tvOS 16 enables cross-device connectivity for third-party apps – Here’s how it works
Apple barely mentioned tvOS 16 during its WWDC 2022 kickoff event last week, but that doesn’t mean the update doesn’t come with new features. For some features, like support for more game controllers, tvOS 16 enables something called “cross-device connectivity” for third-party apps. Read on as we detail what this means for Apple TV users.
According to Apple, tvOS 16 enhances cross-device connectivity with more integration between iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. However, the company hasn’t provided any details on how this integration will work.
Now, thanks to a WWDC 2022 session, we have a better idea of what changes with the update, which comes with a new “DeviceDiscoveryUI” framework. With this framework, developers can create apps for both tvOS and iOS that communicate with each other over the local network. While developers can already create apps with such functionality, the new API makes this process much easier and provides a native interface.
To make it more clear what this API can do, just think about Apple Fitness+. If you have an Apple TV, you can open the Fitness+ app on tvOS and choose a workout right from there. The app automatically prompts you on your Apple Watch to start the workout, and then it uses data from your watch to display it on the TV in real time.
This is just one of the experiences that developers can now offer in their apps with the new framework. Apple also uses games as an example, which can now use iPhone, iPad, or even Apple Watch as a controller. Since this is a built-in API, users won’t need to open the app to initiate cross-device communication.
Of course, developers will have to update their apps to take advantage of the new framework.
More about tvOS 16
tvOS 16 is a discrete update, but it comes with new features like rich video previews in the Apple TV+ tab, Matter protocol support for home automation devices, enhanced multi-user, and compatibility with Nintendo Switch controllers.
Interestingly, Apple’s website mentioned that tvOS 16 added support for the HDR10+ standard in the Apple TV app for the first time. For those unfamiliar, HDR10+ is a high dynamic range technology for videos that competes with Dolby Vision. Samsung uses HDR10+ instead of Dolby Vision in its Smart TVs, so Apple TV+ subscribers can’t watch movies and shows in the best HDR quality.
Unfortunately, mentions of HDR10+ support have been removed from Apple’s website. The reasons are unknown, but perhaps this is because the technology wasn’t available for beta users and will come later this year once tvOS 16 is available for all Apple TV users.
Developers can now download the first beta of tvOS 16 via the Apple Developer website. A public beta version will be available next month with the official release expected this fall. It’s worth noting that tvOS 16 is compatible with Apple TV HD (fourth generation) and both Apple TV 4K models (fifth and sixth generation).