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Apple releases tvOS 15: Here's everything new – updated

20 Sep 2021 | Rasmus Larsen |

Apple has today released tvOS 15 for Apple TV with new features like Spatial audio, AirPods auto-detection, HomePod mini pairing, Siri and HomeKit improvements, new screensavers, and more.
Update: We have discovered additional new features in tvOS 15: - 16 new screensavers from Grand Canyon (5), Patagonia (4) and Yosemite National Park (7) - A new game controller menu in the Apple TV's Control Center - A new "quick resume" gaming function - A way to use Siri (English) on Apple TV in non-supported Siri regions More information and pictures below.

tvOS 15 for Apple TV

With today's release of tvOS 15, Apple has brought six major tvOS updates to the Apple TV box. Apple TV HD was launched in October 2015 with tvOS 9. Some of the new tvOS 15 features, however, are exclusive to the more powerful Apple TV 4K boxes. Also read: First listen: Spatial Audio for movies & Dolby Atmos music on Apple TV 4K Here is everything new in tvOS 15:

tvOS 15 – new features

  • Spatial audio on Apple TV: Connect AirPods Pro and AirPods Max to Apple TV 4K for "theater-like sound that surrounds you from the movie" with support for dynamic head tracking. It works with 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos audio sources and there is also a 'spatialize stereo' upscaling feature. Spatial audio works with video – gaming is not supported in tvOS 15.
    • Streaming app must support Spatial audio: The Apple TV app, Disney+, HBO Max, iTunes, and Netflix are some of the apps that support Spatial audio in tvOS 15 at launch.

      Spatial Audio Apple TV

      New AirPods / Spatial Audio menu on Apple TV 4K

      Spatial Audio Apple TV

      Spatial Audio on Apple TV 4K

      Spatial Audio Apple TV

      Spatial Audio on Apple TV 4K

  • Smart AirPods routing: When AirPods are in close proximity to Apple TV you get an on-screen notification to let you seamlessly switch pairing to Apple TV.

      tvOS 15

      When AirPods are in close proximity to Apple TV you get an on-screen notification

  • HomePod mini pairing: In addition to the original HomePod, tvOS 15 lets you pair a single or a pair of HomePod minis as default speakers to Apple TV 4K, meaning that all sound (video, gaming, menu etc.) play wirelessly on HomePod mini.
    • eARC with HomePod mini: With Apple TV 4K (2021) you can also take the TV's audio (including audio from connected HDMI devices, i.e. game consoles) through HDMI eARC and beam it wirelessly to HomePod mini.

      tvOS 15

      Use HomePod mini – or the original HomePod – as wireless Apple TV speakers

  • Apple TV app: Two new features called 'All of You' and 'Shared With You' are coming to the Apple TV app to let you enable family recommendations, and to let you share recommendations with friends and family.

      tvOS 15

      You can enable family recommendations in the Apple TV app

      tvOS 15

      You can share recommendations with friends and family in the Apple TV app

  • Update: New screensavers: Starting today, new screensavers will roll out server-side to Apple TV but the company only given one example (see photo). Update: 16 new screensavers from Grand Canyon (5), Patagonia (4) and Yosemite National Park (7), according to Benjamin Mayo.

      tvOS 15

      One of the new screensavers coming with tvOS 15

  • Update: New game controller menu in Control Center: If you have at least one game controller paired to Apple TV, a new game controller menu will be visible from the Control Center. It provides quick access to paired game controllers and lets you pair additional controllers.

      Game controller Apple TV

      A new game controller menu in the Control Center

      Game controller Apple TV

      Quick access to paired game controllers, or pair additional controllers

  • Update: New 'quick resume' gaming function: When you power on a game controller, press the 'on' button again to jump straight into the game you were playing last. Some games remain suspended in memory while others need to reload (seemingly due to RAM limitations in Apple TV).

      Game controller Apple TV

      A new 'quick resume' gaming function on Apple TV

  • Update: Siri (English) on Apple TV in non-supported regions: It is now possible to use English Siri on Apple TV in non-supported Siri regions, but it is not straightforward. First, you must sign in with an Apple ID from the US, UK or another supported Siri region, and enable Siri from the Apple TV settings. You can then switch back to your normal Apple ID and use a limited form of Siri in English. You can use voice commands such as: - Open apps and App Store: "Open Netflix", "Find adventure games on the App Store" etc. - Control video playback: "Skip to 10 minutes", "What did she say" (rewind 15 seconds), "Turn on subtitles" - Search YouTube: "Find funny cat videos on YouTube" - Play: "Play Daft Punk" - Siri through other devices: From an iPhone, iPad or HomePod you can ask Siri to do the same things: "Hey Siri open Netflix on Apple TV" Siri cannot find movies or TV shows in unsupported regions yet.

      Siri TV

      Siri can open apps and games

      Siri Apple TV

      Siri can also help you find apps on the App Store, and videos on YouTube

  • Improved Siri HomePod integration with Apple TV: It has been possible to turn on/off Apple TV (and control volume etc.) with Siri on HomePod for a long time but with tvOS 15 new commands will be supported including content requests like "Hey Siri, play Ted Lasso" (in supported regions).
  • New video player UI: There is a redesigned video player user interface in tvOS 15 with a "new Transport Bar, Title View, Transport Bar Controls, Content Tabs, and Contextual Actions". Head to the Apple TV app to see it in action and expect to also see it in some third-party video apps in the future.

      tvOS 15 video player

      The new video player UI in tvOS 15

  • Italian Siri: Apple TV and HomePod now support Italian Siri.
  • Face / Touch ID authentication in tvOS apps: New tools for app developers to "let people use Face ID or Touch ID on their iPhone or iPad to authorize purchases and sign in".
  • HomeKit camera enhancements: This includes a new multi-camera grid, which is accessible from Apple TV's control center:
    • Accessory access: Control HomeKit accessories assigned to the same location, for example outdoor lights, directly from Apple TV when switching between cameras
    • HomeKit security accessories: Doors, locks and other HomeKit accessories can send notifications to tvOS
    • HomeKit notifications: Customization options can be found under the notifications tab in tvOS settings.
    • tvOS 15

      tvOS 15 has improved HomeKit (and Matter) integration

      tvOS 15

      tvOS 15 has improved HomeKit (and Matter) integration

  • Support for home keys: Unlock HomeKit compatible door locks at home with your Apple Watch or iPhone. Apple TV serves as a home hub for HomeKit.
  • Matter support: Starting with iOS and tvOS 15, Apple will support the new Matter home automation standard (née CHIP) in addition to HomeKit. The first Matter compatible home devices are expected to launch next year.

What's still missing

The new SharePlay feature, which is a type of 'groupwatch' feature that will work with third party services, is delayed across iOS and tvOS. Support for Dolby Atmos and lossless music directly on HomePod – when not connected to Apple TV or AirPlay from iOS – is seemingly also delayed. On the software side of Apple TV, we are also still looking forward to things like HDR support in games, Spatial audio and Dolby Atmos support in games, support for more Siri languages, and optional bitstreaming in apps (or another Dolby Atmos in Dolby TrueHD scheme). Also read: Review: Apple TV 4K (2021) The tvOS 15 software update is available now for Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K (2017) and Apple TV 4K (2021).

tvOS 15

Apple highlighting new features for the home including Apple TV

tvOS 15

Other new features related to Apple TV and AirPods

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