The Apple TV’s stage time at WWDC was limited to an announcement by Tim Cook that Amazon Prime Video will introduce an app to Apple’s streaming television-connected box later this year. Although they didn’t receive stage time during Apple’s WWDC keynote, Zac Hall at 9to5Mac discovered that Apple’s first beta of tvOS 11 includes a handful of additional features that look like they could come in handy.
The first tvOS 11 beta includes automatic pairing of AirPods to Apple TVs. When you pair AirPods with an iPhone, the settings are currently propagated across other iOS devices and Macs that are signed into the same iCloud account. That means you only have to pair AirPods once and then you can easily connect with other devices and Macs. However, Apple TVs were left out of the original implementation of this feature, which required them to be manually paired each time someone wanted to use AirPods with an Apple TV. tvOS 11 promises to eliminate those extra pairing steps by automatically pairing with Apple TVs on the same iCloud account too.
The tvOS beta also includes Home screen syncing among multiple Apple TVs. If you own more than one Apple TVs and want a consistent experience across them all, turning on Home Screen Sync ensures that the same apps will be installed automatically on each and organized in the same way.
Finally, the tvOS 11 beta has a setting for automatically switching between light and dark mode based on the sunrise and sunset times where you live.
The tvOS 11 beta is currently for developers only but will be available as part of Apple’s public beta program soon.
Confirming prior rumors, Tim Cook announced today that Amazon Prime Video would be coming to the Apple TV later this year. The news was the first of six main announcements made by Apple at today's WWDC keynote. Cook included the detail that not only would Prime Video be available on Apple TV, but it will also integrate with Apple's TV app – welcome news for myself and all who use the TV app regularly.
Prime Video arriving on Apple TV ends the last prominent holdout from a major streaming service on Apple's platform. And its integration with the TV app leaves Netflix as the single largest holdout that does not yet support the TV app.
The introductory news about Amazon was the only Apple TV-specific announcement made today, which was a disappointment as it was widely expected that Apple would introduce the next major version of tvOS alongside revisions to its other software platforms. Cook did note that we should expect to hear more about developments with tvOS later this year, indicating that a major update may be forthcoming, but simply wasn't ready in time to show at WWDC.
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Good follow-up by Joe Steel (who's been covering and critiquing the Apple TV for a while) to last year's tvOS wishes, which were already spot-on.
I found his assessment of the Siri Remote sadly relatable:
This remote was an abomination that should have never made it out of the design lab it was drafted in. It was conjured up by designers from another world who only had TV remote controls described to them using words in their native tongue. I want something that can be held comfortably, doesn’t shatter, and has asymmetry that you can feel to know what you are holding, and what you are pushing, without looking at the tiny monolith. I wanted it in 2015, and I still want it.
Whatever touch surface they include should be fine-tuned to work with a human thumb instead of whatever capuchin monkey the remote’s original designers were imagining.
Twitter has updated its Apple TV app with an interesting new way to view Periscope videos from around the world. The feature is called Global Discovery, and it was announced in a tweet earlier today.
Once you open Global Discovery in the Twitter app, you'll be presented with a zoomed out view of Earth. The face of the planet is scattered with various pins representing different Periscope streams that are currently live. It's a clever way to discover live videos from radically distant parts of the world. I enjoyed being able to easily hop between Periscopes from areas in the U.S. and others in Asia, on the other side of the world.
Navigation in Global Discovery is limited to four options: you can scroll around the face of the globe, move from pin to pin (and thus video to video) on the planet's surface, and zoom in or zoom out. Switching between these options can be done at any time using the Siri Remote's Play/Pause button.
Global Discovery is a nice evolution of the Map view found in Periscope's iOS app, and one that takes advantage of the big screen to great effect.
When Apple released tvOS 10.2 in late March, it broke audio streaming to the Apple TV from Rogue Amoeba’s macOS app, Airfoil. Since then, Rogue Amoeba has been working on two fronts to restore streaming to the Apple TV. The first results of those efforts were seen last month when Rogue Amoeba released a tvOS app called Airfoil Satellite TV that restored streaming as long as the app was running on your Apple TV.
Today, Rogue Amoeba announced that it has restored full Apple TV streaming functionality to Airfoil for macOS.
We’ve got a great update for Airfoil for Mac today which enables it to once again send audio directly to all versions of the Apple TV. Airfoil for Mac 5.6 is a free update, available immediately by selecting “Check for Update” from the Airfoil menu. We strongly encourage all users to move up to Airfoil 5.6 immediately.
With the Airfoil update, Airfoil Satellite TV is no longer necessary to stream to the Apple TV, but Rogue Amoeba plans to maintain it as a fall-back in case future tvOS updates break Airfoil streaming again.
In an update to version 1.1, the Apple TV Remote app for iOS has received full iPad support. Now an iPad can be used in place of a Siri Remote to control the fourth-generation Apple TV. The iPad app includes full support for Split View, a welcome touch. And thanks to the additional screen real estate, you can move the button panel left and right along the bottom of the screen to keep it in your preferred spot.
The iPad version is not the only interesting change in today's update. On both iPhone and iPad, the app contains a Now Playing menu that can be used during playback of movies, TV shows, or music. This menu resembles the Now Playing screen inside of Apple Music's iOS app, and can be used to navigate playback controls, to view additional details about content that's playing, and more. One of the more useful features is that with video content, you can view chapters and also use a scrubber to jump straight to the place you want to view. Now Playing is a nice addition to the app, providing a new reason to give it a try over the standard Siri Remote.
In the aftermath of Apple’s announcements earlier today, it released an update to iTunes with a new feature described as rent once, watch anywhere. The release notes for iTunes 12.6, which is available as a free upgrade on the Mac App Store, say:
Now you can enjoy your iTunes movie rentals across your devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.
With this new feature, you should be able to start a movie rental on an iOS device and finish it at home on an Apple TV for example, which is a welcome change to what was an overly inflexible system.
iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 are currently in beta but are expected to be released soon, at which time this new feature will be available to everyone who upgrades to those versions of the OSes.
Last night Facebook launched its first app for the Apple TV. Its technical name is simply 'Facebook,' since it's bundled with the Facebook iOS app, but marketing images dub it Facebook Video. The app provides the first native way to watch video content from Facebook on an Apple TV.
Last night Recode's Peter Kafka hosted an interview with Apple's Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services, who was joined by television producer Ben Silverman at Recode's Code Media Conference. The discussion centered around Apple's video ambitions, with new information and trailers being released for two of Apple's upcoming original shows: Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke. Additionally, Cue commented on work Apple's doing with Apple Music and in a variety of other areas.