At WWDC 2016, Apple today announced a new version of tvOS for Apple TV. New features include Dark Mode, HomeKit, a new Remote app for iPhone/iPad, and easier app login. It will be released this fall.
Dark Mode, Siri and more apps
Apple began by talking about apps. The company says that there are now over 1300 video apps and 6000 apps in total released for tvOS. On stage, Apple highlighted some new apps, including Sling and Fox Sports Go. In addition, Apple highlighted new games such as Minecraft Story Mode and SketchParty TV.
One of the most obvious changes will be the new “Dark Mode”, which is a new user interface theme. Until now you have only been able to use a white background but with the new theme you can also opt for a dark theme.
Siri will learn new languages on Apple TV but Apple did not say which ones. They did, however, announce new features. Siri will soon be able to search for topics such as "high school movies from the 80s" or "find documentaries about cars". Siri has also learned to deep-search YouTube, so you can quickly find videos. The new "Live Tune-in" feature makes it easier to access live TV with Siri.
New Remote app for iPhone / iPad
When you buy Apple TV it will come with the Siri Remote bundled but you have also been able to use the Remote app for iPhone/iPad. However, the Remote app has been lacking several features. That will change.
Apple will release a new Remote app for iPhone and iPad. The most important new feature is Siri that allows you to use your iPhone to control your Apple TV just like you would with the Siri Remote. Apple has also enabled the motion sensors in the Remote app, meaning that you can use an iPhone as a game controller for games on Apple TV. Speaking of game controllers, Apple TV will soon support up to four simultaneous game controllers.
The Remote app helps you log into apps on Apple TV by allowing you to use the on-screen keyboard. However, it has still been a headache to log into each app. Apple is changing that by "Single Sign On". With this system you only need to log in once.
- "When a keyboard appears on Apple TV, one will also appear on nearby iOS devices that are logged into the same iCloud account, making entering text even more convenient," Apple added.
Apple will make it easier to install apps on Apple TV. With the updates, it will be possible to install apps on Apple TV from your iPhone’s app store.
HomeKit and other features
During the final stage of the presentation of tvOS Apple briefly mentioned HomeKit; their platform for home automation. HomeKit can connect home devices such as lamps, curtains, and much more.
Apple TV will soon participate in the HomeKit system. Apple did not go into details but we should soon learn more. Update: Apple has added now added more details about HomeKit on Apple TV
- Apple TV gives users control of HomeKit-enabled accessories so you can ask Siri to “Turn on the lights” or “Set the temperature to 70 degrees.” Apple TV also allows users to control HomeKit accessories when they are away from home or use it for home automation with the Home app on their iOS device."
The company also highlighted ReplayKit, a tool for developers to enable sharing of gameplay, just like modern game consoles. You will be able to record or live-stream gameplay.
The new "Memories" feature from the Photo app on iOS and a new version of Apple Music is also coming to Apple TV:
As usual, Apple rounded off with by showing its slide of all the new features that are included but not highlighted during the presentation. This slide mentioned new features such as "Bluetooth accessories" PhotoKit, "New Siri countries", "Multiplayer game sessions", "More Dictation languages", "Continuity keyboard" etc.
The new version of tvOS will be available to developers today and for the rest of us this fall.