Apple yesterday released the tvOS 14 software update that brings new capabilities and feature enhancements to the company’s Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K digital media players. Some of the big ones you’ve already heard about, such as an expanded Picture in Picture feature and multiuser support for Apple Arcade. With the media’s attention focused on the headline-grabbing improvements in iOS 14, we thought you might also want to learn about everything new in tvOS 14 so here it goes…
What’s new in tvOS 14?
Without further ado, here are all the new Apple TV features in the tvOS 14 software.
A year ago, iOS 13 brought audio sharing to the iPhone and iPad. And now, tvOS 14 enables audio sharing on your Apple TV. This feature makes it easy to connect two sets of AirPods or other compatible headphones to your Apple TV so you can enjoy movies with a friend or your significant other without disturbing others around you.
Simply connect two sets of AirPods in the Settings app on your Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K and you’re ready to share your viewing experience. Each set of wireless earbuds gets separate volume controls in the tvOS Control Center.
Aside from the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the feature works on these Beats products:
- Solo Pro wireless headphones
- Powerbeats wireless earphones
- Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones
- Powerbeats3 wireless earphones
- Beats Solo3 wireless headphones
- Beats Studio3 wireless headphones
- BeatsX wireless earphones
Audio sharing also works on the iPhone and iPad models compatible with iOS 13.0+.
Expanded Picture in Picture
tvOS 13 brought Picture in Picture to the Apple TV for the first time, but the handy feature was confined to the TV app. You could watch a show from the TV app in a small overlay window while using another app, but that was it. Thankfully, tvOS 14 has brought support for Picture in Picture to any third-party Apple TV app that chooses to implement this feature. This lets you enjoy two videos at once, browse for something new while a video plays in the corner of your screen.
If a video app supports Picture in Picture, you should see a Picture in Picture button appears above the progress indicator when you tap the Siri Remote. Swipe up from the bottom to highlight the button, then click the remote to enter Picture in Picture.
Now you can watch a movie while you keep an eye on the latest sports or check the weather while binging a TV series. How about playing a game while watching content by your favorite gamer? As long as your favorite Apple TV app supports tvOS 14’s expanded Picture in Picture feature, you’ll be able to use it on your big-screen TV. You can even use AirPlay to send a video from another device like your iPhone to a Picture in Picture window on your Apple TV.
Better smart home support
Great news for fans of home automation — tvOS 14 supports HomeKit cameras. This makes it possible to get a live video feed from your home security camera. Just ask Siri to view any camera at any time.
You can also see all your HomeKit cameras in the Control Center and trigger custom scenes. Some cameras may even display a notification on your Apple TV if someone rings your smart doorbell or an unknown face shows up at your doorstep.
Multiuser for Apple Arcade gaming
Last year’s tvOS 13 release brought initial multiuser support to the Apple TV, letting you add users and switch between them. Each user got their own personalized recommendations and the Up Next list in the Music and TV apps and more. tvOS 14 expands multiuser support to make it easier for multiple people to play games with your Apple Arcade subscription.
Now switching accounts on the fly creates an even more custom experience for gaming, with each user seeing just their individual game progress, achievements, leaderboards, friends list and invitations. And with the Continue Playing option in Apple Arcade on the App Store, users can pick up right where they left off without affecting other profiles.
Expanded game controller support
tvOS 13 brought native support for the PlayStation and Xbox controllers, but it felt half-baked because it lacked support for haptic feedback, button remapping and more. With tvOS 14, you can connect more of your favorite controllers to your Apple TV and remap their buttons.
Specifically, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 and Xbox Adaptive Controllers are now supported, too, not only in tvOS but also across iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur.
Summit up, tvOS 14 supports all these game controllers:
- Xbox Wireless Controller with Bluetooth (Model 1708)
- Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
- Xbox Adaptive Controller
- PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller
- Other MFi (Made for iOS) Bluetooth controllers
To create custom button mapping, just select your controller in the Bluetooth section of the Settings app. From there, you can customize a specific Apple TV app for your game controller or assign specific controls to buttons systemwide. Button customizations vary across controllers.
More screen saver options
Aside from birds-eye views of major locales, the Aerial screen saver includes gorgeous underwater scenes and NASA’s live footage of our planet from the International Space Station. Before tvOS 14, however, you couldn’t choose which Aerial categories to include in rotation.
tvOS 14 lets you choose only the locations you want to see, like Underwater or Cityscape. Use the Settings app to choose which types of Aerials will cycle onscreen.
The following Aerial categories are at your disposal:
With the screen saver active, you can tap the remote’s Touch surface to see where the scene was shot or swipe left and right to cycle through the locales.
AirPlay in 4K
AirPlay, Apple’s media streaming technology that works between nearby devices, has been enhanced in tvOS 14 to support 4K media. Previously, you couldn’t beam a 4K video you took on your iPhone to your big screen TV in 4K resolution, not even if your Apple TV support 4K video output. With tvOS 14, AirPlay now supports 4K.
Now you can finally stream 4K videos and share 4K images from the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV 4K in their full resolution. Needless to say, AirPlay in 4K is unsupported on the Apple TV HD media streamer that lacks 4K video output. You can also send something over AirPlay from another device to a Picture in Picture window on your Apple TV.
YouTube in 4K
Your favorite creators now look their best with the ability to watch YouTube videos in their full 4K glory on your Apple TV. tvOS 14 brings support for Google’s VP9 codec, which is the foundation of YouTube’s 4K library. No more 1080p YouTube videos on your Apple TV 4K!
The same codec is now supported on iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 and in Safari on macOS Big Sur. In other words, you can now enjoy not just YouTube in 4K but also other 4K content, like Netflix, across your Apple devices. And if you have a newer Mac, you can enjoy 4K in HDR Dolby Vision.
Audio controls in Control Center
Your audio sliders and other related controls have been moved around in tvOS 14.
Before iOS 14, you had to press the Home button on the remote to get to the tvOS Home screen, then you would press and hold the Play/Pause button to bring up the audio interface. In tvOS 14, you can get to these controls through the Control Center, which can be swooshed into view by holding the Menu button (you don’t need to exit to the Home screen).
Once in the Control Center, just highlight the AirPlay icon at the bottom and you’ll see your audio controls. Like before, you can play audio anywhere in your home from your Apple TV as long as your target device shows up in the tvOS audio menu.
tvOS 14 system requirements
At first blush, tvOS 14 looks like a maintenance release with just one or two major new features. But scratch under the surface and there’s plenty more to discover and enjoy. tvOS 14 certainly isn’t as feature-packed as iOS 14, a monster release even by Apple’s standard, but it’s nice seeing that Apple continues to invest in the Apple TV and tvOS platform.
So, what’s your favorite new Apple TV feature in the tvOS 14 update?
Let us know by leaving a comment down below!