The Apple TV, Apple’s excellent streaming box slash HomeKit smart home hub, has a few updates coming with tvOS 16. The update is due to launch this fall, but if you want to get a jump-start on the new features you can download the public beta today.
What are the new features on tvOS 16?
As my colleague Chris Welch noted following its announcement in June at Apple’s WWDC conference, the tvOS16 updates are relatively minor. Although that’s not to say some people won’t find them useful. Better cross-device connectivity between your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch could be a boon to Apple Fitness users, among others, and more game controller support — including Nintendo Joy-Cons — will make for some fun family game nights in my household. There are also some improvements coming to multi-user support on the AppleTV, as well as a few other tweaks and updates.
For users of Apple’s HomeKit smart home platform, tvOS 16 will bring support for Matter, although it won’t go live until the standard is officially released later this year. Matter is a new smart home connectivity protocol that will allow more devices to work in the HomeKit platform and be controlled by voice through Siri. You will need an Apple TV or HomePod as a HomeKit hub to take advantage of Matter in HomeKit. (Currently, it sounds like it won’t work with an iPad as your home hub.)
Before you install the beta
Be warned that there is no going back once you install the beta. If you have problems, which is always possible with beta software, you will have to unenroll from the program and live with those problems until the official release catches up with your device. If you have an Apple TV HD, you can restore it to its factory settings, but that’s not an option with the Apple TV 4K model.
What devices support tvOS 16?
- Apple TV 4K (2021)
- Apple TV 4K (2017)
- Apple TV HD
How to download tvOS 16 public beta
- Sign up for Apple’s beta program, or sign in if you’re an existing member
- Once you’re signed in, click on the tvOS tab
- If you haven’t participated in the beta yet, you will need to enroll your Apple TV
- Now go to your Apple TV and access the settings menu. Go to Accounts, and sign in with the same Apple ID you used to register for the beta program.
- Next, go to Settings > System > Software Update and toggle on Get Public Beta Updates
- Update your Apple TV to the latest beta, and turn on Automatic Updates (found on the same screen) to get the latest beta software installed as it rolls out.