tvOS 17: Features, Release Date, Supported Devices & More!
Apple barely mentioned tvOS 17 at WWDC. Here are the few features coming to the Apple TV’s operating system.
Apple’s WWDC23 is now past. At the event, Apple unveiled several new operating systems, including iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS 14, watchOS 10, and tvOS 17. It’s that last operating system that powers the Apple TV Digital media player.
Despite all the new operating systems shown off at WWDC23, the Apple Vision Pro headset got the majority of screen time. However, iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 also saw a lot of attention.
But what about the operating system of the Apple TV? The bad news is fans of the device shouldn’t get too excited as Apple didn’t even have a section of the keynote dedicated to tvOS 17.
As a matter of fact, they only showed off a single feature coming to tvOS 17…
tvOS 17: FaceTime Comes To The Apple TV
Even the tvOS 16 update in 2022 was relatively minor in scale – the biggest feature of that update being Matter support. However, though tvOS 17 didn’t get screen time at the WWDC23 event, Apple did mention one new feature coming to the Apple TV’s tvOS 17: FaceTime support.
That’s right, tvOS 17 will see Apple add the FaceTime app to the Apple TV.
But how will this work, you might ask? The Apple TV doesn’t have a camera (yet). Well, Apple can get around this lack of camera support by allowing iPad and iPhone owners to use their devices as the Apple TV’s camera. Using Continuity Camera software technology, tvOS 17 will look for your iPhone’s or iPad’s camera and use that to broadcast your image to whoever you are video calling with. Then, the image of the people you are talking to will appear on your Apple TV screen.
Another cool feature about Facetime on Apple TV is that the app will support Center Stage, which means it will control your iPhone’s or iPad’s camera output to always keep you in the center of the screen – or zoom out if another person sits on the couch beside you.
From the preview Apple showed, the feature looks great.
tvOS 17: What About Other Features?
Apple didn’t show off any other new features of tvOS 17…and there’s likely a good reason why…
The problem with updating tvOS is that it’s not as versatile an operating system as macOS or iOS, so there are just fewer ways Apple can bring improvements to it. After all, the tvOS operating system is pretty good for the tasks it is made for already. The home screen is fluid and easy to navigate, there’s powerful Siri integration built into the device already, and users usually spend the most time in third-party apps, so that’s where big leaps usually come from.
Of course, there are some nice features Apple could introduce in tvOS 17. One feature many people want to see is a dedicated Apple Weather app. Apple finally brought the Weather app to iPad last year and Apple TV users are hoping the company brings the Weather app to tvOS 17 this year.
Another feature that would be nice to have is a dedicated Stocks app in tvOS just like iOS, macOS, and iPadOS have already. Some are also hoping Apple will bring a dedicated Apple News app to the Apple TV, though that would likely be harder for the company to do as it would need to strike major content deals with broadcast news operators.
tvOS 17: Supported Devices
As far as we know, tvOS 17 will continue to support all the devices tvOS 16 currently supports. Those devices include:
- Apple TV HD
- Apple TV 4K (first generation)
- Apple TV 4K (second generation)
- Apple TV 4K (third generation)
Given tvOS 17 is another minor update, there’s no technical reason Apple would have to abandon support for the older Apple TV models.
The Future Of The Apple TV Hardware
tvOS 17 will be a minor update. There are just not much more software enhancements that tvOS needs. And a big reason for that is that Apple TV hardware hasn’t changed that much in generations.
Of course, there are rumors that Apple is working on updated Apple TV hardware, though it’s not expected to launch in 2023. That updated Apple TV hardware includes a model with a built-in FaceTime camera with Center Stage support. This makes sense considering Apple is adding the FaceTime app in tvOS 17.
An Apple TV with a built-in FaceTime camera with Center Stage support would allow users to take FaceTime video calls right from their couch without needing to use their iPhone or iPad as the FaceTime camera. And since Center Stage can zoom in on the speaker there is no need for the user to move near to the Apple TV hardware to make a video call.
But until these new hardware features are introduced on Apple TV, it’s likely tvOS updates will continue to be minor in scale.