Apple's WWDC 2021 Keynote announcements have come and gone, and the latest version of our favorite operating system for the big screen is now available to developers in beta. While they didn't get much Keynote love, these features for the Apple TV change how we control our TVs, share experiences with others, and allow us to keep tabs on the happenings in and around the home. Here are three tvOS 15 features that you may have missed from this year's dub-dub.
Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas (opens in new tab). While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.
Apple spent a lot of time highlighting new social features across all of its devices during the Keynote, with the bulk of time focusing on SharePlay. If you missed it, SharePlay allows you to share your music listening or binge-watching experiences with others by syncing everyone's playback through FaceTime.
What Apple didn't talk about, though, was how you set up SharePlay on the Apple TV since it lacks a FaceTime app. In typical Apple fashion, though, using SharePlay is relatively straightforward and pretty much automatic thanks to some magic behind the scenes.
During a FaceTime call, you can start the SharePlay experience by clicking on a new button located underneath the Now Playing widget in Control Center. Your Apple TV will automatically detect an active FaceTime call, and you can begin the session immediately so you don't have to worry about typing in long email addresses with the Siri Remote.
While the biggest HomeKit-related tvOS news centered around a fancy new multi-camera grid view and nearby accessory controls, tvOS 15 introduces a new way to interact with security accessories. After digging into the tvOS 15 beta, I discovered additional HomeKit activity notification settings that include updates from not just HomeKit cameras, but also other security accessories like door locks, and garage doors.
Now when one of your doors unlocks, when your garage door opens, or when a camera detects motion, tvOS 15 will display a notification in the top right corner of your TV's screen. When camera activity occurs, your HomeKit camera's live feed will pop up in a handy picture-in-picture overlay that sits on top of whatever is on your screen at the moment. If you want to see additional details, you can jump straight into a full-screen live view with just a click of the Siri Remote.
While you may think that these notifications would be distracting, having them on your TV means that you won't have to take your eyes off of the on-screen action just to find out that your neighbor's kid decided to take a stroll through your yard. Of course, you can customize your notification preferences as well, and you can leverage HomeKit Secure Video options that can filter out nuisance notifications from pets and vehicles.
Technically, this is more of an iOS feature, but Apple has introduced a revamped Apple TV remote app for Control Center in the latest versions of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. However, since I rely on the Control Center remote more than I do the actual Siri Remote, the changes are certainly worth mentioning.
The new remote app now includes additional buttons for several standard TV features. These include controls for changing your TV's channel, accessing settings, muting volume, and toggling power. The remote also changes up button labels and the layout for the Apple TV, with a large back button now featured prominently in the center of the screen underneath the touch area. The back button replaces the Menu button found on older Apple TV remotes keeping everything consistent with the latest Apple TV 4K hardware.
What are your favorite tvOS 15 features?
Find any hidden tvOS features that we may have missed, or have a feature that excites you the most? Let us know in the comments below!
I’m most excited that Spatial Audio is finally coming to Apple TV.
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