Apple TV expanding voice controls

The latest beta version of Apple TV's upcoming software also includes support for Bluetooth keyboards and the ability to organize your apps into individual folders.

Apple TV will soon let you enter usernames and passwords using your voice.

CNET

You'll soon be able to dictate text to your Apple TV streaming-media box.

The third beta version of Apple TV operating system tvOS 9.2, launched Monday for third-party developers, includes voice dictation. Blog site MacRumors, which has seen the beta in action, reported that instead of needing to use a remote control to enter each character for your username, password and other words, you can simply speak them.

You just enable the dictation feature, and the search bar gives you the option to dictate text by holding down the button for digital assistant Siri. As you speak, a sound meter appears on the screen so you can make sure your dictation is being heard, MacRumors said.

You can already talk to your Apple TV using the Siri, which was added when the latest Apple TV launched in September. But right now you can only use Siri for certain functions, such as asking for a weather report or sports score, opening specific apps, or finding TV shows and movies on Netflix or Hulu. Voice dictation extends Siri's utility on Apple TV.

Changes to Apple TV come amid upheaval in the way we consume television. Viewers now have lots of options beyond basic cable, a dramatic shift that centers on streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Go. As this has happened on the programming side, the traditional set-top box has been giving way to Internet-ready devices from the likes of Roku, Amazon, Google and Apple.

Besides voice dictation, other new features are part of the beta as well. You can connect to the Apple TV through a Bluetooth keyboard. You can search the App Store using Siri. And you can organize your apps into individual folders just as you can on an iPhone or iPad.

The beta adds support for iCloud Photo Library, so you can view synced photos and videos. You can also check out Live Photos shot with your iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus, which can show you moments just before and after the photo was taken, both with video and sound.

Apple TV users are likely to get the public release of tvOS 9.2 sometime in the spring. Apple is reportedly prepping a March 15 event at which it may demo the new Apple TV software as well as updates to its iOS software and the Mac operating system. Rumors allege that the company may also unveil a new iPad Air, as well as a small-screened iPhone 5se and new bands for the Apple Watch.

Apple did not immediately return CNET's request for comment.

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