An update to Safari in the macOS Big Sur developer release brings a long-absent, much-requested feature: support for 4K HDR streams from Netflix. Further, Apple TV is getting support for the VP9 video codec, meaning Apple TV 4K owners will finally be able to watch 4K YouTube videos in that device’s YouTube app.
Both changes address frustrations users have had in the Apple ecosystem when consuming video content. The Apple TV 4K is positioned as the world’s most capable consumer streaming box, but it didn’t support higher resolutions on one of the world’s most popular apps. And while there has been less demand for 4K HDR on Macs given that most Macs don’t have 4K or fully HDR screens, this is a welcome change for those who use external displays that do support those things.
There is one important caveat, though. 4K HDR Netflix streams are only supported on a few Macs. Only the 2018 or 2019 MacBook Pro models and the iMac Pro support HDR on the device’s own display (though again, the specs don’t meet the same HDR brightness standards that high-end TVs do). Those machines plus the 2018 Mac mini and the 2019 Mac Pro can do HDR on external displays.