After multiple false dawns, Apple has finally enabled support for the HDR10+ HDR format through its Apple TV app on a range of devices. I spotted this myself last night while catching up on another episode of Ted Lasso through the Apple TV app on a Samsung TV, and I’m now seeing it being confirmed by other Apple TV+ users with HDR10+-capable TVs, too.
HDR10+, if you’re not familiar with it, is a type of high dynamic range TV technology which adds extra scene by scene data to HDR streams to help compatible TVs deliver better (usually more dynamic looking) HDR pictures. In this respect it works like the rival Dolby Vision format; in fact, its lead creator, Samsung, developed it precisely as an open standard alternative to Dolby Vision.
Perhaps the most important thing about HDR10+ for the purposes of this Apple TV development, though, is that it’s the only HDR format to add scene by scene HDR data that’s supported by Samsung TVs. They don’t support Dolby Vision. So until now no Samsung TV owners have been able to enjoy a premium HDR experience from their Apple TV apps – a big deal given that Samsung is the world’s biggest selling TV brand.
There are other TV brands that support HDR10+ too, though many of those also support Dolby Vision.
As with the Dolby Vision support that Apple has carried on its app for years now, Apple’s new HDR10+ support works on some rather than all of the content the platform carries. It appears, so far as I can tell, to be available on all Apple-created/owned TV+ shows and films, while a quick run through of some of the third party films on my account finds that it’s available on Atomic Blonde, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and The Accountant, but it’s not available with Bullet Train, Alien: Covenant or Blade Runner 2049. The latter three all play in vanilla HDR10 (which doesn’t carry specific scene by scene metadata) on Samsung TVs.
This suggests that, as we’d expect, the HDR10+ support is studio dependent. Atomic Blonde comes from Focus Features, which is owned by Comcast as part of Universal Pictures; Fantastic Beasts and The Accountant are both Warner Bros films. Bullet Train and Blade Runner 2049 are Sony Pictures/Columbia productions, and Alien: Covenant is a 20th Century Fox production.
Frustratingly, there’s no sign (at the moment, anyway) of HDR10+ labelling appearing on the info pages of Apple TV titles that support the format. So unfortunately I can’t go through every film on Apple’s roster right now to confirm which titles support HDR10+ and which don’t, unless I buy/rent them all. Which obviously isn’t going to happen!
Apple does appear to still prioritise Dolby Vision over HDR10+, though, with content and devices that support both. So checking my Apple TV account out on a Philips (Europe) TV this morning, which supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, Fantastic Beasts and Atomic Blonde, which have long been available in Dolby Vision via the Apple TV app on Dolby Vision capable TVs, maintained their Dolby Vision header and played in Dolby Vision rather than the HDR10+ version that’s now also available. The same goes for Apple-owned/produced TV shows and films, which continue to play in Dolby Vision rather than HDR10+ if your TV supports both formats.
Regular readers of my articles on Forbes may recall that I reported back in June that Apple had finally announced at its 2022 WDC event support for the HDR10+ format. The HDR10+ support was clearly included within Apple’s iOS 16 Preview documents. Just hours later, though, all mention of HDR10+ support disappeared from these documents, throwing its long-rumoured HDR10+ support back into doubt.
Samsung TV owners in particular will be delighted to find that Apple HDR10+ support is now, though, finally definitely a thing. Though at the time of writing it didn’t seem to be working on my Apple TV 4K box, despite installing the latest software, and it would be nice if Apple TV could add HDR10+ labelling at some point.