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Apple tvOS 15 release date, new features, compatible devices and more

tvOS 15
(Image credit: Apple)

tvOS 15 is arriving on the heels of the new Apple TV 4K launch. While tvOS 15 did not get a spotlight at WWDC 2021, Apple mentioned a few new Apple TV features — like spatial audio through AirPods — and released a beta to developers following the presentation.

tvOS is the operating system that runs the Apple TV and a new version is usually released every year in the fall. Last year's tvOS 14 brought some new features to the Apple TV, including multi-user support and audio sharing, but didn't represent a huge change.

Rumors circulated that tvOS 15 would introduce a major design change in the navigation, but the expected unveiling at WWDC 2021didn't happen. Apple's developer info about the new tvOS indicates there is a redesigned playback interface, which we're eager to see. 

Here's everything we know so far about tvOS 15. 

tvOS 15 release date

While tvOS 15 did not get a spotlight during WWDC 2021, Apple released the developer beta immediately following the conference. And all signs point to tvOS 15 arriving this fall. 

That would follow historical precedent. After all, tvOS 14 was first announced at WWDC 2020 and rolled out in September 2020; tvOS 13 was announced at WWDC 2019 and rolled out in September 2019.

Given that history, we expected Apple to follow a similar schedule for the tvOS 15 release and drop it in September 2021. 

tvOS 15 features

While WWDC didn't include a section for tvOS 15, Apple did reveal some of the tvOS new features coming our way this fall.

SharePlay: The feature allows people on FaceTime calls to create watch parties and view movies or shows in sync with friends. Start a FaceTime call with friends, then create a watch party via compatible streaming services (including Disney Plus and HBO Max). Then, you can AirPlay the show or movie to your Apple TV. 

Spatial audio: The theater-like surround sound experience comes to the Apple TV 4K when paired with AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. 

HomePod Mini integration: Now, you can ask Siri through a HomePod Mini to play movies or shows on the Apple TV. The HomePod mini can also be connected to the Apple TV like a soundbar. You can also check your security camera feeds and control other smart home features through the Apple TV with a HomePod Mini.

Apple TV app: Two new content rows are coming to the Apple TV app. The first is "Shared With You," which comprises content recommended to you by friends and family. The second is "For All of You," a row that houses content built for group viewing, such as a family's movie night. The suggestions can also be curated based on who's watching.

tvOS 15 beta

Apple made the tvOS 15 beta available to developers on June 7, following WWDC 2021. 

Developers can now install the tvOS 15 beta 1 on their Apple TVs. A public beta, through the Apple Beta Software Program, is set to become available in July.

tvOS 15 design changes

Apple's note to developers on "What's new in tvOS" mentions two major updates. The first involves FaceID; in tvOS 15, people can use Face ID or Touch ID on their iPhone or iPad to authorize purchases and sign in to your tvOS app.

The second is a "redesigned playback interface." We hope to get more info soon on what the redesign brings. 

The tvOS navigation and playback interface haven't changed in a long time. Earlier this year, a rumor circulated that tvOS 15 represented a "major update" with a redesign of the navigation. Israeli blog The Verifier (which has a spotty track record) reported that tvOS 15 would have a new design, along with parental controls, kids mode and Screen Time. The Verifier also claimed that Apple is working on a program guide for live channels. 

For now, though, the only confirmed redesign is the mysterious new playback interface and the Apple TV app's two new content rows. 

tvOS 15 supported devices

tvOS 15 is expected to be compatible with all of the devices running tv OS 14, which are the Apple TV 4K (2021), the first-gen Apple TV 4K (2017) and the Apple TV HD.