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Everything new coming to Apple TV in tvOS 16

Apple TV Home Screen

Despite no stage time at WWDC, Apple TV's tvOS 16 is still getting some new features this fall. We walk you through all of the changes you can expect to see on your devices.

More gaming

Gaming seemed to be a renewed focus for Apple this year at WWDC. During the macOS section of the keynote, Apple touted new games coming to the Mac as well as the all-new Metal 3.

On Apple TV, it had at least a couple of worthwhile additions. The biggest of which is support for many additional Bluetooth gaming controllers. That's a bit nebulous and Apple doesn't specify all the newly-supported controllers but it at least opens the door.

The one set of controllers Apple does point out is from Nintendo. Both the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons and Pro Controller are supported with tvOS 16.

Smart home

Another change with tvOS 16 will be full support of Matter. Matter is a new unifying smart home stand that will allow certified products to work across HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings among others.

Apple had initially supported it in beta with tvOS 15, but it wasn't available to consumers. Matter is scheduled to release this fall and Apple is ready with tvOS 16.

Apple TV 4K
Apple TV 4K

Visually, there isn't anything new with HomeKit or Matter support but Matter devices will be available to be controlled through the Apple TV and Apple's Control Center interface.

Cross-device compatibility

Another feature mentioned by Apple that is still a bit vague is improved support for cross-device compatibility. Here's how Apple describes it:

Integrate your tvOS app with your iOS, iPadOS, or watchOS app to unlock new experiences on Apple TV.
Cross-device compatibility for Apple Fitness
Cross-device compatibility for Apple Fitness

Apple is already using a version of this itself with Apple Fitness. It's how it pairs with your Apple Watch at the beginning of a workout. During a WWDC session, Apple went into further detail and gave some examples of how this could work.

Workout apps could deliver more personalized workout experiences and improved metrics by using motion data from Apple Watch. Video player apps can include timelines or real-time accompanying data on an iPhone or iPad as media plays. Or developers could create a second-screen experience for on iPhone as you play games on Apple TV, such as displaying maps.

Other changes and improvements

Other changes are a bit more minor. In the TV app, there are new rich video previews for Apple TV+ originals to boost discovery. Intensity levels are now called out on-screen during Apple Fitness+ workouts that vary from easy, to moderate, to hard, to all-out.

New user suggestions in Control Center
New user suggestions in Control Center

Additional family members are now suggested inside of Control Center. Under Settings > General there is a new toggle for 24 or 12 hour time formats. Accessibility has a new Hover Text option.

Finally, Apple added new SwiftUI elements for developers. New custom button styles and effects can improve the look, feel, and use of third-party apps.

Initially, tvOS 16 boasted support for HDR10+ but in the days following WWDC, these mentions have been removed. This could signal the removal of the planned feature or a delay to a future release.

Coming soon

Apple says tvOS 16 will support:

  • Apple TV fourth gen
  • Apple TV HD
  • Apple TV 4K
  • Apple TV 4K second gen

At the moment, tvOS 16 is currently in developer beta. A public beta is scheduled to be released in July before a full release this fall. Stay tuned to AppleInsider as we walk through more features for Apple's upcoming software updates.