Just as iOS, macOS, and watchOS receive yearly updates, tweaking the interface and unlocking new features, tvOS, the software that powers the Apple TV, has received a major update this year in the form of tvOS 11.
tvOS It’s the Apple TV’s equivalent of iOS on the iPhone or iPad and macOS on the Mac. The tvOS manages the apps you can install on the Apple TV and offers various features of its own.
In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about tvOS 11 – its design tweaks and new features.
Upgraded AirPod support in tvOS 11
AirPods now appear as a new speaker option automatically on Apple TVs with iCloud accounts connected to iPhones with AirPods paired. This means you can play music or easily listen to video from Apple TV through AirPods without using the TV speakers.
That’s a relatively small update, but it’s a nice quality of life improvement for users who’ve had to manually pair the headphones so far.
Home Screen Sync
When you set up or update an Apple TV with tvOS 11, Home Screen Sync is a new option that can be enabled after connecting your iCloud account. This new feature will let you sync your apps and home screen across any Apple TV device connected to the same iCloud account – though both will need to be running tvOS 11 for it to work.
With Home Screen Sync enabled, you can rearrange your apps from any Apple TV running tvOS 11 and see the changes reflected on all other Apple TVs with the same iCloud account. Home Screen Sync also automatically installs apps across Apple TVs with the feature enabled.
Automatic appearance switching
Automatic appearance switching is another new user-facing feature in tvOS 11. Apple TV gained a new dark mode in tvOS 10, but you had to switch between the light and dark appearance manually. tvOS 11 gains a new automatic option that changes between light and dark mode based on time of day.
This optional feature sees Apple TV automatically switch between light and dark user interfaces depending on the time of day, to give you the most comfortable UI based on local light levels – even taking into account changing sunrise and sunset times during the year.
Amazon Prime support
This is another one Apple actually announced at WWDC: Apple TV is finally getting support for Amazon Prime Video, after lagging behind the competition for years. The app should be made available for tvOS users along with second- and third-generation Apple TV users later this year.
AirPlay 2 with tvOS 11
tvOS 11 will also include AirPlay 2 in the future which will support multi-room AirPlay from iOS and the upcoming Apple HomePod smart speaker, and Apple TV-connected speakers will appear as a HomeKit target in Apple’s Home app.
The tvOS 11 software update adds new features to the fourth-generation Apple TV for free, but the big story this year is the new Apple TV 4K. tvOS 11 for Apple TV 4K has been enhanced for 4K TVs with support for high dynamic range color.
For the fifth-generation Apple TV – the Apple TV 4K, the tvOS 11 update introduces support for 4K content. Apple’s new 4K Apple TV will ship with tvOS 11 installed by default.
How to update to tvOS 11?
tvOS 11 can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System -> Software Update. Apple TV owners who have automatic software updates turned on will be upgraded to tvOS 11 automatically.