In addition to the launch of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 today, tvOS 14 is now available for those who want to experience the future of Apple TV today. While it may not look so different from what you’re currently using, the latest version has some extremely great features that are worth updating – if you know where to look. Let’s dive!
tvOS 14: Compatibility
tvOS 14 works, you guessed it, all the Apple TV sets that come with the eponymous operating system included. This means that Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K get the latest and greatest, but older models without the App Store, such as third-generation and earlier Apple TV, are left out.
There it is official the list of supported devices, although quite short:
- Apple TV HD (4th generation)
- Apple TV 4K
tvOS 14: Same, but different
The biggest thing you will notice right off the bat in tvOS 14 is that it looks about the same as always. There are no drastic changes, such as the new iOS 14 home screen widgets and the Application Library here, just tiny small changes scattered here and there. This means you’ll swipe your Siri remote or Remote to get to your favorite shows and movies, just like before, which is important to keep things just a few clicks away.
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My favorite visual change in tvOS 14 is a small improvement in user profiles. Although profiles are certainly underused on tvOS, they are a crucial part of Apple TV’s Up Next experience. However, the actual memory of switching to a profile is something that everyone forgets, leading to all sorts of confusion and mixed queues.
This changes in tvOS 14 with a simple notification that appears every time you wake up your Apple TV from sleep. The notification greets everyone who was last logged in, complete with the person’s name and profile picture, making identification quick and easy. Of course, it is not an automatic process based on time or habits, but steps for babies.
Another small change in tvOS 14 is the way the wonderful Apple screen savers are presented. Surprisingly, Apple did not use the main WWDC video in June to announce new locations or even to mention the popular feature in general. However, behind the scenes, Apple has added a way to select which category of screen savers are displayed.
Hidden in the screen saver settings, you can now filter one or more of the four available categories: Landscape, Earth, Underwater, Cityscape. After discovering this feature, I immediately turned off Underwater, as jellyfish were certainly not a favorite in our household. However, it is a pity that we have to say goodbye to all those who save the screen with aquatic themes, because some of them were very beautiful. Here at tvOS 15?
tvOS 14: Picture-in-Picture
Ok, ok, there is only one visual change in tvOS 14 that you will notice, Picture-in-Picture! Apple knows that its TV is suitable for more than just excessive viewing, with fitness apps, games and more, all available for the platform. So, it has finally brought the exclusive feature of the iPad to the big screen and everything is excellent. However, PiP support is not free, as the feature only works with applications that have been updated to support it.
Enabling PiP in compatible applications, such as the Apple TV application, is not the easiest to present at this time. In essence, a small pop-up video cassette will appear when you watch the video, but it is not always displayed. I found that the most reliable way to make it appear is after the break, then the replay of a video. I would absolutely love for the feature to be turned on whenever you press the Home button while watching videos, but I’m sure it will bring frustration to those who just want to escape the home screen.
PiP also works great when streaming video from your iOS devices, which will be handy for those times when your content doesn’t have an Apple TV app. And for those wondering, yes, you can totally watch two of the same shows on the big screen through this method, if you really want to, because, why not?
tvOS 14: 4K all things
Respecting images, Apple TV gets some new 4K experiences in tvOS 14, if you have a 4K TV. First, the YouTube app will finally, Yes finally, supports streaming video in 4K at some point this year, probably with an application update. High-definition 4K resolution has long been a painful point for those of us caught between Apple and Google over video codecs on all of our favorite devices. In short, Google uses the VP9 codec for its YouTube catalog, which Apple has refused to support in favor of the AV1 codec.
Although we may never realize who gave up or what changed to bring this controversial feature to an end, Apple dropped the ad after the WWDC main video, as a tiny point for tvOS 14. Needless to say, I say, the addition is huge for the platform and is one that most users will use daily as soon as it drops to get their funny videos with cats.
Speaking of 4K, tvOS 14 also adds support for sharing high definition video recorded on the big screen via AirPlay. Of course, tvOS has always had the ability to show and play videos and photos directly from the Photos app via iCloud, but the ability to share in 4K via AirPlay makes Apple TV accessible to anyone in the household or even guests.
tvOS 14: HomeKit
Despite being on several of our wish lists, tvOS 14 does not bring the Home application to our TVs. tvOS do what however, it brings support for HomeKit cameras and your favorite accessories and scenes in a surprisingly elegant way.
Available in the tvOS control center, which is accessible by long pressing the Home button on the Siri remote, you can now swipe through all your HomeKit cameras with a full-screen view with sound at another click. Before tvOS 14, HomeKit cameras were only available through third-party applications, which lacked all the sounds due to the platform’s limitations.
Aside from the default screen savers on Apple TV, a live stream from one of my outdoor cameras is one of my favorite things I have in the background during my day, and now, with sound support, it do what so better.
