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Apple tvOS 18: What I want to see and what we know so far

There's a lot to like about Apple TV but there's certainly room for improvement.
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Published onMarch 19, 2024

Apple TV 4K standing up
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

My household is almost exclusively a Google TV family, though I do have a Roku, Fire Stick, and an Apple TV device for moments I want to mess around with another platform. Of these, Apple TV is one of my favorite alternatives, though it’s not without room for improvement. While the hardware is great, there are some things I’d like to see done differently on the software side. Let’s jump right into my wishlist for what I’d like to see from Apple tvOS 18.

tvOS 18: Features we want to see

Apple tvOS 17 was the first major update in a while, but I’m hoping that tvOS 18 is even bigger. Most of what I want is fairly reasonable and easy enough to implement if Apple is so inclined.

A guest mode would be nice

While Apple TV already has multi-user support, a guest mode would be a great addition. Maybe you have a vacation home you rent out, or you have family that sometimes visits for a few days at a time. In these situations, it would be nice to give guests the ability to log in to their streaming services without giving them a full account.

SharePlay across multiple devices in the same household

Apple WWDC 2023 shareplay
Apple

I’d like to see SharePlay get a big upgrade as well. Right now, this feature lets you watch, listen, and play with others on FaceTime. But what if this function extended to Apple TV, Vision Pro, iPads, and iPhones within the same household? Instead of initiating a video call, it would just sync any requested devices in the household. Why would you want this? Not everyone has a traditional living room big TV setup anymore. Maybe you want to be around your friends and family in the same room for a family/roommate movie night, but you would all rather just watch on your screens. If there was a way to pick a central audio source (like a Homepod), that would make this concept even better.

I have to admit I’d also use this feature when I clean, as I’ll sometimes passively watch comfort shows like The Office, so I’d be able to move from room to room while watching. How likely would Apple add Shareplay features like this at some point in the future? It’s possible, though it’s a pretty niche feature, so it’s hard to say if Apple would feel it’s worth investing in or not.

More control over updates

One of the things I used to hate about Apple TV was that you either had to keep automatic updates on, or you had to go into every app’s detail page and search for updates individually. There is no way to easily check all installed apps for pending updates right now. Now, I realize many of you keep automatic updates on, but be aware not everyone has limitless data, and so some of us like more control over what gets updates and what doesn’t.

I’d like to see Apple add a quick system that would let you check all your apps for updates at once. Honestly, the odds of it happening are low but not impossible. This is a super small addition, but it’s one that likely isn’t on Apple’s radar as only a minority would be affected by the change anyhow.

HomePods as surround speakers

The HomePod 2nd gen on an endtable
Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Apple loves to leverage its entire ecosystem in order to attract more customers and more sales. As a result, we see a lot of interactivity between different Apple devices, but what about the HomePod? At nearly $300, it’s not a cheap speaker, but it is a quality device that could work perfectly as a surround sound solution. Imagine pairing one of these with your existing TV setup, or even better, if you could set up two to get a true full-room surround experience. There’s nothing technical holding back this idea, and I feel like it would be a nice additional selling point for the expensive speaker.

Screentime Controls

While Apple TV technically has parental controls, it could certainly do better. The current controls let you restrict purchases and content, including multiplayer mode. This is great for restricting what they can do with Apple TV, but what if you want to set firm limits for viewing the way you can with an iPad or iPhone? For some reason, there are no Screen Time Controls on Apple TV. Apple needs to get with the program and bring Screen Time to tvOS.

Screen Time is one of the best features on iOS and iPadOS for families with younger kids. Not only can you set specific schedules for days and times a younger user is allowed access, but you can also set app limits by specific categories, allow certain apps to have no restrictions, and more. This would be super useful in my own household, where I try to limit YouTube and some other sources so they are only watched when I’m around. My reason is that I’ve seen my kids accidentally wander into questionable content even when parental restrictions are set, so I trust some services more than others.

AI enhancements, particularly around Siri

AI is here to stay and will eventually permeate every facet of our tech lives. Still, let’s be realistic. As much as I’d love to see AI applied to show and movie curation in a big way, it’s not likely going to be a big focus for Apple. Historically, tvOS gets a scaled-back focus compared to Apple’s mobile operating systems, favoring stability and long-term hardware support over flashy changes. That doesn’t mean we won’t see an upgraded Siri here, at least.

Imagine being able to have more conversational-style searches for actors, similar shows, and more. This is an area that Apple TV is currently lacking in, at least in my humble opinion.

tvOS 18 expected release date

Apple TV 4K with remote
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

One of my biggest frustrations with Google is that even if it releases a new version of its Android TV software, the update often doesn’t find its way onto actual consumer hardware until much later (if at all in some cases), and it often doesn’t add many new changes when it does. Thankfully, Apple is much better here.

We can safely predict that tvOS 18 will be first unveiled at WWDC 2024 in June, with a release following in mid-September, alongside both iOS 18 and iPadOS 18.

Will there be a tvOS 18 beta?

The tvOS 18 stable build might be a little ways off, but we’ll be able to get our hands on the next update sooner. Apple always releases its developer-only previews shortly after WWDC, with a public beta following a bit closer to the September launch timeframe. There’s no indication that this year will be any different.

tvOS 18 rumored features

Apple TV 4K standing with remote
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Rumors claim Apple is working to bring AI features to iOS 18 and its variants this year, with most of the focus on upgrading Siri from the sounds of it. Apple is already supposedly working on its own AppleGPT, which will be used to enhance the Siri experience. While it’s clear how AI would benefit the mobile experience, what about tvOS? There haven’t been any specifics around what, if any, AI features it might receive, but at the very least, AI-powered searches could become much more accurate with the new Siri.

Beyond this, we really haven’t heard much about tvOS 18, but be aware that TV upgrades are usually a bit smaller. Nonetheless, iOS 17 still got a few pretty useful additions last year, including a revamped control center, better profiles, the addition of FaceTime, and a new Siri Remote Finder feature.

tvOS 18 compatibility

Apple has been pretty good about long-term support for its Apple TV hardware with tvOS 16 and tvOS 17 both supporting any Apple TV HD model released after 2015 and every Apple TV 4K unit. With some of the oldest supported models now nearly a decade it’s possible that Apple will drop support for some of the older models with its latest release. For now, all we can do is speculate but we’ll update this guide once we hear any specific rumors around tvOS 18 compatibility.