While Apple dukes it out over iPhone security with the FBI, its far-less-controversial Apple TV box is set to get incrementally better with the latest free software update.
In CEO Tim Cook's remarks from Apple's event today he touted the fact that the Apple TV app store has more than 5,000 apps. He mentioned a special March Madness app, exclusive to the box; an app called Solar Walk 2, which "turns your living room into a planetarium"; GrubHub, and a few games.
Today he also announced that the latest software update for the box's TVOS operating system, version 9.2, is now available for download.
So what upgrades can Apple TV owners expect? As the beta releases indicated, they mostly revolve around making the device easier to use.
Siri voice search for the app store
The Apple TV app store is more prolific than ever, and until now you couldn't use the Siri voice remote to find anything. Now you can. The feature allows you to find specific app titles, as well as categories like Games, by talking into the remote.
Here's a cool use for the Siri voice remote: Instead of swiping around the horizontal onscreen keyboard to input characters for your username, password and other pieces of text-entry drudgery, you can speak them, letter-by-letter, number-by-number and symbol-by-symbol into the Siri remote's mic. Just make sure to pronounce "#$@~" correctly.
Bluetooth keyboard support
Speaking of making text entry easier, without having to speak at all, the new Apple TV finally gets a feature the old one has had for years: the ability to connect a Bluetooth keyboard. Of course, the first text-easing feature Apple updated (in version 9.1) was compatibility with the remote app, so you can use your iPhone or iPad to enter info into the Apple TV .
Home screen folders, new app switcher
That proliferation of apps on your homepage? You can finally organize them into custom folders, just like on your iPhone and iPad, with a few clicks. And the app switcher, which lets you choose between running apps, has been redesigned into a sleeker version.
iCloud Photo Library and Live Photos support
The new software also allows the Apple TV to display all of the photos stored in users' iCloud Photo library, just like on other Apple devices. Previously the set-top box could only access Photo Stream photos, which expire after a set period. Apple TV users can also watch Live Photos, where available, which are essentially short video clips recorded before and after the actual photo was taken.
The update to version 9.2 will be available as a free upgrade today to all new (2015) Apple TV devices.
See all of the news from Apple's March 21 event.
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