So far, the camera experience in tvOS 14 has been great, but I’ve seen a few bugs where the full screen view will stop randomly or the sound will stop playing. I’m not sure if the function is meant to have some kind of time limit, but I’ve seen it both ways, where the feed will stop after a minute or so, or not at all, which makes me think that it’s a beetle.
HomeKit Sounds will also accept notifications in tvOS 14 whenever one that supports HomeKit Secure Video becomes available. Combined with face recognition technology, tvOS will present a live view in a small window when a bell rings, complete with the name of the person at the door.
This feature works with the tagging of photos that you may already be using on iOS and macOS, there is no need to train the Home app or manually assign names. If you want to do a little work, you can access a log of all home visitors in the Home app on iOS, but you shouldn’t need it, which it should be.
Accessory orders are also available through the same Control Center screen, but are limited to those marked as favorites in the Home app. The scenes on the big screen look a bit like the Control Center on iOS 14, with any custom icon you’ve assigned, making them easier to watch.
While I absolutely love that Apple has brought support scenes, I still want the day when a full Home app is available on TV. This is mainly due to the way I use HomeKit, which involves a small amount of scenes for specialized tasks, as I tend to rely on automations and voice commands via HomePod to do my dirty work.
tvOS 14: Games
The addition of Apple Arcade last year gave new life to the gaming scene on Apple TV after years of stagnation and notable title departures. In tvOS 14, Apple continues to intensify its gaming efforts using Game Center, another platform-specific feature that has apparently been brought back from the dead.
Through user profiles, the Arcade games on tvOS 14 will sync and resume progress on all Apple platforms. So the next time a member of your household wants to continue where he left off in Sneaky Sasquatch or Crossy Road Castle, he can do so without destroying your progress or spending all the hard-earned money. As you probably guessed, this bit me before, as I do Fairly Sasquatch fan.
The Game Center functionality of tvOS 14 also introduces deeper social elements into the game and through the App Store and Arcade applications. User profiles will display player-specific friend lists for easier access to achievements, challenges, and invitations. Game Center suggestions will also appear online through each showcase, with titles your friends have recently played and progress in achievements to encourage involvement.
Finally, as much as I would like to see Apple give up its own game controllers to support the platform, tvOS 14 expands compatible options. Along with traditional Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers, tvOS 14 adds support for the Xbox Elite 2 at incredible prices, as well as the extremely great Xbox adaptive controller.
tvOS 14: Audio
Prior to the unveiling of tvOS 14 earlier this year, we were excited about the vision of setting up HomePod as a permanent audio output for Apple TV. Unfortunately, this did not materialize, but we still managed to get a nice audio function in its place.
Audio sharing is now connected to tvOS, allowing you to set up two pairs of AirPods or select Beats headphones as the audio output. Since I’m the only one in my household who has iconic ear buds, I haven’t been able to test this feature yet, but I can easily see this being extremely useful in situations where more people want to enjoy great audio sounds, but he has to keep things quiet in the house.
tvOS 14: Privacy and restrictions
When it comes to TV, privacy is not a topic we often think about, except for those times when smart TVs are caught sending everything we do to data brokers or even sharing images from built-in cameras. Say what you want about the price and capabilities of Apple TV compared to cheaper alternatives, but I appreciate the level of commitment that Apple takes to privacy for all its platforms, which makes it worthwhile for me.
In iOS 14 and tvOS 14, Apple has introduced a new tracking setting that now applies to third-party applications. Applications developed for tvOS 14 will now require a user’s permission to watch the first release, which uses an identifier that combines activity in certain applications.
Now, I’m sure there are some legitimately useful features that could be enabled by combining data between applications, but you better think I turned this off completely after I discovered the feature. If you choose to disable it, you will be given the option to disable it for all applications or allow applications that you have allowed to continue to track and stop subsequent requests.
Moving on to the restrictions, the changes in tvOS 14 refer to the Game Center to go along with the emphasis on extended user profiles. New settings are available to disable nearby Multiplayer, Private Messaging, Avatar, and name changes and profile privacy changes, all of which can help provide a safe gaming experience for everyone.
tvOS 14: More income
While tvOS 14 doesn’t have a lot of new features, like iOS 14, it is still an important step forward for the living room, with features like Picture-in-Picture and HomeKit integration. I’ve really enjoyed the latest additions over the last few months and, surprisingly, it’s been stable enough to be implemented in the most used TVs in the house, so overall, tvOS 14 is a solid version.
In addition, it will only get better over time, once the YouTube app wins 4K, Apple Fitness + makes its debut and as HomeKit Secure Video compatible sounds actually make their appearance.
Are you upgrading to tvOS 14 on Apple TV? If so, which feature pushed you over the edge? Are you already living that tvOS 14 life? What is your favorite feature so far? Tell us in the comments below!
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