Alongside today's release of its flagship iPhone software, iOS 17, Apple has also rolled out an update to the operating system powering Apple TV with the launch of tvOS 17. The most notable feature of the update is that Apple will now allow users to FaceTime from their Apple TV for the first time. Later this year, the device will also support other web conferencing calls with new tvOS apps from Cisco's Webex and Zoom, the company also says.
Apple initially announced its plans for the FaceTime feature at its Worldwide Developer Conference this June. The feature takes advantage of the Continuity Camera on an iPhone or iPad, which lets the mobile device double as a webcam, wirelessly. Developers can integrate with the Continuity Camera APIs on the Apple TV 4K in order to make their communication or entertainment apps work on the big screen.
For example, Apple is using Continuity Camera with Apple Music Sing on the Apple TV -- its karaoke-like party feature that lets you sing along with your favorite music.
While FaceTime is the standout feature in tvOS 17, the update delivers a handful of other additions to the TV software, including a redesigned control center, a lost TV remote finding function, support for improved dialogue, and more.
The new Control Center on the Home Screen will now display the system status, including the time and activity profile, and expands with other details, based on user activity, Apple says. For example, the Control Center will help Apple TV owners do things like access their AirPods settings, home cameras, system controls, and user profiles with a touch of the remote.
Users can also launch the Apple TV Remote inside the Control Center on their iPhone to find a missing Siri Remote, second generation or later. As they get closer to the remote, the onscreen circle grows in size to help them find their lost device.
Apple TV will also now support the ability to use curated photos from your personal library or Shared Library as a screensaver -- a baseline feature other media players like Roku and Fire TV have already offered.
Apple also says it's made improvements to separate the dialogue from the background noise and bring it to the center channel so it's easier to hear what's being said over the effects, action and music in a movie or show when the Apple TV 4K is paired with a HomePod 2nd. generation.
While many of the tvOS upgrades are aimed at Apple TV 4K, both Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD users will gain expanded Siri functionality, which will allow them to ask more general questions and receive responses, rather than only questions about things on TV.