Throughout the last decade, Apple has been slowly becoming more and more involved in the battle for TV. With the fourth-generation Apple TV announced last September, Apple made its first major move for the TV, introducing a fully-functioning App Store and the Siri Remote. tvOS, the operating system powering the new Apple TV, is where Apple pushes out all of its ideas to change TV.
With tvOS 10, announced at WWDC two week ago, Apple hopes to continue its battle to take over your TV with new features and ideas for the box. For the past two weeks, I’ve been running tvOS 10 and have gotten to experience all the new OS has to offer. Here’s everything I liked, and everything else I think probably should have stayed the same.
Siri is now more powerful on tvOS 10. While Siri was previously able to give you results based on genres or certain services, the assistant can now understand complex requests for movies, such as “High School comedies from the 80’s”. The new Siri work just as you’d expect, and in my testing has successfully been able to understand these complex requests.
Additionally, Siri can now automatically go into live television. So, saying “Watch CBS” will automatically take you into the CBS live stream. This is quite possibly my favorite feature in the new update and has stopped me from going over to my cable box on a number of occasions.
Siri on Apple TV can now also control HomeKit devices, I’ve heard this works well, though I haven’t had the chance to try it.
Apple TV now features a new ‘dark mode’ option, which essentially inverts all the whites to blacks. It gives the interface a really nice look, and I imagine in a Home Theater environment it would be a good touch.
The Photos app on Apple TV has been updated to match the new experience on iOS and macOS, and it is a wonderful update. Some of the new features, like the new automatic ‘Moments’, are a great experience on the TV.
A feature I was unaware of before discovering it for myself when a text field comes up on the TV, your iPhone will give you a notification saying ‘3D Touch to type on Apple TV’, allowing you to use your phone’s keyboard. No Remote app required.
Siri Remote App:
The new Siri Remote App works just as you expect, allowing you to do everything you would do with your Siri Remote straight from your phone. I prefer tactical buttons when controlling TV devices, but it has been nice to have the option when the remote isn’t next to me.
The Apple Music app on the Apple TV will be updated to match the new features on Apple’s other devices, however, the app has not yet been updated to the beta. Mildly odd, as this should not be a hard thing to move over.
While it will likely become my favorite feature in tvOS once it is available, single sign-on was also not available in the current tvOS beta. I imagine this could be harder to implement, so unlike Apple Music, I’m more forgiving on this one.
Siri is still pretty stupid when it comes to non-TV related items. I am puzzled why Siri isn’t a universal assistant, that can answer every type of inquiry on every platform.
Developers will now have the option to require a Bluetooth gaming controller for Games on the App Store. This means some Apps won’t be playable from your regular Apple remote. I have a hard time imagining people will even go out and buy $50+ game controllers for their Apple TV, but we’ll see if this really entices gamers to the platform.
Universal App Downloads:
While this is an option, not a requirement, I am puzzled why I or anyone else would want Apps downloaded on their phone to automatically come up on their TV. Games wise it may make sense, but there are a few crap-apps from news services, weather services, and other categories on the TV that just aren’t necessary.
Overall, the tvOS beta hasn’t really given us a full picture into what to expect from the update in Fall, but it is still clear from these new features that Apple is taking TV very seriously.