tvOS 13: All the News and Features of Apple’s Next TV Operating System

After unveiling being unveiled at this year’s WWDC 2019 conference, the tvOS 13 public beta is ready to download on Apple TV and Apple TV 4K – all you need to do is go to the software update section.

The big differences for tvOS 13 are that it will finally offer multi-user support with personalized recommendations, a new-and-improved Control Center, improvements to the TV App ahead of Apple TV Plus, as well as be compatible with both the Xbox One and PS4 DualShock 4 controller for Apple Arcade play.

Here’s everything we know about Apple’s next TV smart platform after the official announcement:

tvOS 13 release date

The public beta of tvOS 13 is available to all testers now. We still aren’t sure when it will be ready for public roll out, but based on previous years, global availability on Apple TV and Apple TV 4K should happen sometime in September or October – around the time Apple could launch its Apple TV Plus streaming service.

A screenshot of what Blue Planet looks like on Apple tvos 13
tvOS 13 will have personalized recommendations for everyone in your home – here’s what Blue Planet looks like. Image Credit: Apple

tvOS 13 news and features

New home screen and multi-user support

The most important update coming to tvOS 13 is the new home screen, which will offer better recommendations for everyone in the family. For this to work, each user in the home will need their own profile, including your kids, but when it’s setup you’ll see TV shows, movies and music recommendations personalized to you.

What’s unclear at this point is if those profiles will need to be tied to an Apple account or if there will be one master account that has the payment info for everyone – attaching a credit card to a kid’s account sounds like a potentially awful idea, but it seems likely that Apple will adopt Parental Controls for these accounts.

So how will you switch between accounts? Apparently, you’ll be using Control Center.

Shown briefly on-stage during the keynote, Control Center on tvOS will be the brains behind the operation – allowing you to switch accounts, access settings and sync devices. That last bit is important because…

Apple tvOS will support Xbox One and PS4 controllers

It was apparent that Apple Arcade would require controllers ever since it was announced last year – how else could you play 3D platformers like Oceanhorn 2?

Now we know exactly which controllers we’ll be using: the Xbox One and PS4 DualShock 4 gamepads.

Apple announced that Microsoft and Sony’s first-party controllers would be compatible with tvOS in the next update, whenever it arrives.

There are still a few question marks here – like what functionality, if any, will the DualShock 4’s touchpad have on the Apple TV – but it’s the first time Apple has ever announced compatibility with Sony and Microsoft’s gaming hardware on-stage at a WWDC, so that’s big news in and of itself.

A screenshot of Oceanhorn on tvOS13
Here’s what OceanHorn looks like on tvOS13. Image Credit: Apple.

Apple Music lyrics and a new screensaver

We knew Apple Music would play a key role at WWDC this year, just not on Apple TV. That said, however, we’re happy it made an appearance.

New on tvOS 13 will be the ability to see lyrics on Apple Music in time with the song – a minor feature, but one that’s nice to see all the same. To go alongside the new lyrics, you’ll also see personalized song recommendations on the new home screen based on your listening habits to help you find that next hit.

The last new feature Cook mentioned was a new screen saver that Apple shot in 4K HDR. It’s of a coral reef and it should turn a few heads when it arrives on tvOS 13.

Picture-in-picture mode

As we move through the various tvOS 13 beta releases, we’re seeing features that weren’t announced on stage at WWDC 2019 – like a picture-in-picture mode for the Apple TV app, so you can minimize a video to a small thumbnail in the corner of the screen while you get on with something else.

We’re expecting the PiP mode feature to be retained in the final version of tvOS 13, though it might get tweaked along the way. It would be good to see it support other apps besides Apple’s own, for instance.