The next version of tvOS for Apple TV will feature multi-user support in Apple Arcade. The existing picture-in-picture, HomeKit, and AirPlay 2 features will also be expanded.
Update 23.6.2020: The article has been updated to reflect several new features that were not highlighted during the keynote. This includes YouTube in 4K, AirPods Audio Sharing from Apple TV, AirPlay in PiP, selection of screensaver themes, support for keyboard and mouse, support for haptic feedback and light in game controllers.
tvOS 14 for Apple TV
Today at its developers conference WWDC, Apple has unveiled the next version of tvOS. Version 14 of tvOS will introduce improvements to existing features as well as some new features that can prove useful later.
With tvOS 14, the company is expanding multi-user support to include Arcade, meaning that each Apple TV user can resume their games where they left off. In terms of gaming features, tvOS 14 will also bring support for Xbox Elite 2 and Xbox adaptive controllers. Another new development with tvOS is support for haptic feedback and light in game controllers as well as input via a keyboard, mouse or touchpad, according to Apple's developer portal.
Also read: Apple TV's path to becoming a real game console
During its presentation, Apple focused on 'Home' products in a larger sense, including its connected home platform HomeKit. With tvOS 14, users can select HomeKit scenes directly from the control center on Apple TV, allowing you to for example dim the lights. HomeKit on Apple TV can also receive doorbell notifications, with live feeds showing who is outside via picture-in-picture.
YouTube in 4K will finally be supported after a long fight over video formats. Exact details remain unclear (including if HDR is supported too) and the functionality is not yet enabled in the first tvOS beta. We are chasing more details.
The picture-in-picture mode will be expanded to work system-wide on Apple TV, meaning that you can watch the news or the big game while working out - or something else.
Before WWDC, a rumor suggested that Apple was planning to add support for AirPlay speakers to serve as a permanent audio output option on Apple TV. The company did not announce anything of that sort at WWDC but it may be saving some announcement for its hardware event later this year. It did mention, however, that tvOS/iOS 14 will enable support for 4K videos from an iPhone or iPad via AirPlay to Apple TV, and that AirPlay sessions can be used with picture-in-picture on Apple TV.
In addition, Apple unveiled a software update for AirPods Pro that will enable spatial audio for movie sound, including Dolby Atmos, 7.1 and 5.1 surround. Apple illustrated how it works with a TV but it did not specifically highlight Apple TV as a supported device. The company confirmed that Apple TV will support 'Audio Sharing' allowing you to send TV audio wirelessly to two sets of AirPods at the same time.
Another new feature in tvSS 14 is the option to manually select which screensaver themes you want to appear on Apple TV.
The company reiterated that the Apple TV app will launch on TVs from Sony and Vizio later this year. The app is already available on the Apple TV box, FireTV, and Roku as well as newer LG and Samsung TVs.
Earlier tvOS updates have introduced Apple Arcade, multi-user functionality, AirPlay 2, Dolby Atmos support, video match features, support for PlayStation and Xbox controllers, the Apple TV app, a dark theme, and more.
There were no new big features in tvOS 14 and the company did not unveil new Apple TV hardware at WWDC 2020 either. It usually hosts a hardware event in the fall.
Apple is expected to release tvOS 14 later this year.