tvOS 12 is available today, the latest major software version for the Apple TV. tvOS releases are never as significant as those found on Apple's other platforms, and that remains true this year; however, tvOS 12 does include a handful of new features that have the potential to truly improve the Apple TV experience on a daily basis. Improvements include upgrades to aerial screensavers, Dolby Atmos support, an easier way to enter passwords, and more. Let's dive in.
Posts tagged with "tvOS"
Apple has added a dedicated News section to its TV app on the Apple TV and iOS devices. The feature, which was announced at the company’s September 2017 event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, allows users to jump straight into several different news programs.
In the US, the choices include CBS News, CNN, Fox News, Cheddar, CNBC, and Bloomberg, some of which require paid subscriptions. When you select a news source, your Apple TV or iOS device will prompt you to install its app if it isn’t already on your device. On iOS, and at least with CNN on the Apple TV, the app is installed without a trip to the App Store, after which you are taken directly to the app to begin watching the news. The new feature also works with Siri using commands like ‘Watch CNBC.’
News joins the TV app’s dedicated Sports section, which was announced at the same time as News but was introduced last December. Unlike Sports, which occupies a dedicated tab in the TV app’s interface, News is limited to a single row of icons that appears beneath Up Next, What to Watch, Sports, and a row of featured content.
I was trying to update my two Apple TVs (a 4K model and a 4th generation one) to the latest tvOS 11.2.5 beta earlier today to test AirPlay 2 (more on this soon) and, because I remembered there was a way to install tvOS betas without a USB-C cable, I was attempting to download Apple's tvOS beta configuration profile using Safari on iOS. However, as soon as I tapped the Download button on Apple's developer website, I got this message instead of a new tab showing the downloaded configuration file:
I don't know when Apple changed this behavior, but I recalled that Safari wouldn't try to install tvOS configuration profiles on an iOS device. Without a way to manually fetch the .mobileconfig file and save it to my Dropbox, I was going to unplug my TVs and connect them to my MacBook Pro (which usually sits in the closet until it's recording day for AppStories or Relay) to finish the process.
In a support article, Apple has acknowledged that the recently-disclosed Meltdown and Spectre exploits, which affect virtually every CPU in computers, mobile devices, and other platforms, also impact every Mac and iOS device. Although there are no known exploits of the vulnerabilities, Apple advises that users proceed with caution and download apps from trusted sources only.
Mitigations to defend against Meltdown have already been shipped by Apple in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2. watchOS is unaffected by Meltdown. Development of mitigations for both exploits is ongoing and new defenses will be released to each Apple OS as they become available.
The support article published by Apple provides a high-level explanation of how each exploit works. If there’s any good news to be found in the widespread concern caused by these exploits it’s that Apple says the recently-released mitigations have no measurable impact on performance:
Our testing with public benchmarks has shown that the changes in the December 2017 updates resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS as measured by the GeekBench 4 benchmark, or in common Web browsing benchmarks such as Speedometer, JetStream, and ARES-6.
Our current testing indicates that the upcoming Safari mitigations will have no measurable impact on the Speedometer and ARES-6 tests and an impact of less than 2.5% on the JetStream benchmark.
The gravity of the exploits, which affect virtually all computing platforms, cannot be understated, but it’s reassuring that the initial mitigations released and those coming in the days ahead should have little or no impact on performance. It’s also worth noting that this is probably not the last we’ll hear about Meltdown and Spectre. As Apple notes:
We continue to develop and test further mitigations within the operating system for the Spectre techniques, and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
All the way back in June, at Apple's WWDC keynote, the Apple TV-related news was limited to a single note: Tim Cook announced that Amazon Prime Video would arrive on Apple's streaming box "later this year." Ending a long six-month wait, that promise was finally fulfilled today: Amazon Prime Video is now available on the Apple TV.
Apple has released tvOS 11.2, which adds a new settings option to 4K AppleTVs that can automatically match the frame rate and dynamic range the content being played. The option, called ‘Match Content,’ is found under the Video and Audio section of the AppleTV’s Settings app. Under Match Content, users can choose to ‘Match Dynamic Range’ or ‘Match Frame Rate,’ which can automatically detect and set the original frame rate of content.
The fourth generation and 4K Apple TVs also gained a Sports tab in the TV app. The new section features live sports broadcasts and lets users pick their favorite teams to follow, get alerts when the score of an ongoing game is close, and view scores and schedules.
WWDC was big this year, introducing new iPad and Mac hardware, Apple’s arrival into the smart speaker market with HomePod, and a variety of exciting software releases across iOS, macOS, and watchOS. But one of Apple’s main platforms was almost entirely overlooked: tvOS. During the WWDC keynote we received word that Amazon Prime Video would be coming to the Apple TV, but nothing else. Sessions held later in the conference revealed that a new version of tvOS did exist, and that it would be coming this year, but the details prove that it’s the smallest release in the OS’s young life. You could say that the focus of tvOS 11 is incremental improvements; the updates here are nice, but they hardly merit a major numbered release.
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.