Apple announced a ton of new software at WWDC this past June. Of course, the biggest software improvements are coming to iOS 11, which runs on all iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.
There are also a number of awesome improvements to watchOS, the operating system on the Apple Watch, and well as macOS High Sierra, the latest operating system for the Mac.
But Apple has a fourth operating system as well. You’ll be forgiven for not knowing this considering this OS gets the least love out of them all. I’m of course talking about tvOS, the operating system that powers Apple’s fourth generation Apple TV.
At this past WWDC Apple did indeed announce tvOS 11, scheduled to ship this autumn, but they didn’t spend a lot of time on it. But that’s not to say there’s nothing new in it. And since Apple has released the first beta of tvOS 11 to developers, we now have a much better idea of the changes to expect.
Below we list all the big ones. But if you’re still a bit underwhelmed, you may yet be in for a surprise. It’s very likely Apple will introduce new Apple TV hardware this autumn when it announces the new iPhones. And if it does, expect to see a lot more features coming to your Apple TV.
Amazon Prime Video
Okay, this isn’t technically a feature of tvOS 11, but at WWDC Apple announced Amazon Prime Video will finally have an app for the Apple TV. This was huge news—and probably the most exciting news of WWDC for those who love their Apple TV.
Amazon and Apple had been locked in a ridiculous battle over the Apple TV “not supporting” Amazon Video, or something. It’s too stupid to go into, but rest assured that Amazon Prime Video is coming to the Apple TV and will likely require tvOS 11 to run it.
Automatic Light/Dark Mode
This is a really cool feature many have been hoping for. In tvOS 10 Apple added Dark Mode to the Apple TV, which allows users to have a dark interface on the Apple TV’s Home screen.
Users have been able to switch back and forth between Light and Dark mode at will, but now tvOS 11 will make that even easier with automatic Light and Dark mode switching.
The way it will work is the Apple TV will pay attention to the sunrise and sunset times based on your geolocation and automatically switch to Dark mode when the sun sets and Light mode when the sun rises.
Home Screen Syncing
Apple officially describes this feature thusly: “Keep your apps and Home screens up to date across any Apple TV that uses this iCloud account.” It’s actually not a feature I’ve ever heard anyone ask for, but it’s still nice to have. You’ll only be able to use it if you have multiple Apple TVs however.
What it will allow you to do is have all the apps you have downloaded on one Apple TV available on other Apple TVs you own without needing to manually download the apps on the second (or third) Apple TV again. Not only that, Home Screen Syncing will also sync the placement of the apps on the Home screen across multiple Apple TVs.
Full AirPods Support
This is a small update, but nice nonetheless. In tvOS 11, Apple’s AirPods will now automatically pair with your Apple TV through iCloud, just as they do with your iPhone and iPad now.
AirPlay 2 Receiver Functionality
Apple will release AirPlay 2 this autumn, which supports multi-room AirPlay from iOS and the upcoming Apple HomePod smart speaker. With tvOS 11, the Apple TV will officially become an AirPlay 2 receiver, so you can beam your tunes to any speakers connected to your Apple TV.