The Apple TV app supports a surprising new video format

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With just about all of the talk at Apple’s current WWDC event so far focusing on the brand’s weirdly colored new Macbook Airs, the latest CarPlay features and the M2 processor expansion, another new feature Unexpected but important Apple seems to have slipped largely under the radar: Apple TV app for HDR10+ HDR format,

If you’re not familiar with it, HDR10+ is a “premium” version of high dynamic range picture technology that dramatically expands the range of light used in a video signal. It differs from the standard “HDR10” HDR format supported by all HDR devices by adding additional scene-by-scene image information to the video stream that compatible displays can use to deliver better HDR picture performance.

In this regard, HDR10+ is similar to the Dolby Vision HDR format that Apple has supported for years. In fact, HDR10+ was essentially created, largely by Samsung, as a more open-source alternative to Dolby Vision. Importantly, just as Dolby Vision content must be mastered with the additional scene-by-scene data, the additional image content of HDR10+ must be mastered in content.

Also, frustratingly, some content creators prefer using HDR10+ as their premium HDR format, while others prefer Dolby Vision. Very often content is only available (if it supports one of the premium HDR formats) in one format or the other, not both.

While I’m not yet aware of any HDR10+ content available through the Apple TV app, the addition of HDR10+ support to Apple TV for the new platforms iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and mac OS Ventura means owners of compatible devices can now be confident that they are always getting the best possible picture quality from any HDR source, regardless of the mastering format used by its creator/studio.

It’s also worth adding here that most TV manufacturers only support HDR10+ or ​​Dolby Vision rather than both. So Samsung – the world’s best-selling TV brand, let’s not forget – only supports HDR10+ on its TVs, not Dolby Vision, while rival TV giants LG and Sony only support Dolby Vision. With that in mind, you have to think that Apple’s surprise (given how long Apple has been in the Dolby Vision-only camp) HDR10+ support will also be coming to the Apple TV app for tvOS sooner rather than later, as well as for Apple TV apps deployed on third-party smart platforms, including Samsung TVs.

Debates can, are and will be about whether HDR10+ was a useful addition to the AV landscape or an unnecessary complication when it launched in 2017 – and whether HDR10+ or ​​Dolby Vision deliver better results. That’s entirely irrelevant, however, when it comes to Apple’s quiet announcement of HDR10+ support in the Apple TV app. What I like about this decision is that it shows a consumer willingness on Apple’s part to simply support all of the different HDR formats available so that everyone can always get the best quality of image, rather than taking a position on one format or the other.

If Apple does announce HDR10+ support for the Apple TV app on tvOS or other third-party smart platforms in a day or two, I’ll update this story accordingly.

Related reading

HDR made easy: a jargon-free guide to the latest advancements in TV technology

The HDR format war just got messier

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