At today’s WWDC, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue took to the stage to introduce the next version of tvOS, the operating system that underlies the Apple TV. Here are the highlights from Cue’s unveiling, as well as the new features to be included with the next version of tvOS.
Less than nine months after the first version of tvOS, there are now over 6,000 native apps for the Apple TV. Of those apps, 1,300 are for streaming video.
Popular over-the-top Internet television service Sling TV arrives on the Apple TV today. Live Fox Sports Go streaming will come this summer.
Speaking of apps: Apple is introducing a new Apple TV Remote app for iOS that allows people to navigate tvOS using Siri from their iPhone and iPad.
While Siri has been a feature of tvOS since the 4th generation Apple TV’s inception, Siri will gain new capabilities in the next tvOS. These new capabilities include the ability to search for movies by specific topics. Cue demonstrated this feature by asking the Siri Remote to “find comedies from the ’80s.”
Siri on tvOS will now also be able to search for YouTube videos in the YouTube app—one of the most popular apps for tvOS.
Additionally, Siri gains a new feature called “Live Tune In.” This allows tvOS users to command Siri to open up apps that display live video, such as the ESPN2 app.
There are dozens of apps that allow cable users to access video content on the Apple TV as long as they have a subscription with their local cable provider. The bottleneck for these apps is that they’ve been a pain to set up in the past. Each app required an individual authentication and sign-on. The next version of tvOS will eliminate this bottleneck by introducing Single Sign On: Sign in once to your cable subscription on the Apple TV and you’ll be signed in automatically to all the channel apps that you get with your cable package.
This is probably one of the most welcome features of the next tvOS. Currently the tvOS home page interface is a very bright frosty white. While this is fine for well-lit living rooms, many times we watch movies or television in a dark or dimmed room. Needless to say, a glaring-white interface isn’t the most pleasant experience in this environment. tvOS will add a system-wide Dark Mode to make the interface easier on your eyes.
While consumers won’t be too excited about new APIs, they will allow developers to create richer apps that enhance the end user experience. ReplayKit can be incorporated by apps to help gamers record their video game sessions and greatest hits. PhotoKit allows apps to access a user’s iCloud Photo Library. HomeKit will allow developers to make tvOS apps that talk to smart home devices.
Now when you download an app on your iPad or iPhone, if there is an Apple TV version of the app, it will download to your Apple TV automatically.
For apps that support notifications, you’ll now see a red badge on the app’s icon on the home screen—just as you do on iOS—if there is a new notifications on that app.
Is the Apple TV looking to encroach on the space owned by traditional games consoles? Looks like it. The new tvOS will support up to four bluetooth game controllers at once.
The next version of tvOS with all these features (and more) is available to developers today and will be available to consumers this fall.
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