Apple TV update: Everything you need to know about tvOS 14

Apple TV 4K hero
Apple TV 4K hero (Image credit: Apple)

Every year, Apple pushes out an Apple TV update. Most of the time, tvOS doesn't usually get a complete overhaul, but Apple always makes a few changes that may seem small on the surface, but they're actually big improvements. So what's new for Apple TV's operating system? Read on to find out!

So what are the new features in the Apple TV update?

The biggest changes in tvOS 14 involve some under-the-hood updates to improve performance, but we know you're here for the good stuff. Here are the new features for this year's Apple TV update.

Multi-user Apple Arcade support

Prior to tvOS 14, Apple TV didn't support multi-user support for syncing Apple Arcade. Now, you can have different user profiles each signed in to Apple Arcade on the same Apple TV and your spot will be saved and ready for you when you come back to play. When you switch between profiles, you will see your game progress, Friends list, and more.

Xbox Elite 2 and Xbox Adaptive Controller support

Since 2019, Apple TV has supported Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers and now, with tvOS 14, Xbox Elite 2 is also supported, and even more important, Xbox Adaptive Controllers is usable on Apple TV. This is an incredible addition to gaming on Apple TV for accessibility,

Screen saver themes

In tvOS 14, Apple has finally added the ability to select which Aerial screen saver themes appear when your Apple TV is idle. Through a new option available in the Settings menu, you can now select between the following themes: Landscape, Earth, Underwater, Cityscape. This setting is all-or-nothing though, so you can't select individual screen savers within a theme.

4K Video sharing in the Photos app

When you're showing off your vacation photos and videos on your Apple TV, you can see those videos in full 4K from your iPhone or iPad via AirPlay with 4K HDR. And if your family wants to send videos to your Apple TV from their device, those will appear in 4K, too. Of course, that's for videos that you've recorded in 4K.

PiP across all content

In tvOS 14, you can take advantage of Picture-in-Picture whether you're in the Apple TV app or any other app, too. So you can watch the news while working out or keep your TV shows playing while searching for a new home in Zillow. PiP also works with AirPlay.

New HomeKit integration and Home View

In tvOS 14, we get full support for viewing HomeKit-enabled camera feeds. HomeKit-enabled cameras are integrated with Apple TV and you can see them in the new Home View in Control Center. Home View in Control Center is a pared-down version of the Home app (so, no... there is still no Home app on Apple TV) that lets you access your favorite cameras and scenes that you've marked in the Home app on your iPhone or iPad.

You can also get live view doorbell notifications on your Apple TV for HomeKit Secure Video-enabled smart doorbell cameras which include the name of the person at the door thanks to Face Recognition.

You can ask Siri on Apple TV to show you the view of one of the cameras at any time, and a slick PiP window will appear without interrupting your movies or shows. Plus, you can take the camera view full-screen, and for the first time, HomeKit cameras on the big screen even include sound with tvOS 14.

AirPods Audio Sharing on Apple TV

When you and your partner are settling in for the night, but you don't want to wake the kids, you can now set two pairs of AirPods or AirPods Pro as your audio devices in tvOS 14. You can blast that action flick without waking the baby.

YouTube in 4K

I know, why hasn't this already been an option? But it's finally coming in tvOS 14. You'll be able to watch videos with their full 4K resolution right on your big screen on your 4K (or higher) television set. It's about time.

Privacy and tracking

tvOS 14 also introduces a new Tracking option that is available in Privacy settings. This setting allows users to opt-out of activity tracking from third-party apps, just like it intended to do for iOS 14 before the feature was delayed until next year.

Why is it called tvOS14?

Apple switched over to the tvOS SDK in 2015. It was previously based on the iOS SDK. In order to keep in line with the original iOS numbering version. So, although tvOS was in its first iteration in 2015, Apple called it tvOS 9. Five years later, we're on the 14th version of an operating system for Apple TV that was built from iOS, which has also seen its 14th version.

Is the Apple TV update available now?

It is! If your Apple TV didn't already update automatically, you can manually push it out whenever you're ready. Keep in mind that it could take a whle to update, so plan around your nightly TV watching activities.

How to update Apple TV

How much will it cost me?

Absolutely nothing. Apple stopped charging for software upgrades back with OS X Mavericks. We've never paid for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV updates.

Will my Apple TV work with tvOS 14?

Almost definitely. As long as your Apple TV runs tvOS, you can run tvOS 14 on it. That's any Apple TV prior to 2015.

Apple TV devices from 2014 and earlier run Apple TV Software which uses a channel style content installation system instead of apps. If you're not sure which Apple TV you own, look for an App Store. If you don't have an App Store, you have an older Apple TV that doesn't support tvOS.

How do I get tvOS 14 on my Apple TV?

Your Apple TV should prompt you that you have an update available to install, or it may automatically update overnight. If, however, you want to get to the fun stuff without waiting, you can manually update.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple TV.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Software Update.

From here, you can manually install the Apple TV update.

Any questions:?

Do you have any questions about tvOS 14? Put them in the comments and we'll help you out!

Updated September 2020: Updated for the public launch of tvOS 14.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).