Apple's Set-Top Box Explained

Apple is one of the world's most recognizable and iconic brands. Product after product and service after service, Apple has been meticulously crafting an image of a company which brings together top-notch performance and superb design. 

Still, even a creative giant like Apple can sometimes pitch and miss. Apple G4 Cube was far from a success. The whole dongle thing is a bit annoying. And there is still some confusion about what is Apple TV. We can't make the G4 Cube sell better, or add a headphone jack to the iPhone 7 and newer models. But we can explain what Apple TV is, and what it isn't. 

What Is Apple TV?
Apple TV is Apple's streaming media player. It is the answer to your need to use an Apple product to connect your TV to the Internet and enjoy video, audio, and game content. 

Originally released in 2007, Apple TV is currently available in two versions. The 4th generation Apple TV doesn't support 4K output, and it features a USB-C port. You will not have much use for the port unless you are a developer or an Apple repair technician, though. The 5th generation Apple TV comes with no ports accept HDMI and the Lightning port for Siri remote charging. But it has the more advanced hardware, and it has 4K support.

How Does Apple TV Work?
Apple TV works pretty much like your regular set-top box. You plug it into your TV using an HDMI connector, connect it to the Internet using Wi-Fi, and voila — you have access to all the content your heart desires. 

The currently available models of Apple TV run on an operating system Apple developed specifically for them. The previous iterations of Apple TV used stripped-down versions of iOS for their operating systems. Since the 4th generation, however, Apple has been shipping Apple TV units with their tvOS operating systems. tvOS comes with great features such as support for Siri, application switching, and the use of different types of controllers. 

Where Does All the Confusion Come From?
Even though Apple TV is a product that is entering its twelfth year on the market, it is still unclear to many people what Apple TV is exactly. And sure, you can blame it on the people for not being familiar with Apple's products. However, Apple might have unwillingly added to the confusion. 

For one, Apple TV is not the only Apple product that uses "Apple TV" in its name. There is also the Apple TV app. You can find it on the Apple TV, but you can use it on other devices as well if you want to stream video from different services. 

Then, there have been many speculations about Apple building their own television sets. The rumors have been circling among tech enthusiasts and professionals for years. As far as we know, they are just rumors — the only Apple TV you can buy is the set-top box. You cannot get an actual Apple TV set. 

Finally, there have also been rumors about Apple launching their own subscription movie and TV on-demand service. This would see Apple in direct competition with Netflix and Amazon, and we know that Apple has been taking steps into original programming. 

A company as big and popular cannot afford to rest on its laurels for too long. For Apple, getting into the content game seems like a natural step forward. And while the name of the programming branch of Apple might as well include words "Apple" and "TV" one day, for now, there is only one Apple TV you can own. And it's not an actual TV.