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Apple releases tvOS 13 with Arcade, multi-user, PS/Xbox controller support

24 Sep 2019 | Rasmus Larsen |

Apple's tvOS 13 introduces Apple Arcade, a refreshed home screen, multi-user functionality, support for Xbox and PlayStation controllers, and more. AirPlay 2 in HomeKit is delayed.

Apple TV with tvOS 13

Apple TV excels where Smart TV platforms fail. Four years after the release of the first tvOS-based Apple TV, the company continues to add new features through software updates. Version 13 of tvOS is available today. With tvOS 13, the company first and foremost launches its new game service. Apple Arcade arrived on iPhone a couple of days ago and the game service expands to Apple TV today. Arcade is a download service that gives you access to a catalog of games for $5 per month. The company says that Arcade will offer access to over 100 games but we counted just 61 on Apple TV earlier today. Some Arcade games require a game controller. Luckily, Apple has a solution for that in tvOS 13.

Apple Arcade

With tvOS 13, Apple is adding support for Sony PlayStation's DualShock controller as well as Microsoft's Xbox controller via Bluetooth. Both controllers can be used in games that support controllers, including games on Arcade; the company's new game service. Flatpanels has connected both controllers to Apple TV. It works as expected.

AWWDC 2019

Apple is also introducing a refreshed home screen where the Apple TV app automatically plays full-screen video previews of movies and TV shows - soon Apple TV+ content, too. Swiping up on the remote will turn on sound and take you into the Apple TV app that also offers access to content from other streaming services. Another new feature is multi-user support that will give family members a "personalized entertainment experience". You can switch between user profiles from a new control center that slides in from the left when you press and hold the Home button. You can assign a separate Apple ID to each user profile.

AWWDC 2019

Apple Music on Apple TV has gained a scrolling lyric feature. There are new 4K HDR underwater screensavers recorded in collaboration with BBC. A picture-in-picture funktion was included in the beta but we have yet to confirm if it is available in the public release of tvOS 13. The company has also added 'Wireless Audio Sync' to the calibration menu. It lets you synchronie picture/sound to ensure that wireless speakers connected to Apple TV via AirPlay 2 play in sync.

 Wireless Audio Sync

AirPlay 2 in HomeKit delayed

AirPlay 2 in HomeKit on the other hand has been delayed. Earlier this year, the company said that it was planning to include the new feature with version 13 of its OS but it has otherwise not done much to promote it - perhaps because it suspected that it would not be ready for iOS/tvOS 13. AirPlay 2 in HomeKit will allow devices such as Apple TV, HomePod and other AirPlay 2-enabled speakers to be used in HomeKit scenes and automations. One idea could be to have lights dim and curtains roll down when Apple TV wakes up. AirPlay 2 in HomeKit will be enabled later this year. Earlier tvOS updates have added features such as 4K HDR and Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, AirPlay 2, home automation via external protocols, frame rate and dynamic range matching, the Apple TV app, and more. Apples tvOS 13 is available now as a free software update for Apple TV HD (née Apple TV4) and Apple TV 4K.

Apple tvOS 13 - highlighted features

New Home screen. Apple TV 4K is even more engaging with a new Home screen designed for discovery. Apps can now play full-screen video previews on the Home screen, so users can quickly enjoy great new TV shows, movies, music and games.

Multi-user support. The new Apple TV Control Center makes it easy to switch between family members so everyone gets their own personalized entertainment experience. Users see their unique Up Next list and receive TV and movie recommendations based on their tastes. The new Control Center also provides users with quick access to key Apple TV features, including system sleep and audio routing.

Apple Music. Apple Music on tvOS 13 takes advantage of multi-user support, so everyone at home can easily play their personalized playlists and recommendations. In the new Control Center, users can quickly access the song that is currently playing. In addition, users can now follow along to onscreen lyrics timed in sync with their favorite songs.

Apple Arcade. This fall, Apple Arcade comes to Apple TV 4K. With a single subscription, a family of six will have unlimited access to over 100 new and exclusive games, all with no ads or additional purchases, and many will offer support for game controllers. Customers will be able to play Apple Arcade games across iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Apple TV.

Xbox and PlayStation game controllers. tvOS 13 adds support for the best and most popular game controllers in the world, Xbox One S and PlayStation DualShock 4, making it even easier for gamers to take advantage of Apple Arcade and other great games on the App Store.

New screen savers. Apple is expanding the stunning collection of 4K HDR screen savers available on Apple TV 4K by taking viewers under the sea. Filmed in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit, the team behind “Blue Planet,” these immersive videos captured from the depths of oceans around the world showcase mesmerizing creatures and scenes.

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