The New tvOS 10 Upgrade is an Apple TV Essential

A Solid Upgrade Sets the Scene for Future Improvements

Apple TV will become increasingly versatile

Apple has upgraded its tvOS software with tvOS 10, which ushers in all the promised improvements we talked about here: smarter Siri searches; Dark Mode; Single Sign-on; Photos and Music app improvements along with some smaller improvements. How do you use these new features?

The new tvOS should install automatically unless you’ve disabled automatic updates in Settings. You can update manually in Settings>Software Updates>Update Software on your Apple TV.

Siri Becomes Complex

When you ask Siri to find something you’ll find the assistant has grown smart enough to handle much more complex queries, such as asking Siri to find “high-school comedies from the ‘80’s,” or “this year’s best superhero movie”.

Siri has also learned how to search YouTube. When it does it understands complex searches, which means you can search for comedians by name, or channel footage, or celebrity spots from within specific time frames.

Darkness in the Den

The Dark Mode appearance setting turns the background of your Apple TV black instead of the bright off-grey color you’ve used until now. When might you use it? Some will prefer a darker screen if they’re watching television in a small room and don’t want too much extra light, or for an intimate evening watching movies.

You can toggle between the two settings in Settings>General>Appearance if you like, but it’s much simpler to press the Siri button and tell it, “Siri, set appearance to dark,” or “Siri, set appearance to light.”

Single Sign-On

Single Sign-On means you only need to sign into your TV apps once to authenticate them all. That’s really useful when you enter your cable or satellite subscription credentials as it provides you with immediate access to all the apps in your pay TV package that support single sign-on. This means it is particularly useful if you happen to use the HBO GO, FXNOW or many other TV apps, as it all leads to better support for Live Tune-InThis feature, unfortunately, did not make it into tvOS 10. We expect it to appear in the next update to tvOS.

Share the Memories

Your Apple TV just became a really neat way to share your photos thanks to significant improvements in Photos. Similar to the improvements you’ll find on iOS or the Mac, these new features mean you can explore automatically created digital albums of your favorite pictures created by a machine intelligence solution Apple calls “Memories”.

Memories will recognize places, faces, time and location information found within images and videos in your iCloud Photo Library to combine them together into themed groups you can watch on the big screen. To get the best from this feature you should enable iCloud Photo Library in iCloud Settings on all your iOS devices. You will find the collections you are offered on Apple TV are different from the ones you find on your Mac or iPhone. This is because Apple doesn’t sync Memories between devices in order to protect your privacy, instead, the process of creating these collections takes place right on your Apple TV

Apple Music

The biggest improvement to Apple Music is its clean and simple new user interface the company introduced for the app across all its products, including your Mac and iPhone. The primary categories are now split between Library (your stuff) and Apple Music offerings including For You, Browse, Radio and Search. You can listen to the radio channels for free, though exploring Apple Music playlists and other features requires a monthly fee.

Smart Home

The new tvOS also lets you control any HomeKit-compatible devices on the same network using Siri. This means you can turn on the lights, change room temperature, lock or unlock the front door or initiate any other smart device feature using your Apple Siri Remote. The limitation is that you must set your HomeKit devices up using the Home app on iOS 10 on your iPad or iPhone as the Apple TV does not have its own Home app for some reason.

Get the App

These aren’t the only improvements within tvOS 10. Automatic app downloads mean that when you download a compatible app to your iPhone or iPad it will automatically be downloaded to Apple TV. You can switch this feature on and off in Settings>Apps> Automatically Install Apps (on/off).

There’s More to Come…

Now Apple has shipped the latest edition of the Apple TV OS you can look forward to a fresh selection of apps from third-party developers. This is because Apple has introduced new software developers can use to create new experiences. These include tools to rebroadcast and share gameplay, photo sharing tools, four-game controller support and multi-peer connectivity that promises new and exciting multiplayer apps. Apple has also lifted the restriction demanding Apple TV games support the Siri Remote which should make for more complex games.

Conclusion: Is it worth it?

While the latest selection of updates may seem fairly light the main focus in this upgrade seems to be on opening the device up to developers and creating a framework that supports future improvements in what Apple TV can do. Most users will get a lot more from Siri and the pleasure of surfacing a forgotten memory in Photos will more than justify the few moments it takes to install this upgrade. If you haven't installed this update yet, you should.