Apple has taken the wraps off its latest version of tvOS for the Apple TV at WWDC 2021. Apple’s 2021 Worldwide Developer Conference was relatively light when it came to groundbreaking new streaming entertainment features. However, the company did highlight some new additions coming to the next version of its streaming software platform: tvOS 15.
For one, spatial audio support will be coming to tvOS later this year, which gives users of the company’s AirPods Pro and AirPods Max some interesting private listening options.
Earlier in the WWDC2021 Keynote, they announced the most notable enhancement to the platform, a feature called SharePlay, allowing you to stream video with your friends through FaceTime. While you can watch it on your phone or tablet, you can also AirPlay to your Apple TV, so you can watch on a bigger screen while continuing your video chat.
They are also adding AirPlay support to the Mac as part of macOS Monterey. So you can AirPlay from your iPhone or iPad and use your Mac display as a larger screen.
Spatial audio attempts to recreate directional, surround sound through compatible headphones, making it seem like you’re listening via a set of speakers instead of just a pair of headphones. Exactly how successful it is might depend on the individual, but Apple TV users will get the opportunity to try it out via tvOS 15.
Apple says the feature also includes dynamic head tracking, which accounts for user movement as you shift positions around the room. The idea is to adjust the surround sound simulation to account for where you are and where your head is pointed, so the virtual “front” speakers, for instance, still sound like they’re coming from near your TV even as you move around. Support for Spatial Audio with AirPods Pro and AirPods Max is also coming to tvOS 15.
Apple demonstrated the feature using an episode from Apple TV+, but SharePlay also features Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, NBA, Twitch, TikTok, MasterClass, ESPN+, Paramount+, and Pluto TV. Apple also said that there would be an API available to third-party apps and streaming services compatible with SharePlay.
tvOS 15 will bring in shows and movies friends and family have shared with you via Messages into the TV app into a new section called “Shared With You.” In addition, if you live with multiple people with different viewing habits, there is a new section called “For All of You”, which finds suitable recommendations for everyone.