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.
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.
Elsewhere during the keynote address, the company also shared that its HomePod mini smart speakers will soon be compatible with Apple TV, allowing them to be used as the main speakers. You’ll also be able to use “Hey Siri” on the HomePod mini to queue up content on your Apple TV. That’ll give users a hands-free voice option in addition to the push-to-activate version available on the Apple TV’s own Siri Remote.
Meanwhile, the Apple TV app gains some new content display options as well, including a new “Shared With You” section that highlights the content that’s been shared via the new SharePlay feature.
Overall then, it’s a relatively modest set of new features for Apple’s streaming entertainment platform, but the announced upgrades seem like welcome additions nonetheless. And it’s entirely possible developers will uncover more hidden gems as they start exploring beta versions of tvOS, so we’ll definitely keep an eye out for that.
In the meantime, tvOS, like Apple’s other software platforms are expected to launch sometime in the fall.
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