Apple releases tvOS 17, adding new features to its set-top box

Apple’s new tvOS 17 is out – here are the many new features it contains.

It’s a well-documented fact that tvOS doesn’t get the same reliable annual updates as iOS or macOS, but this year changed that. Apple has redesigned a significant portion of the Apple TV operating system with the release of tvOS 17, adding many new features to the console.

FaceTime, continuity camera, reactions

With the arrival of tvOS 17, owners of a second-generation Apple TV 4K or later updated to tvOS 17 will be able to use FaceTime. This is done through the Continuity Camera, which allows users to use an iPhone or iPad as a dedicated webcam for Apple TV.

With this update, Apple has provided full support for the Continuity Camera API for Apple TV, allowing you to integrate video into apps. Popular video conferencing platforms Cisco WebEx and Zoom promise to appear on the set-top box market by the end of the year.

Apple TV now includes a new feature called Reactions. These are video effects that can be activated with hand gestures. While Apple hasn’t revealed the full list of supported gestures, we triggered a thumbs-up bubble by simply giving one finger up. Additionally, two thumbs up resulted in a full-screen fireworks display appearing behind us.

Control center

The control center has also received significant updates. In the upper right corner of the main screen is a permanent display that displays various system information. This display shows the current time, any connected AirPods, whether music is playing, and which profile is currently active. To open it, simply hold down the TV button.

Available controls include a power button, Wi-Fi access, Do Not Disturb mode to mute notifications, Spotlight search, and AirPlay output options.

There are new options for managing game controllers, accessibility settings, and restrictions. The new sleep mode allows you to turn off the TV after 15, 30 minutes, 1 hour or two hours.

Apple Fitness Plus

Apple FitnessPlus also gets some notable changes in tvOS 17.

Users can now prioritize motivational instructions from a trainer or background music during a workout. This feature is called Audio Focus and can be accessed through the Audio in Video menu. Users can choose their preferred focus to enhance their workout.

The update also introduces stacks—groups of workouts that can be performed back-to-back without interruption. This eliminates the need to find and start a new workout after completing the first one.

Other changes in tvOS 17

Apple TV users now have the option to add a VPN directly to their device. Using third-party apps, your data on Apple TV can be masked, providing better privacy and security. Additionally, a VPN can help you customize the “location” of your Apple TV, which can be useful for bypassing location-based blackouts at sporting events.

If you often lose your remote, you now have the ability to use your iPhone to find it. Accessing the Remote app through Control Center in iOS 17 allows you to track down a lost remote if it’s nearby. Although you can’t activate the sound, the Bluetooth signal will help you get closer to it.