tvOS 17: lots of big upgrades are coming to Apple TV

Apple tvOS includes FaceTime for the first time on a Apple TV
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has unveiled tvOS at its WWDC conference, the latest update for its Apple TV 4K media streamer. While there isn't much in the way of AV upgrades, there are a few notable new features for navigation and the user experience.

The biggest news is the redesigned control centre, which will give you easy access to various settings including audio output to AirPods or HomePod(s), a quick search function, wi-fi settings and power options. From the brief look we got at the new control centre, we saw the option to quickly change Spatial Audio settings including head tracked or fixed and enable spatialised stereo. There are new system status indicators too, including the time and which user is logged in, as well as a way to quickly switch users. 

There is a quick reference to Dolby Atmos under this Spatial Audio settings menu which looks (to us at least) like a quick way to see if your Apple TV is outputting Atmos as well as a way to quickly tweak Atmos settings on AirPods.

As for dedicated AV upgrades, Apple buried some references to Dolby Vision 8.1 support, which it says will allow for a "more cinematic visual experience" via dynamic metadata across a broad range of content and streaming platforms. There will also be an Enhance Dialogue mode, which will reportedly allow for clearer speech over explosions and other loud sound effects, much like what we've seen from Amazon Prime recently. 

You'll need to HomePod 2 in order to enable Enhance Dialogue mode and the process involves separating dialogue from the background noise, moving it forward to the centre channel. 

Those who often lose their Apple TV remote between the sofa cushions can now breathe a sigh of relief, as Find My is coming to the Apple TV Siri Remote, meaning you can dip into the Find My iPhone app which will point you towards your missing remote - a neat feature for sure.

The third and final feature that Apple highlights with tvOS 17 is FaceTime, which is making its debut on the Apple TV 4K. You will soon be able to accept a call on your iPhone and continue said call on your TV screen via an Apple TV. Simply position your iPhone next to your TV and use its cameras to continue your video call, but that's not the only new FaceTime feature. 

FaceTime SharePlay is also coming to the Apple TV, meaning you can watch content in sync with whoever you are on the call with. Your content from an Apple TV app will play on the left-hand section of the screen, while your FaceTime call continues on the right-hand side. 

While these new features are certainly not AV focused by any means, they do add new functionality and usability to the tvOS experience.


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Lewis Empson
Staff Writer

Lewis Empson is a Staff Writer on What Hi-Fi?. He was previously Gaming and Digital editor for Cardiff University's 'Quench Magazine', Lewis graduated in 2021 and has since worked on a selection of lifestyle magazines and regional newspapers. Outside of work, he enjoys gaming, gigs and regular cinema trips.