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Apple updates Apple TV's tvOS with single sign-on and other refinements

Richard Easton
13 Jun 2016
4th Gen Apple TV standing up
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Apple took to WWDC to show off new updates and refinements to its Apple TV operating system

One of the reasons that the Apple TV is one of the most-popular media streamers is because the software gets regular updates, adding new features. At WWDC, Apple unveiled some exciting updates and refinements to its underlying tvOS operating system that powers the Apple TV, including refinements to Siri, a new Apple TV remote app for iOS and single sign-on for improving the user experience.

Apple TV Remote app

Apple tvOS remote app

The physical remote control that comes with the Apple TV is one of the best available with a media streamer. Its trackpad and built-in microphone make navigating delightful and the sensors inside make it viable as a simple gaming controller. But a choice is always good, and some users wanted an app that emulated the same features through their iPhones, just as the previous-generation iPhone had. Apple has granted this wish with a new app for iOS that can emulate all of the functions of the physical remote with the added bonus of a screen. This can display now playing information and other contextual information. The touchscreen also allows for far quicker text input than attempting to use a keyboard on your television screen, when you don't want to use voice.

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Siri Refinements

Siri's voice commands have always been sophisticated but these are improving with the next tvOS update. Users can now use more specific voice queries to find content. You can use commands such as "High school movies from the 80s" to find content and Siri will search through the 650,000 films and TV shows available to provide search results. You can now also use Siri to search YouTube by saying "Search YouTube" before your request. 

Another new function of Siri is 'Live Tune In', which allows you to immediately start watching some of Apple TV's live TV channels. In the demo, the phrase "Watch ESPN 2" immediately brought up the channel.

Single Sign-on

Apple tvOS single sign-on

Having to sign into each app individually can be an annoyingly slow and arduous process and often requires using a desktop or mobile browser to 'link' devices to your account. This is something you've probably encountered if you installed an app, such as Plex. Now, with the new tvOS update, developers can opt into a new Single Sign-on framework so users only have to sign in once across all compatible apps.

Interface and other refinements

The new tvOS update will finally introduce a 'dark mode' interface for those who aren't fond of the bright standard interface used today. This will be great for those fortunate enough to have a home theatre setup. Apps will also now automatically download between iOS and tvOS.

A developer preview kit for tvOS is available today and the consumer release is expected in the Autumn.