tvOS 16 enables cross-device connectivity for third-party apps


Apple barely mentioned tvOS 16 during its WWDC 2022 launch event last week, but that doesn’t mean the update doesn’t come with new features. For some features, such as support for more game controllers, tvOS 16 enables what’s 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 improves cross-device connectivity with better integration between iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. However, the company has not provided any details on how this integration will work.

Now, thanks to a WWDC 2022 session, we have a better idea of ​​what’s changing with the update, which comes with a new “DeviceDiscoveryUI” framework. With this framework, developers can create apps for tvOS and iOS that communicate with each other over the local network. While developers can already build apps with such functionality, the new API makes this process much easier and provides a native interface.

To better understand what this API can do, just consider Apple Fitness+. If you have an Apple TV, you can open the Fitness+ app on tvOS and choose a workout directly from there. The app automatically prompts you on your Apple Watch to start the workout, then it uses data from your watch to display it on the TV in real time.

This is just one of the experiences developers can now deliver 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. As it is a built-in API, users will not need to open the app to initiate device-to-device communication.

Of course, developers will need to update their apps to take advantage of the new framework.

Learn more about tvOS 16

tvOS 16 is a low-key update, but it comes with new features like rich video previews in the Apple TV+ tab, Matter protocol support for home automation devices, improved 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 rivals 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 it may be because the technology was not available for beta users and will come later this year once tvOS 16 is released for all Apple TV users.

Developers can now download the first beta of tvOS 16 through the Apple Developer website. A public beta will be available next month with the official release slated for this fall. It should be noted that tvOS 16 is compatible with Apple TV HD (fourth generation) and both Apple TV 4K models (fifth and sixth generation).

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