While it didn’t get any stage time during WWDC, there are still a few things that you need to know about tvOS 16.
Apple didn’t announce the latest version of its set-top box operating system at WWDC 2022. Still, it did drop a few details about tvOS 16 after the event alongside iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. This fall, the Apple TV will gain cross-device connectivity experiences, expanded game controller support, and an easier way to log into apps and services on the big screen. Here is everything you need to know about tvOS 16 — so far.
Like previous tvOS releases, tvOS 16 will be available for the best Apple TV models — those with the App Store. Here’s the full list of compatible devices:
- Apple TV (4th generation)
- Apple TV HD
- Apple TV 4K
- Apple TV 4K (2nd generation)
While we haven’t seen this feature in action yet, Apple has announced new Cross-device connectivity features for tvOS 16. Like how the Apple Fitness+ app works on Apple TV, tvOS 16 will seemingly offer new experiences using data and sensors from your other devices like your Apple Watch or iPhone. Here are the details from Apple:
Integrate your tvOS app with your iOS, iPadOS, or watchOS app to unlock new experiences on Apple TV. For example, you can deliver more personalized workouts on Apple TV based on motion sensor data from Apple Watch, display real-time information on iPhone while media plays in your app on Apple TV, or include more screens for gameplay.
Based on Apple’s description, we can envision an app on the iPhone offering expanded highlights or news if you are watching a sporting event on the TV. We can also see having more workout options if Apple Fitness+ isn’t your thing. It may be a stretch, but it might even be possible for Apple TV games to offer up maps or stats on an iPad while you are playing on the big screen. Of course, this is all speculation, as Apple hasn’t provided any additional details.
As of now, Apple offers several different ways to log in to apps and services on the Apple TV, which can be confusing at times. Apple services and apps rely on a slick AutoFill log-in process that uses nearby devices for authentication, while others rely on user names and passwords. Even worse, some apps depend on time-sensitive codes that you have to input into a website on another device.
Apple appears to be targeting the log-in process in tvOS 16 by making it easier to sign in to third-party apps with new Keychain and user profile updates. According to Apple:
Make it easier for people to enjoy your Apple TV app with improved system integration for user profiles. With credentials stored in a shared keychain, users won’t need to sign in and choose their profile every time they launch your app.
Expanded game controller support
According to Apple’s tvOS 16 developer beta release notes, tvOS 16 will introduce support for additional game controllers. These include Bluetooth and USB controllers supported by the Game Center framework introduced alongside macOS Ventura and iOS 16.
New controllers that might work with tvOS 16 are the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Nintendo’s Joy-Con, which we have heard are now compatible with iOS 16 and iPadOS 16.
Swift UI for tvOS
Apple is also introducing additional SwiftUI enhancements for the Apple TV in tvOS 16. Developers will have access to new interface customization options, including button styles, effects, gestures, and more. From Apple:
Customize your app’s interface and provide even more functionality with SwiftUI. Create custom button styles and effects that accent your design, take advantage of standard gestures, such as Tap and Touch, and add consistency to interactions with the Focus APIs
tvOS 16 availability
tvOS 16 for the Apple TV is available for download now for registered app developers. If that is you, check out our guide: How to install the tvOS 16 developer beta on your Apple TV. tvOS 16 will presumably be available for free for compatible Apple TV models alongside iOS 16 this fall.