The next version of tvOS for Apple TV will add Dolby Atmos, new screensavers created in collaboration with NASA, expanded home control with Control4, Creston and Savant, easier login and sign-on, and more.
What’s new in Apple tvOS 12
Apple TV 4K is a hit, the company claims. No hard figures were given but Apple did say that since launching Apple TV 4K in late 2017 sales have increased 50% year-on-year. iTunes now has a rich catalog of movies in 4K resolution and HDR (High Dynamic Range), including Dolby Vision.
The next step will be to add support for Dolby Atmos (on Apple TV 4K only, it appears). Your purchased movies will get upgraded to Atmos free of charge. Apple says that iTunes will offer the largest collection of Atmos movies anywhere.
The software update will also add new screensavers in 4K HDR quality created in collaboration with NASA, International Space Station National Lab, and Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, and recorded from the International Space Station (ISS). In addition, viewers can manually swipe between screensavers and see the location of each.
Apple used the opportunity to point out that traditional set-top boxes are quickly becoming a thing of the past as major TV providers across the US, France, and Switzerland have decided to offer Apple TV 4K to their customers.
Zero sign-on with TV app
While we had expected Apple to expand availability of the ‘TV’ app, the company will continue to offer it in only 10 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, UK, and USA.
The ‘TV’ app is a modern TV guide for Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad that presents content from more than 100 partners in a unified interface. It also supports universal search via text or Siri.
Netflix is still not playing along and the only significant addition with tvOS 12 will be “zero sign-on” that “detects the user’s broadband network and automatically signs them in to all the supported apps they receive through their subscription — no typing required”.
Expanded home control
Apple TV is already compatible with HomeKit that allows it to control a range of connected home devices, including lights, thermostats, shades, and more. With tvOS 12, it will gain support for three other home control protocols.
- “Home control systems like Control4, Crestron and Savant can be used to control Apple TV, including using Siri for voice search and control,” the company announced.
Lastly, Apple highlighted that iOS and tvOS 12 “can securely AutoFill passwords from iPhone and iPad to Apple TV to easily sign in to Apple TV apps” and that “the Apple TV Remote will be automatically added to Control Center on iPhone or iPad for Apple TV users, giving users quick access to Apple TV controls”. Today, the remote has to be added manually.
Apple launched the first media player based on tvOS in 2015. The operating system has since gained several features including Airplay 2, HEVC decoding, Airpods auto-pairing, home screen sync, light/dark themes, Metal 2 game engine, and lots of other features. With tvOS 11.2 in December 2017, the company added a function to match frame rate and dynamic range on Apple TV 4K, and with tvOS 11.3 the same match features were added on Apple TV4.