Apple June 4 previewed the tvOS 12 operating system for Apple TV 4K with support for Dolby Atmos audio, new features to easily access shows and movies, and aerial screensavers shot from space. The company also announced that Charter Communications, the second-largest cable operator in the United States, will begin offering Apple TV 4K to its customers.
Apple TV 4K debuted last fall. The service offers customers the largest collection of 4K HDR movies, according to Apple, including free 4K HDR upgrades to previously purchased movies in customers’ iTunes libraries.
“This fall, iTunes will be home to the largest collection of Dolby Atmos-supported movies anywhere, and these titles will also include Dolby Atmos audio for free,” according to an Apple press release. “With tvOS 12, Apple TV 4K will be the only streaming player both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certified, delivering the highest quality cinematic experience of stunning 4K HDR visuals and immersive sound that flows all around in three-dimensional space.”
Also, later this year, Charter customers in nearly 50 million households will have access to live channels and tens of thousands of on-demand programs via an all-new Spectrum TV app on their Apple TV 4K, iPhone and iPad, integrated with Siri and the Apple TV App, Apple reported. In addition, as part of this collaboration, Charter will be offering iPhones and iPads to customers as they grow their mobile presence. Charter joins AT&T’s DirecTV Now in the United States, CANAL+ in France and Salt in Switzerland, which have begun offering customers Apple TV 4K with their services.
The Apple TV App on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV allows customers to find and watch TV shows and movies from more than 100 participating video apps in 10 countries, according to Apple. Single sign-on for Apple TV and iOS has allowed users to sign in once to get access to all the video apps available through their cable subscription. With tvOS 12, Apple further simplifies the authentication process with “zero sign-on.” Apple TV detects the user’s broadband network and automatically signs them in to all the supported apps they receive through their subscription — no typing required, according to Apple. Zero sign-on begins with Charter later this year and will expand to other providers over time.
In collaboration with the International Space Station National Lab and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Apple unveiled new aerials shot from space by NASA astronauts, “so Apple TV customers can enjoy even more stunning scenes filmed in 4K HDR,” according to Apple. Aerial screensavers will also be more interactive, allowing viewers to see the location information and swipe between dozens of aerials, the company noted.
Additional tvOS 12 features for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation make it easier for customers to access shows and movies, according to Apple:
— With iOS 12, users can securely AutoFill passwords from iPhone and iPad to Apple TV to easily sign in to Apple TV apps.
— The Apple TV Remote will be automatically added to Control Center on iPhone or iPad for Apple TV users, giving users quick access to Apple TV controls.
— Home control systems such as Control4, Crestron and Savant can be used to control Apple TV, including using Siri for voice search and control.
“The arrival of Dolby Atmos on Apple TV, ‘zero sign-on,’ a deal with Charter Spectrum, a new TV OS and, perhaps more tangentially, Siri support for third-party apps, all point towards an evolutionary product, rather than a revolutionary one, which we have become accustomed to from Apple over the years,” read a Futuresource Consulting blog in response to the announcements.
Futuresource estimates that there were approximately 21 million Apple TVs in use worldwide at the end of 2017, approaching half of these in the United States.
“Apple TV continues to add features, build partnerships and is clearly striving to offer the best quality digital streamer experience there is — albeit at a higher price than its competitors,” read the Futuresource blog. “Service partnerships will therefore be key to driving the attractiveness of the product and a channels approach, akin or better than Amazon Channels and Roku’s equivalent, will also be hugely important if Apple still wants to become the main entertainment hub in the home — something which Amazon arguably has gained a lead in.”
The new tvOS will be available this fall as a free software update for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation. For more information, visit apple.com/apple-tv-4K.