tvOS 13 is a stunning launch. For years Apple has been pushing the TV app as the primary draw of the Apple TV, then earlier this yr it introduced the app to Samsung TV units with the promise of additional growth to Roku and Amazon Fireplace TV units, together with a smattering of different TV units. The proliferation of the TV app made the Apple TV seemingly much less vital to Apple, however in actual fact with tvOS 13, obtainable now, Apple has launched the largest tvOS replace ever. Earlier than getting too excited, know that the bar for “greatest ever” is extraordinarily low within the case of tvOS, however nonetheless in a yr when the Apple TV felt extra marginalized than ever, it’s nice to see new life breathed into the gadget.

On the heels of Apple TV Channels debuting earlier this yr, and the brand new Apple TV+ streaming service launching in a matter of weeks, Apple has given the Apple TV an up to date House display, multi-user performance, good new underwater screensavers, Image in Image, Apple Arcade aided by PS4 and Xbox One controller assist, and much more. Whereas it might’t evaluate to the behemoth launch that was iOS 13, tvOS 13 stays a robust replace in its personal proper.

House Display screen

Top Shelf extensions can now play video.

Apple had made a number of visible and practical adjustments to the tvOS House display. On the visible facet, you’ll discover that the Dock on the prime of the display is ready aside greater than ever from the rows that comply with it, and all the things has adopted rounded corners for a softer really feel. Apps in your Dock can now assist a brand new High Shelf extension that allows auto-playing video once they’re highlighted. Apple’s TV, Arcade, and Music apps all supply High Shelf extensions that auto-play video previews of every app’s content material. Luckily, this video is all the time muted by default, however if you wish to take heed to a given video, you may swipe up on the Siri Distant to have the video go full-screen with audio enabled.

Additionally new on the House display is the debut of Management Middle. Holding down the TV button on the Siri Distant will trigger the brand new Management Middle panel to slip in from the best facet of the display. It encompasses a fast method to put the Apple TV to sleep, a Now Enjoying widget, and buttons for AirPlay controls and performing system-wide searches. Lastly, Management Middle can be house to the brand new multi-user controls.

Multi-Consumer

Control Center makes its Apple TV debut.

In tvOS 13, the Apple TV turns into simply the second Apple platform, following the Mac, so as to add true multi-user assist. The function integrates with Apple’s Household Sharing system, so anybody working iOS 13 who has been configured for Household Sharing and granted entry within the House app will present up as a brand new person on the Apple TV. If you wish to add a person not included in Household Sharing, you may go to Settings ⇾ Customers and Accounts ⇾ Add New Consumer; as soon as there, new customers will be added by coming into their Apple ID credentials.

As soon as further customers have been added to your Apple TV, you may change between them from the brand new Management Middle panel. Switching customers will trigger system apps equivalent to TV to populate with knowledge from the chosen person’s Apple ID, making it simple for the primary time for members of the family to maintain their very own separate Up Subsequent queues on their iPhones or iPads whereas utilizing a shared Apple TV gadget. Apple has additionally enabled third-party builders to combine with tvOS’ multi-user framework, so apps like YouTube and Netflix might in principle comply with the system person setting moderately than requiring person or account choice inside their respective apps. I don’t know of any third-party apps that presently assist multi-user, however hopefully that can change within the coming months.

Screensavers

Underwater screensavers in tvOS 13.

I’ve stated it earlier than, but it surely deserves repeating regardless of how foolish it might sound: the Apple TV’s screensavers are one of many gadget’s most pleasant options. Yearly Apple provides a wide range of 4K HDR screensavers from around the globe that fill me with sheer awe and pleasure. Final yr tvOS launched screensavers captured from the Worldwide Area Station, and this yr in partnership with the BBC Pure Historical past Unit, tvOS 13 consists of screensavers captured deep underwater. Those I’ve seen to this point are unsurprisingly beautiful.

Image in Image

The playback screen's new Picture in Picture option.

