New Apple TV features: what's coming in the 2016 tvOS update

Siri power up plus single sign-on and more

At WWDC 2016 in June, Apple announced a bunch of new updates for tvOS on Apple TV including new Siri capabilities, single sign-on for Apple TV plus other bits and pieces.

The new features are available now as part of the tvOS developer preview (if you're a registered Apple Developer) but for everybody else the new tvOS software update will be available in the Autumn – probably early September when iPhone 7 and iOS 10 take a bow.

Apple TV Features and Updates

You can download the new Apple TV Remote iOS app with touch navigation, Siri and game play support.

  • Apple Music has a new design. The Library, For You, Browse and Radio tabs have been completely redesigned to provide an even greater sense of place, and a Search tab has been added to make finding music even easier.
  • Photos for Apple TV now supports the new Memories feature, making it easy to rediscover meaningful moments in a user's photo library and share them on the big screen.
  • While there's a bright and fresh Apple TV interface, you can select a dark background for Apple TV should you prefer.
  • Universal apps will now automatically download on Apple TV and show up on the Home screen when an app has been added to your iOS device.
  • 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. We love that!

New Siri Features on Apple TV

Siri can now search over 650,000 TV episodes and movies depending on where you are in the world – it's available in 12 countries - but this update comes with more.

  • Topic search for movies: You can now ask Siri for a movie by topic or theme, you have even more ways to find the films you really feel like watching, such as “Find documentaries about cars,” or “Find high school comedies from the '80s.”
  • YouTube search: Siri can now search YouTube, so you can say “Search YouTube for cute pug videos.”
  • Live tune-in: You'll be able to ask Siri to go directly to a live channel inside a supported app, such as “Watch CBS News” or “Watch ESPN.”
  • Manage HomeKit accessories: Apple TV gives users control of HomeKit-enabled accessories so you can ask Siri to “Turn on the lights” or “Set the temperature to 20 degrees.” Apple TV also enables you to control HomeKit accessories when they are away from home or use it for home automation with the Home app on your iOS device.

Apple TV single sign-on

Starting in the US, you'll have a simplified way of acessing pay-TV video channels by using single sign-on. You have to sign in once on Apple TV to gain access rather than signing into services separately.
Once you are signed into one app, any other app on Apple TV from participating pay-TV providers will automatically log in. Single sign-on will be available on both Apple TV and iOS.

Better Apple TV apps

Since the latest Apple TV box debuted last year, over 6,000 apps have been made available for Apple TV. The new version of tvOS introduces several new tools for developers to include in their apps:

  • ReplayKit to enable developers to record and live broadcast from their apps;
  • PhotoKit to allow third-party app access to photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Shared Stream;
  • HomeKit to create apps to control HomeKit devices from Apple TV;
  • App badging on the Home screen, to make it easier for you to know something new for them is available inside an app; and,
  • Game Center enhancements and support for up to four game controllers at a time.

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