While tvOS 11 didn’t see stage time at the WWDC keynote on Monday, there are two new features that you can try now in the tvOS 11 developer beta: Home Screen Sync and automatic appearance switching. Home Screen Sync is especially welcome for homes with multiple Apple TVs, and appearance switching handles dark and light mode based on time of day. Here’s how it works:
When you set up or update an Apple TV with tvOS 11, Home Screen Sync is a new option that can be enabled after connecting your iCloud account. You can toggle Home Screen Sync on and off anytime in the Settings app under General → Accounts → iCloud → Home Screen Sync.
Here’s how Apple describes the new feature in tvOS 11: “Keep your apps and Home screens up to date across any Apple TV that uses this iCloud account.”
Home Screen Sync will require tvOS 11 on each Apple TV to work so you’ll need to install the developer beta to see it in action for now, but a public beta of tvOS 11 is coming soon which is a first for the Apple TV.
With Home Screen Sync enabled, you can rearrange your apps from any Apple TV running tvOS 11 and see the changes reflected on all other Apple TVs with the same iCloud account.
Home Screen Sync also automatically installs apps across Apple TVs with the feature enabled.
For example, I enabled the feature on my kitchen Apple TV without any third-party apps installed which automatically installed Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube and positioned them in the same place on my Home screen as my bedroom Apple TV. You could already use Automatic Downloads to prompt new app installs, but this new feature applies to all app installs and arrangements.
Automatic appearance switching is the other new user-facing feature in tvOS 11. Apple TV gained a new dark mode in tvOS 10, but you had to switch between the light and dark appearance manually. tvOS 11 gains a new automatic option that changes between light and dark mode based on time of day.
You can enable this by going to Settings → Appearance → Automatic. Light mode is enabled at sunrise and dark mode is enabled at sunset so you’ll need to enable location time zone for the feature to work. Then automatic appearance switching will toggle Apple TV between light and dark mode based on local sunrise and sunset times as they change throughout the year.
tvOS 11 will also include AirPlay 2 in the future which will support multi-room AirPlay from iOS and the upcoming Apple HomePod smart speaker, and Apple TV-connected speakers will appear as a HomeKit target in Apple’s Home app.
tvOS 11 also allows developers to increase On-Demand Resource bundles from up to 200MB to up to 4GB, right-to-left language support is added, and new background capabilities are available for developers to change how their apps work.