Apple refreshes tvOS with a horde of improvements

Apple introduced its revised vision of Apple TV alongside tvOS 9 last year, bringing its set-top box almost on par with its iOS powered mobile devices. This year, the company is further improving on that vision with a range of tweaks that, while not revolutionary, will certainly make an already pleasant living room experience that much better.

The first of these improvements is simply an increase in the choices you have. What used to be only 80 channels at launch is now 1300 channels. The company has also seen an exponential growth in the number of apps available, approaching 6000 in the last seven months, with more exciting debuts, such as Sling, Fox Sports Go and Molotov, on their way. Also on show are a number of games, from a variety of sports titles to Minecraft's Story Mode.

How you interact with the Apple TV is also getting a bit of a revamp. For one, you can now use your iPhone to simulate the Siri Remote that comes with it, allowing you to use the microphone for communicating with Siri and the phone's built-in accelerometer for controlling games.

Siri is also getting refined, letting you now search through over 650,000 movies and series, alongside the entire YouTube catalogue, with a simple voice command. Also coming soon is the ability to tune in to live programming from certain supported broadcasters by simply asking Siri to put it on (dubbed Live Tune-In).

To make your life easier, a Dark Mode changes the background to a darker shade. In that vein of making life easier, Apple is also introducing Single Sign On, which allows you to do away with the hassle of authenticating and signing in to every network app you use. Instead, you can just sign in to your Apple TV once and voila, all your apps are available without jumping through any hoops.. The feature is also coming to iOS.

Which brings us to the increasing synergy between the Apple TV and iOS. Alongside the above, users no longer need to download apps on different devices. Once an app is installed on the iPhone, tvOS will automatically find and download the app for you.

For developers, the upgrade promises an expanded toolbox of options, including the ability to allow users to livestream their gaming sessions or save the video for sharing later. There will also be support for multiplayer gaming and multiple controller support allowing friends to play together. Support for HomeKit and the Internet of Things is also on the table.

Developers can get their hands on a preview of the new tvOS today, while consumers will have to wait until Fall 2016.

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