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tvOS Updates for Developers

Also included in today’s tvOS announcements was the introduction of several new developer APIs for tvOS apps. These APIs are available for developers immediately through the tvOS developer beta, so users will hopefully be able to start seeing their benefits in various tvOS apps soon after the official release of the new operating system this Fall.

The biggest new features that developers will have access to are the following:


This one may sound familiar because it came to iOS last year, but now tvOS is picking up the framework as well, which will allow developers to more easily build in support for live recordings of users’ tvOS games. These gameplay videos can then be shared with others after the fact, but the API also allows gameplay to be streamed live while the user is currently playing the game. ReplayKit combined with Apple’s (hopeful) new support for MFi game controller-only games, could start to bring more advanced games and attract more advanced gamers to the Apple TV system. Even more so because the new tvOS also includes support for up to 4 MFi Game Controllers to be connected and playing a game at the same time.


The new PhotoKit API will allow third-party apps to access and manipulate photos and videos directly from a user’s iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Shared Photo Stream. This should enable more apps that can display your photos and videos in their own ways, a subclass of apps which is well known on iOS, but hasn’t been possible on tvOS until now.


The HomeKit API will allow developers to start creating apps to control HomeKit devices straight from their Apple TVs. Since Apple’s Home app doesn’t seem to be coming to tvOS yet (it could in later betas, but I haven’t seen any word of it in the initial developer release), developers can get a start on creating those kinds of apps right now for users who don’t want to wait for Apple’s own native app.

App Badges

Finally, tvOS apps will now be able to display the familiar app badges that have been native to OS X (now macOS) and iOS for years. Say goodbye to our nice, clean, badge-less tvOS home screens, but hello to the first incarnation of any kind of notifications on tvOS. I’m sure in the future we’ll see notifications on the platform mature even further, and start to get the more familiar content-filled popups that we’re used to on Apple’s other platforms these days.


There isn’t much information disseminated about other new tvOS developer features quite yet (although I’m sure that will change rapidly as developers dig deeper into all the documentation Apple released today), but Apple did show one of their classic screens filled with new features that they didn’t have time to discuss on stage. Some of these that stuck out to me as interesting to see what comes of them are as follows: SpriteKit focus support, multipeer connectivity, Bluetooth accessories, universal links, continuity keyboard, AVKit up next, and multiplayer game sessions. You can see the full screen of new features in the hero images at the top of this article.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about these in the coming weeks and months, and MacStories will be sure to keep everyone updated on any interesting new tidbits that are certain to start popping up.

You can follow @MacStoriesNet on Twitter or our WWDC 2016 news hub for updates.

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