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tvOS 11: Airplay 2, HEVC, dark/light auto switch, screen sync, more

08 Jun 2017 | Rasmus Larsen |

The coming version of tvOS for Apple TV will include new features such as Airplay 2, ’Home Screen Sync’, new screensavers, and automatic switching between dark/light themes. With tvOS 11 the company is also adding HEVC decoding, which is a foundation for future 4K and HDR video in tvOS.

New features in tvOS 11

tvOS did not get stage time at the keynote besides a brief announcement that Amazon Prime Video is coming later this year. However, Apple has released a tvOS 11 beta and at WWDC’s ‘What’s new in tvOS’ session the company unveiled further details.

tvOS 11 will first and foremost include Airplay 2. The updated Airplay protocol supports multiroom at home and you can control your playlist on Apple TV4 with the remote or Siri. We have published an overview of what’s new in Airplay 2.

With tvOS 11, iOS 11, and macOS High Sierra, Apple is also enabling HEVC decoding across its products, including on Apple TV4. HEVC can reduce video bitrate “by up to 40% with same visual quality”, or improve picture quality at the same bitrate. By adding HEVC in tvOS, Apple is also laying the foundation for a future Apple TV5 with 4K and HDR. Learn more about what HEVC means for Apple TV here.

Another new feature is ‘Home Screen Sync’ that automatically synchronizes all your Apple TVs at home. It will ensure that the same apps are available and that apps are placed in the same order on all screens.

Update 9.6.17: On tvOS 11, Airpods automatically pair with Apple TV. By sliding down the top menu you can select Airpods as a wireless speaker, similar to how you would select wireless Airplay speakers, reports 9to5Mac.

“Automatic Appearance” uses location data to automatically switch between the light and dark themes at sunrise and sunset. The option to manually select between the light and dark themes was added last year.

Gamers can look forward to more advanced games when Apple increases the install package limit from 200MB to 4GB. After initial install, games can download up to 24GB of data in the background while you are gaming. Last year, the company also reversed its decision to require that all games must work with the remote. Games can, in other words, require a game controller.

Lastly, the company highlighted new screensavers, a refreshed ‘Computers’ app, notifications, support for right-to-left languages, “custom sound” support, ”network-based pairing”, and new developer-specific tools.

Apple TV

”A lot more about tvOS later this year”

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, kicked off WWDC 2017 by announcing that Amazon Prime Video will come to Apple TV later this year. It will be available as an app but also be included in the ‘TV’ app.

Speaking of the ‘TV’ app, a sort of modern TV guide for the streaming era, the company had nothing new to announce. The app is still available only in the US. Users all over the world are also waiting for Apple to add more languages to Siri and activate universal search.

Tim Cook said that we will hear "a lot more about tvOS later this year”, possibly hinting at new hardware – with 4K and HDR – at the annual hardware event in the fall.

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