For probably the most half, the viewing expertise in tvOS 13 is unchanged from what was obtainable earlier than, however there’s one noteworthy distinction: Image in Image assist. The TV app now gives a built-in Image in Image function that works equally to what’s discovered on the iPad and Mac. Once you’re watching something that performs straight within the TV app – equivalent to Apple TV Channels content material, or a film or present from iTunes – the playback controls will now function a Image in Image button. Playback controls are displayed on-screen once you faucet on the Siri Distant’s contact floor; they’ll present the playback progress bar with time elapsed and remaining, and now a Image in Image possibility within the heart of the display, which you’ll swipe as much as entry.

Video playing in Picture in Picture.

The way in which Image in Image works is considerably restrictive on tvOS; for instance, you may’t resize the PiP window like is feasible on different platforms. You can nonetheless transfer it to the 4 corners of the display by tapping the TV button on the Siri Distant then choosing the center icon that seems on the PiP window. One other downside is that, presently at the very least, Image in Image will solely keep on-screen whilst you stay contained in the TV app. In case you return to the tvOS House display, the PiP window will disappear. Through the tvOS beta cycle this summer season it was potential to maintain PiP on-screen whereas searching the remainder of the interface, so both that modified within the ultimate launch or a bug is presently stopping it from functioning correctly.

Gaming

Browsing Arcade categories.

Apple’s latest subscription service, Apple Arcade, has had a formidable debut on iPhone and iPad, however tvOS 13 brings it to the large display too. Whereas the Apple TV doesn’t supply each single Arcade title obtainable on different platforms, the overwhelming majority of them are accessible right here. Together with your single Arcade subscription you may play on Apple TV, iPad, or iPhone and your progress is synced throughout all units.

If Arcade titles needed to be performed with the Siri Distant alone, the launch of Arcade on Apple TV would probably find yourself a flop. Luckily, loads of Arcade titles assist utilizing a linked sport controller, and in tvOS 13 now you can play with a Sony DualShock four or a Bluetooth-based Xbox One controller. In case you’re concerned about new sport controller performance on the Apple TV, be sure you take a look at John’s deep-dive on controller assist.

All of the Relaxation

Apple Music lyrics. Like on iOS and iPadOS, the Music app in tvOS now helps time-synced lyrics. For songs that assist them, tvOS will show the track’s cowl artwork on the left facet of the display whereas lyrics are displayed in a scrolling carousel on the best facet. Apple TV homeowners primarily now have their very own Apple Music karaoke app constructed into the system.

Time-synced lyrics in Apple Music.

Siri Distant tweak. For many of the summer season, I assumed one thing was severely damaged with tvOS and the Siri Distant. I’ve traditionally all the time clicked the highest of the distant to activate my Apple TV, however that stopped engaged on the tvOS 13 beta. I assumed this was only a bug that will be hammered out earlier than lengthy, and I started turning on the gadget by way of a shortcut as an alternative. Ultimately I found that Apple merely made an intentional change in tvOS 13: clicking the highest of the Siri Distant now not activates the Apple TV, so that you’ll must click on a distinct button, equivalent to Menu, as an alternative. I believe it’s change finally, for the reason that variety of unintentional gadget power-ups needs to be considerably lowered.


I’m truthfully thrilled that Apple isn’t content material letting the Apple TV languish because the TV app spreads to different platforms. I like my Apple TV due to its tight integration with different Apple units, sturdy image and sound high quality, and its potential to supply third-party apps like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu for surfacing TV app content material – one thing the app can’t do on non-Apple units. Nonetheless, I’d have understood if Apple felt prefer it couldn’t justify investing a lot improvement time into tvOS – in comparison with each different Apple OS, tvOS has all the time been a distinct segment platform, and it’ll probably develop into much more area of interest now that it might’t declare unique rights to the TV app. Nonetheless, all of the updates in tvOS 13 present that there’s nonetheless work left to do creating a greater TV expertise for Apple customers. It is a sturdy launch, and it alerts a brilliant future but for the Apple TV.