How to use Control Center on Apple TV

Control Center Apple TV

The tvOS 13 update brought out Control Center for the first time on your Apple TV.

Although Control Center for Apple TV is far from being as developed as on iPhone or iPad, the concept is the same as ever: give people direct access to important settings for the device.

TUTORIAL: How to add multiple users to Apple TV

Control Center for Apple TV was announced by Apple CEO Tim Cook as part of the tvOS 13 segment in the keynote talk that kicked off the Worldwide Developers Conference, which took place June 3 -7 in San Jose, California.

Therefore, you must update your Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K to the latest tvOS 13 software or later in order to get Control Center functionality.

Follow along with iDB as we teach you how to use the new Control Center in tvOS 13.

How to use Control Center on Apple TV

Like with other Apple devices, Control Center for Apple TV can be summoned at any time while you’re using an app or interacting with the tvOS user interface.

To bring the Control Center overlay up, just press and hold the Home button on your Siri Remote for a second or two. Control Center should swoosh in from the right edge of the screen. Before tvOS 13, holding the Home button used to invoke the Sleep menu.

To dismiss Control Center, press the Home or Menu button on your Siri Remote.

Like on iOS, it’s is a translucent panel with a frosted glass appearance that appears on top of anything displayed on the screen. Unlike iOS’s Control Center which takes up the whole screen, the Apple TV version is a vertical column about one-fourth of the screen width.

The following Control Center sections are available:

  • Date and Time: The current date/time is shown at the top of the overlay, using the format based on your language set in Settings → General → Region.
  • Apple TV users: A scrollable list of users you can quickly switch between.
  • Sleep: Put your Apple TV and all of the connected devices to sleep.
  • Now Playing: The Now Playing card indicates what’s currently playing.
  • AirPlay: Access your AirPlay menus.

A detailed description of each shortcut follows right below.

The available Control Center widgets

Date and time

I’ve always wanted an optional permanent mini-clock in a corner of the tvOS interface, but Apple obviously didn’t pay attention to my feature requests so no cigar so far. The new Control Center in tvOS 13 is the closest thing to a clock on Apple TV.

Control Center Apple TV
Quick, what time is it… in Croatia?

Telling time is a neat feature to have in Control Center, but I’m going to keep asking Siri what time it is when unsure if it’s nap time already.

Switching users

Each user account on your Apple TV is represented in Control Center by its name along with the circular profile image. To quickly switch to a different Apple TV user account, highlight it with the remote, then click the Touch surface.

Control Center Apple TV
Fast user switching via tvOS 13’s Control Center.

This is essentially the Control Center shortcut for the new user-switching feature in tvOS 13 that can also be accessed through Settings → Users and Accounts → Current User.

Go to sleep

Before tvOS 13, you put your Apple TV to sleep by bringing up the Sleep menu with a long-press of the Siri Remote’s Home button on the Home screen. tvOS 13 has remapped that action to the new Control Center, which includes a Sleep shortcut. Simply highlights the Sleep widget, then click the Touch surface to put the device to sleep.

tvOS Control Center Apple TV
tvOS 13 let you put your Apple TV to sleep via the new Control Center interface.

This will also put to sleep all devices connected to this Apple TV’s HDMI port, like your television and hi-fi equipment. Alternatively, choose Settings → Sleep Now.

Press any button on the remote to wake the device from sleep.

What’s playing?

Like in Control Center for iOS, the Now Playing card in the tvOS Control Center displays basic information about the song currently playing on this Apple TV through the Music app, like song title, album and artist name as well as cover artwork.

tvOS Control Center Apple TV
Click the Now Playing card to open the Music app.

The Now Playing card does not show any media information other than music so don’t count on it to view the title of the currently playing movie or TV show. Highlighting the card and clicking the Touch surface takes you to the Now Playing screen in the Music app.

Accessing AirPlay

Now you can access tvOS’s AirPlay menus through the new Control Center feature in tvOS 13.

