Among all the big and exciting WWDC 2022 announcements, we were disappointed to learn that there wouldn’t be much of an update to tvOS on Apple TV 4K… for iPhone and iPad too.
According to FlatpanelsHD (opens in new tab)Apple has confirmed that HDR10+ support is coming to Apple TV 4K, as well as other HDR-capable Apple devices: that means OLED iPhones (including the iPhone 13) as well as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021).
Except, judging by Apple’s statement, something a little strange is happening. It said, “HDR10+ support. The latest generation of high dynamic range technology is now supported in the Apple TV app.”
The Apple TV app (not to be confused with Apple TV hardware, which also run the Apple TV app…) is a way to bring all the things you watch together in one place, so they’re easy to find. If you watch stuff on Disney+ and Amazon Prime, say, new episodes will be highlighted in the Apple TV app. The app also includes Apple TV+, Apple’s streaming service (not to be confused with the app or the hardware), and any movies or TV shows you’ve purchased from Apple’s digital store.
So here’s the weird part: why does Apple specifically say that the Apple TV app supports HDR10+? HDR10+ is a rival to Dolby Vision HDR (both use scene-by-scene data to improve HDR performance depending on exactly what is being shown), and Apple supports Dolby Vision for any application you want to use it.
It’s especially weird because the only things you can watch directly in the Apple TV app are movies or TV directly from Apple, either on Apple TV+ or in your own store… and they only use Dolby Vision, not HDR10+.
The biggest service that uses HDR10+ is Amazon Prime Video, although Paramount+ also offers it… Even if you tap on a show or movie from the Apple TV app, you will be redirected to the official app to actually watch it. Then Those apps need to support HDR10+, not the Apple TV app.
We’ve reached out to Apple for clarification and will update when we receive a response.
Analysis: Why is HDR10+ desirable?
There are three main HDR formats: HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is ‘regular’ HDR, while HDR10+ and Dolby Vision are more advanced – if your device doesn’t support the more advanced format it will ‘resort’ to using HDR10 for whatever you’re watching.
Ideally, you would always use HDR10+ or Dolby Vision because they help your device adjust its brightness and dark levels over the course of a movie to always deliver the best contrast levels with as much detail as possible, depending on what each scene needs. Regular HDR10 sets the overall contrast levels for the entire movie, so the darkest and brightest scenes need to work within a certain envelope, so you get a little less nuance.
The problem is that most streaming services use Dolby Vision or HDR10+, so if your device doesn’t support both, you won’t get the best quality of all services. We’ve been wanting Apple to support HDR10+ for a while so all their HDR-ready devices can reach their full potential for watching movies, for that reason.
And it looks like we’re almost there? Hopefully in the end there will be HDR10+ support for all apps.