tvOS received little love from Apple at last week’s Worldwide Developer Conference. That’s a shame, as the operating system still has several areas that need to be improved.
But first, as noted by MacRumors, here’s an overview of new tvOS 16 features for Apple TV:
- Cross-device connectivity: Apple says tvOS 16 enables developers to integrate their Apple TV app with their iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch apps to unlock new experiences that “feel more personal than ever.” For example, developers can deliver more personalized workouts on the Apple TV based on motion sensor data from the Apple Watch, display real-time information on the iPhone while a video plays in their Apple TV app, or include more screens for gameplay.
- Expanded game controller support: Apple says many additional Bluetooth game controllers are supported on tvOS 16. Notably, this includes support for Nintendo’s Joy-Cons and Pro Controller.
- Multiuser improvements: tvOS 16 offers improved system integration for user profiles in Apple TV apps. Apple says with credentials stored in a shared keychain, users won’t need to sign in and choose their profile every time they launch an Apple TV app that has been updated with this functionality.
- Matter support: Matter is a new standard that will enable compatible smart home accessories to work together seamlessly across multiple platforms, including Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon’s Alexa, and more. A home hub is needed to control Matter accessories in the Home app, which can be an Apple TV updated to tvOS 16 or a HomePod/HomePod mini updated to the latest software version.
But there’s lots of work still to be one in the operating system. To wit:
° A revamp of the Home Screen. As noted by iMore: “If Apple wants to utilize the Apple TV’s prime placement in your living room as a central hub, it could open that Home screen up for customization, allowing you to see your day at a glance, control your HomeKit devices, and get to your favorite content quickly.”
° Add support for a webcam for SharePlay. Currently, to watch something via SharePlay but also show your own face, you have to be using a Mac, iPhone, or iPad. This seems like a natural feature for tvOS.
° Split View. Here’s an excellent suggestion from Tom’s Guide: “….it’s time to bring the Split View to the Apple TV 4K in tvOS 16. Just ask anyone who followed all the March Madness 2022 games, or anyone who wants to follow an NFL game and RedZone at the same time. Apple’s even toyed with technology like this in the past, per a patent for a display that would show “different content at different angles.”
Some folks think the lack of new features for tvOS means that it and the Apple TV set-top box have little or no future at Apple. I don’t think that’s true. With Apple TV+ and the Apple TV app, phasing out tvOS and/or the set-top box would be a big mistake, but the lack of news is troubling.
What would you like to see in future versions of tvOS?
When Apple acquired classical music app Primephonic, both companies promised a new classical music experience in 2022. The NFL’s Sunday Ticket contract with ATT is expiring in 2023 and all reports had Apple and Amazon in a bidding war that was expected to cap out at $2.5B–then everything went quiet. The only information about TVos that was announced at the developers conference was about new tools for developers–nothing about user experience. Apple reported 825 million paying subscribers for the March quarter and $20B in revenue in that sector.
There’s a content-shaped hole in the middle of Apple’s recent announcements that’s big enough to warrant its own event, and I predict we’ll see it soon.
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