Apple kicked off the week by releasing a major new beta for each one of its platforms including tvOS 9.2 beta for the new Apple TV. While the software update isn’t available to everyone just yet, the pre-release software brings the 4th-gen Apple TV up to parity with older Apple TVs and even makes it work more like iPhones and iPads. For example, tvOS 9.2 beta finally adds Bluetooth keyboard support to the new Apple TV after first shipping at the end of October without the feature; previous Apple TVs worked with wireless keyboards from the start. The new update also adds a new built-in app and some iPhone-like features as well. Check out the details below:
Just like older Apple TVs, tvOS 9.2 includes Apple’s Podcasts app which lets you subscribe and listen to podcasts like 9to5Mac’s Happy Hour podcast for example. The new Apple TV Podcasts app works very similarly to the iOS 9 version of the same app, which is organized by unplayed episodes, subscriptions, featured podcasts, top charts, and search. Just don’t expect to find or play any video podcasts on this version of the Apple TV Podcasts app.
While the Podcasts app is technically in beta, it’s worth noting that Siri on the Apple TV doesn’t yet talk to the Podcasts app like Siri on iPhones and iPads does. There’s also no special “top shelf” artwork when you put the new app in the first row on your Apple TV, although these are likely beta shortcomings that will be resolved in future software updates. Overall it’s a very solid podcast app if you like it on iPhone and iPad.
Check out our hands-on video with Apple TV and tvOS 9.2 below:
In addition to Bluetooth keyboard support and a new Podcasts app, the new Apple TV also features an updated app switcher user interface that looks more like iOS 9 and less like iOS 8. The full screen left to right app previews have been replaced with stacked cards of right to left app previews. Opinions on this will likely vary, but on the plus side both iOS and tvOS have a more consistent UI when moving between apps.
You’ll also find folders on tvOS 9.2 beta. Just drag and drop two app icons on top of each other very similar to how iOS works. Rearranging apps can be a lot of work on the big screen, however, so tvOS includes a new menu for quickly moving apps to the Home screen and other folders when pressing the play/pause button in jiggle mode. Finally, the tvOS grid layout for app folders first appears to be a 3×3 grid of 9 apps per screen like on iPhone, but adding additional apps reveals that Apple TV app folders can actually infinitely scroll vertically with three columns and numerous rows.
The new tvOS 9.2 software update will ship to all fourth-gen Apple TVs later this year.