The headlining feature of tvOS 12 is Dolby Atmos and free iTunes upgrades. Apple TV will also gain expanded home control, faster login and sign-on, new screensavers, and more.
Update: Apple has today released tvOS 12 so we are highlighting this article on the front page. Netflix has also added support for Dolby Atmos on Apple TV 4K.
tvOS 12 for Apple TV
Apple and Dolby will strengthen their TV partnership that started out last year with Dolby Vison HDR. Apple TV users will be able to enjoy an enhanced audio experience with Dolby Atmos, and the company claims to have the largest library Atmos movies collection anywhere.
- ”Apple TV 4K already offers customers the largest collection of 4K HDR movies and this fall, iTunes will be the home to the largest collection of Dolby Atmos supported movies anywhere,” Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said in August.
Once again, your movies will be upgraded free of charge. This practice started way back in the transition from 720p to 1080p and continued with the launch of iTunes Extras, then 4K HDR, and now Dolby Atmos.
At launch, Atmos will work with iTunes and Vudu. It will also soon roll out for Netflix. All of these streaming services offer Atmos in Dolby Digital Plus compression but Apple TV 4K outputs in PCM as an uncompressed Dolby MAT 2.0 audio stream. FlatpanelsHD maintains a list of movies in 4K HDR and Atmos on iTunes, which reveals that there are currently over 140 Atmos titles available.
In addition, Apple will expand home control beyond HomeKit.
- “Home control systems like Control4, Crestron and Savant can be used to control Apple TV, including using Siri for voice search and control.”
New 4K HDR screensavers created in collaboration with NASA and ISS will be made available. Viewers will also be able to manually swipe between screensavers and see the location by light-tapping the touchpad.
Zero sign-on & Airplay 2 improvements
With iOS 12 on your iPhone/iPad and tvOS 12 on your Apple TV, you will be able to use the auto-fill function to easily sign in to Apple TV apps. Once a login screen appears on Apple TV you will automatically be prompted on your iPhone and can authenticate via Face ID or Touch ID.
This will also work with a guest’s iPhone. By using the Siri Remote’s bluetooth connection Apple TV can detect if the iPhone is nearby. Furthermore, Apple will include a shortcut to the Remote app in the control center on iPhone/iPad.
A new feature in the ‘TV’ app is 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”.
tvOS 12 was announced in July and FlatpanelsHD has been testing the beta software. Apple has made a number of tweaks to Airplay 2, for example the ability to control audio volume on Airplay 2 speakers connected to Apple TV from an iPhone or Apple Watch. Learn more in our upcoming HomePod review.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has hinted that the company is planning to launch a TV service but nothing was announced at today’s event.
tvOS 12 is available now for Apple TV4 (2015) and Apple TV 4K (2017).