While you might not think of the software that runs on your Apple TV too often, Apple does release a major update every year. In Spring 2021, Apple will release tvOS 15, which brings some quality-of-life improvements to the Apple TV: You’ll finally be able to log in to apps using Face ID on your iPhone, for example, not to mention support for Spatial Audio for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, and SharePlay support for watching movies and TV shows with your friends on FaceTime via your iPh0ne.
If you don’t want to wait till spring to try these features, install the tvOS public beta. As this is a beta, though, it won’t exactly be a smooth ride, as you might encounter problems or freezes. Also, there’s no way to restore the latest Apple TV 4K model if something does go wrong, so you’ll be forced to wait until a software update to fix a bug for you.
You can restore the original Apple TV HD model from 2015, and we’ll talk more about that below.
Sounds good? Then let’s talk about installing the tvOS beta on your Apple TV.
How to download tvOS 15 public beta on your Apple TV
To get access to the tvOS public beta, you’ll have to sign up for Apple’s public beta program. Once you sign up, your Apple TV will be able to receive beta updates over the air. You don’t need to attach your Apple TV to your computer to do this — all you need to do is to enrol your Apple ID in Apple’s public beta program.
Open Apple’s public beta program website on your computer and click “Sign Up.” Then, log in with your Apple ID (the same Apple ID that you use with your Apple TV). Accept the terms and conditions to enrol in the program, and that’s all you have to on the website.
Now, switch over to your Apple TV. First, make sure that you’re using the same Apple ID on your Apple TV. To do this, open the “Settings” app, and go to the “Accounts” section. Here, go to the “iCloud,” “iTunes & App Store,” or “Game Centre” sections. Check that your Apple ID is the same, and you’re good to go.
Next, in the “Settings” app, go to System > Software Update, enable the “Get Public Beta Updates” option, and agree to the terms and conditions.
Once it’s enabled, your Apple TV will start receiving tvOS 15 public beta updates. To install the public beta, go to Settings > System > Software Update and click the “Update Software” button. From the popup, choose the “Download and Install” option.
Now you can just let your Apple TV do its thing. It will download, install, and reboot your Apple TV. Once it’s done, you’ll be running tvOS 15.
What are the new features in tvOS 15?
If you own AirPods and HomePod minis, the tvOS 15 update will make your life a lot better. tvOS 15 finally supports Apple’s AirPods auto-connect feature (you’ll see a notification on screen that will help you quickly connect your AirPods). Plus, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max will get access to Spatial Audio for an immersive listening experience in supported apps. And you’ll be able to use two HomePod minis in a stereo pair.
There’s also native support for the SharePlay feature. If you’re running iOS 15 on your iPhone and you’re watching something with your friends on FaceTime, you’ll be able to move the media to the Apple TV seamlessly while continuing the call on your iPhone. The playback and media controls will still be synced with the rest of the group call.
And as we mentioned, you’ll be able to log in to apps using Face ID on your iPhone (using iCloud Keychain).
How to restore your Apple TV
If you’re having issues with the tvOS public beta, you can try restoring your Apple TV HD (this doesn’t work with the 4K models).
- Disconnect the HDMI cable, and the power cable from the Apple TV, and connect it to your Mac using a USB-C cable (it’s best if you’re running macOS Catalina or higher).
- Open Finder on your Mac, and select your Apple TV from the sidebar. Here, choose the “Restore” option.
- Follow the instructions to complete the restore process.
If you’re using a Mac that’s running macOS Mojave or older, or a PC, to restore your Apple TV, you’ll have to use iTunes (here, select Apple TV from the source list).
Which devices are supported by tvOS 15?
tvOS 15 supports all three major Apple TV models that come with a Siri remote (with a touchpad). Here’s the list:
- Apple TV HD (2015)
- Apple TV 4K (2017)
- Apple TV 4K (2021)