4K Content On The New Apple TV Is Strictly Streaming-Only, Downloads Not Allowed: What The Heck, Apple?

The new Apple TV 4K has just shipped, but customers should know that while the device supports 4K and HDR playback, they'll be stream-only — with strictly no options to download them and watch later.

Want To Download 4K Movies On Your Apple TV 4K? You Can't

This certainly sours Apple's new pricing model for 4K content, which has already gotten praise. As a way to push 4K content, Apple is making 4K films and shows on the iTunes Store the same price as their 1080p counterparts, and it will even automatically detect if users already bought 1080p content and promptly convert those into 4K free of charge.

But as clearly stated in Apple's support documentation, which MacRumors first pointed out, 4K is strictly for streaming. Users can download 1080p content with ease, but not 4K. This essentially means that without a high-speed connection — Apple recommends a minimum of 25 Mbps — Apple TV 4K owners can't watch films and shows in all their 4K glory. If the internet connection isn't fast enough, Apple will automatically downscale the video quality.

It remains unclear if such restrictions also apply to HDR or Dolby Vision versions, but Apple's wording is pretty suspect, stating that "you might be able to download HDR and Dolby Vision versions, but you can't download a 4K version," emphasis on "might." What the heck?

Users who have 1080p films in their library may still be able to watch 4K versions of those, but again, provided if they have a fast enough internet connection. Offline, 1080p films will still play as 1080p, which is kind of a bummer.

Why Apple isn't allowing users to download 4K content locally remains a mystery. Perhaps it's because the device has limited storage and 4K videos are simply too big? It's possible. But a download option would have been nice.

Apple TV 4K: Other Restrictions

This is just one of many restrictions the Apple TV 4K has. For instance, the device doesn't have the Amazon Prime Video app at this time, and it doesn't support playback of 4K content from YouTube, which is a shame, because if there's any place chock full of 4K footage, it's YouTube.

For its part, Apple did say the Amazon Prime Video app will arrive later this year and it'll support 4K content. Netflix, on the other hand, is already available and supports 4K content, so early adopters have something to watch, at least.

The Apple TV 4K was released on Sept. 22, retailing for $179. Reviews have been mixed. Some say the device is impressive, but others found it a bit lackluster and pricey.

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