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One of the best new Apple TV features is coming to older models as well

Published Apr 22nd, 2021 8:22PM EDT
Apple TV color balance feature
Image: Apple

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Apple announced a brand new Apple TV 4K model this week at its Spring Loaded event. The upgraded model is the first to contain the A12 Bionic system-on-a-chip, bringing a boost in graphics performance, video encoding, and audio processing. Apple also revealed a new feature that allows Apple TV users to balance the colors of their Apple TV, but it turns out that you don’t need to buy a new model to take advantage of this feature.

As spotted by 9to5Mac, the new color calibration feature is in fact part of tvOS 14.5, which is set to roll out next week alongside iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5. The update will be available for Apple TV HD and up, so as long as your Apple TV was released in 2015 or later, you will be able to perform the color balance process.

Here’s how Apple described the feature in the press release for the new Apple TV 4K this week:

Through an innovative color balance process, Apple TV works with iPhone and its advanced sensors to improve a television’s picture quality. Apple TV uses the light sensor in iPhone to compare the color balance to the industry-standard specifications used by cinematographers worldwide. Using this data, Apple TV automatically tailors its video output to deliver much more accurate colors and improved contrast — without customers ever having to adjust their television settings.

Although you don’t have to have the newest Apple TV 4K to use the feature, you will need an iPhone with Face ID, and you will need to update your Apple TV to tvOS 14.5, which will likely arrive on Tuesday, April 27th. 9to5Mac also notes that the feature won’t work on any TV with Dolby Vision, because they already have their own color calibration profiles. Once you have everything you need, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Unlock your iPhone and bring it close to your Apple TV.
  2. Open the Settings app on your Apple TV and go to Video and Audio.
  3. Click on the Color Balance menu option and pick up your iPhone to continue.
  4. Hit Continue on the Color Balance prompt that appears on your iPhone.
  5. Turn your iPhone around so the front-facing camera is pointing at your television. Hold it centered inside the outline within one inch of the screen.
  6. The color balancing process will begin, and you will see colors flashing on your TV screen.
  7. Once the process is complete, you can view the results on your TV to compare its original color profile with the one that the tvOS color balancing feature chose.

If you aren’t satisfied with the results, you can choose to revert to the original colors with the tap of a button. It’s also worth noting that these changes will only apply to content you watch on your Apple TV, so you’ll have to balance the colors yourself if you want Blu-ray discs or shows from your cable box to look better.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.