Unfortunately, this is a simple shortcut that takes you to the AirPlay selection menus that we first saw implemented in the tvOS 11 software update. While you cannot choose between the AirPlay sources from within tvOS 13’s Control Center, Apple still lets you hold down the Siri Remote’s Play button on the Home screen to bring up detailed AirPlay menus, like before.

tvOS Control Center Apple TV
Clicking the AirPlay icon in the Control Center overlay…

If you’ve used these before, you know the drill: swipe left/right to move between the AirPlay 2 devices in your home and up/down to turn individual devices on or off, like your Apple TV, an AirPlay 2 speaker in the kitchen, a HomePod in your living room etc.

tvOS AirPlay menus
…takes you to this screen (accessible even faster by holding your remote’s Play/Pause button on the Home screen).

You can also press and hold a source that’s currently playing audio to adjust the volume. If you own AirPods, this menu is how you switch to the earbuds on your Apple TV.

Searching across your media

Many people are unaware of the Search app on their Apple TV.

I conduct most of the searches on my Apple TV using Siri. By holding the dedicated Siri button on the Siri Remote, I can invoke Siri anywhere I am in tvOS to speak into my remote and quickly search for something. But if you prefer to browse your search results (laid out in content groups like Movies, Apps, TV Shows etc.), you’ll need to use the Search app instead.

tvOS Control Center Apple TV
The Search app has its own shortcut in tvOS 13’s Control Center.

In tvOS 13, the Search shortcut is the last option near the bottom-right corner of Control Center. Highlight the icon and click the Touch surface to open the Search app. Like in earlier tvOS editions, the Search app still has its own dedicated icon on the Home screen.

The Search app gives you more control over search results than Siri.

Before signing off, just a quick reminder that the iOS 13 update includes several Control Center enhancements for iPhone and iPad, including a very neat feature allowing you to quickly connect to nearby Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth accessories.

The new Apple TV features in tvOS 13

tvOS 13 packs in the following features and enhancements:

  • Refined Home screen: The Home screen has received visual refinements and can now play full-screen video previews from media apps and games in the background.
  • New screen savers: tvOS 13 includes a stunning new 4K HDR underwater screen saver, filmed in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit, showing mesmerizing creatures and immersive scenes from the depths of oceans around the world.
  • Multi-user support: The new Control Center includes quick-access toggles to features like system sleep, audio routing and account switching, which gets everyone their own personalized entertainment experience—each user account sees their unique Up Next list and receives TV and movie recommendations in the TV app based on their tastes.
  • Apple Music: With multi-user support, the Music app lets everyone enjoy their own personalized playlists and recommendations. As a nice bonus, you can quickly access the currently playing song in the new Control Center. As a bonus, onscreen lyrics timed in sync with songs are now available in the Music app for the first time.
  • Apple Arcade: Launching in Fall 2019, Apple Arcade will let a family of six play 100+ premium ad-free games with no in-app purchases whatsoever across iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Apple TV with a single monthly subscription.
  • Xbox and PlayStation controllers: tvOS 13 adds support for Microsoft’s Xbox controller and Sony’s DualShock 4 wireless Bluetooth controller. These accessories will automatically work with App Store games that support MFi controllers. Many of the games included in Apple Arcade will offer support for game controllers.
  • Control Center: Press and hold the Home button on the Siri Remote to show the new Control Center overlay with quick options to switch between Apple TV users and access common features like AirPlay, Search and Music.

And of course, tvOS 13 packs in Apple’s much-improved TV app with subscription channels like Starz and HBO NOW, Siri-powered personalized recommendations, 100,000+ iTunes movies and TV shows, picture-in-picture support and a few other perks. As for Apple TV+, the company’s original video subscription service, it will be available in the TV app this fall.

Apple TV multiple accounts
Aside from other features, tvOS 13 brings picture-in-picture to Apple TV.

The app is also available on other Apple devices and—as if that weren’t enough—on select third-party platforms including new Smart TVs from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Vizio, LG, etc.

tvOS 13 compatibility

tvOS 13 is compatible with the following devices:

  • Apple TV HD
  • Apple TV 4K

For additional details about the tvOS 13 update, read Apple’s press release.

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