Apple TV now plays YouTube videos in 4K, with limits

The update is rolling out gradually.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

As promised, the Apple TV is finally starting to play YouTube videos in 4K — with caveats. Users on Reddit and elsewhere (via FlatpanelsHD and 9to5Mac) are starting to see YouTube 4K support enabled on the media hub when it’s using at least tvOS 14. However, you can only watch in Ultra HD at 30 frames per second, and without HDR. Don’t expect to make full use of that posh new TV just yet, although 60FPS video will play at up to 1440p.

YouTube confirmed the limitations to The Verge. It also said current iPads and iPhones should support 4K video with 60FPS and HDR, although support looks to be be inconsistent at this stage.

Apple TV support also isn’t universal, at least not yet. YouTube appears to be delivering the update remotely rather than tying it to an app release.

Still, this makes Apple’s device considerably more viable if you don’t want to pay to watch 4K videos. It also shows Apple loosening its policies on video formats. YouTube was previously limited to 1080p as Apple didn’t support the VP9 codec Google prefers for very high-resolution videos. Now, it’s just a question of whether or not app creators want 4K in the first place — and that’s highly likely as 4K TVs become commonplace.