch the last episode of "Jupiter's Legacy" on Netflix and one screen had some pretty obscure dialog.  I went to turn on the subtitles via the pull down menu so that I could play with the new "circular scrubbing" by rewinding and I saw that there was just an HD badge in the info pane instead of the Dolby Vision badge I was expecting.

    Since then I have played with all of the settings on the AppleTV to get this "fixed" but with no positive results.  I finally started testing a theory that the AppleTV is actually playing the 4K stream, just the badge isn't right because the stream still looked good to me and because the TV flashes up either the Dolby Vision or HDR label when the stream starts from Netflix or Prime even though the info pulldown only shows HD and no mention of HDR or DV.  Because the AppleTV upscales to 4K, my TV always reports 4K even if it is a title that is only available in 1080p.  So I switched the max resolution on the AppleTV to 1080p and when I did that the TV of course only reports 1080p, but the Netfilx app shows only an HD badge on the title page of a 4K title. When I switch the max resolution back to 4K the 4K label (or the Dolby Vision label) returns on the title page.  In both cases the info pull down in the player only displays the HD badge even though the played stream looks much better with the max resolution set to 4K. This of course could be because the AppleTV is no longer upscaling, so I tried to think of some other test.

    Then I had the idea of playing "The Expanse" and checking the TV info, because it is oddly enough filmed with HDR not Dolby Vision.  The TV will report the HDR profile for HDR, HDR10, and HDR10+ content. The TV reports that, even though the pull down info in the Prime app only displays HD, the stream is playing HDR with the bt.2020 profile.  This HDR profile is only applied to 4K or 8K streams. This makes me think that the Prime stream is actually 4K. Additionally, YouTube reports over its completely different info function that it is playing a 4K stream.

    I have a theory (a bit of a stretch perhaps) that this is just a labeling problem in the info pull down with apps that still use the "old" video API on the AppleTV.  The video player or API set has been updated to work in the new "circular scrubbing" gesture with the new AppleTV.  Netflix and Prime can use this new gesture, but they still use the old info pull down and so are somehow affected by this bug (partial use of the latest API set). The AppleTV player uses a new API set that has the info displayed at the bottom of the screen by pressing the back button. This player (AppleTV+ or purchased content) does not seem to be affected by the bug.  YouTube and Disney+ appear unaffected by this bug, but both use a completely different proprietary player that does not behave at all like the AppleTV+ player and also does not yet support the circular scrubbing.  

    Hopefully this is indeed just a software issue. Whether it be with Apple or some of the various streamers that need to update their apps to correct this issue.  This would be pretty bogus if it is a hardware failure that necessitates a replacement. My theory above may be a stretch and ultimately prove to be incorrect, but the testing and observed behavior may help other's see that the issue isn't something they can fix and so save them time.  Those affected will have to wait on more info from Apple (perhaps a software update) or an App update from affected streamers. 
    edited May 26 gregoriusmstarof80BeatsScot1FileMakerFellerapplguy
  • Reply 2 of 12
    Another reason why if you have the last generation AppleTV you don’t need to upgrade 
    Beats
  • Reply 3 of 12
    I noticed this on my PREVIOUS gen appleTV 4k over the weekend, using HBO Max. Detail pages for movies that are known to be available in 4k are only showing "HD" as the resolution, and "5.1" for sound. This is a recent regression, I've watched HBO Max content in 4k on this device previously.

    This is not limited to the new AppleTV.

    Kind of relieved to see this thread, I thought I was losing my mind.
    jahblade
  • Reply 4 of 12
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 354member
    I wish all the content providers would get together and create one set of standards. It's all over the place and freaks out my receiver from time to time.

    Here's a weird example: The season finale for SNL on Hulu seems to be 4K and stereo sound.* But the same show in the Peacock app is only HD and 5.1 Dolby Digital.

    *Of course all shows on Hulu on TV are only in stereo, because they think it's 1998.
    BeatsScot1
  • Reply 5 of 12
    Just download the apps from another App Store. Oh, right you can't. Apple TV is a monopoly and you the owner of the device have no right to install whatever software you want in Apple's opinion.
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Just download the apps from another App Store. Oh, right you can't. Apple TV is a monopoly and you the owner of the device have no right to install whatever software you want in Apple's opinion.
    If you're downloading the same apps, why would you expect a different result just because they came from a different store?
  • Reply 7 of 12
    DovalDoval Posts: 22member
    Problem is in 14.7 Beta? What about 14.6?
  • Reply 8 of 12
    snookiesnookie Posts: 108member
    starof80 said:
    Another reason why if you have the last generation AppleTV you don’t need to upgrade 
    Unless you want faster processor,  hdmi 2.1, Wi-Fi 6, new remote etc. which I do. 
  • Reply 9 of 12
    snookiesnookie Posts: 108member
    Just download the apps from another App Store. Oh, right you can't. Apple TV is a monopoly and you the owner of the device have no right to install whatever software you want in Apple's opinion.
    If you're downloading the same apps, why would you expect a different result just because they came from a different store?
    He’s trolling.   He also doesn’t know what a monopoly is. 
    edited May 26
  • Reply 10 of 12
    snookie said:
    starof80 said:
    Another reason why if you have the last generation AppleTV you don’t need to upgrade 
    Unless you want faster processor,  hdmi 2.1, Wi-Fi 6, new remote etc. which I do. 
    Faster processor? A12 is not much faster than A10X in the previous generation.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    nealc5nealc5 Posts: 37member
    Just download the apps from another App Store. Oh, right you can't. Apple TV is a monopoly and you the owner of the device have no right to install whatever software you want in Apple's opinion.
    If you would like to download apps from a different App Store, you can get a Roku, or FireTV.  Nobody is forced to buy an AppleTV.  Of course, if one selects to buy an AppleTV, that means they choose to get apps from the App Store.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    I actually have a (somewhat) related issue whereby my TV would display the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos logo when a show is launched from the TV built-in Netflix app.

    Launching the same show on the Netflix app on the new Apple TV still displays the Dolby Vision logo, but the Dolby Atmos is gone, even though the Atmos is set to ON in the Apple TV settings and the Apple TV is plugged in directly to the Atmos-compatibile soundbar via HDMI 2.1 (then the soundbar back to the TV via the dedicated ARC port, all cables being HDMI 2.1 type)

    Apparently the TV cannot handle the Atmos stream to the soundbar via the TV HDMI 2.0b port (even though it shows the logo...), so the recommendation from the manufacturer was to plug external devices to the soundbar directly, as I did.

    weird...
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