Apple announces tvOS 18 upgrades at WWDC 2024

Mike Wheatley

Apple is hosting its annual developer conference this week, and it used the event to announce multiple new innovations that are coming to the next version of the Apple TV 4K operating system, known as tvOS.


At WWDC 2024, the company revealed that developers can access most of the new features now in the beta release of tvOS 18, with regular users set to see them when the new software officially launches in the autumn.

On the menu is a new InSight feature for the Apple TV app, which is similar to Amazon Prime Video’s X-Ray feature. What it does is it shows on-screen information about the show, its characters, actors, the background music tracks and more. The info is provided in a kind of see-through pop-up box that’s overlaid onto the movie or show, so it won’t interrupt viewers whenever it’s called up. It will be accessible via the standard Apple TV 4K remote, and also through the iPhone, when that device is used as a remote instead.

Another welcome update will come to the Enhance Dialogue capability. It’s said to be getting an AI-powered boost that will improve the clarity of voices when there’s loud background noise and music on screen. Apple said it will soon work with any TV’s built-in speakers, as well as Apple HomePods, HDMI-connected speakers, AirPods and Bluetooth devices.

Subtitles are also being enhanced, Apple said. With tvOS 18, whenever the volume is muted or significantly decreased, subtitles will automatically pop-up, assuming they were switched off prior. In addition, subtitles will also be generated when the language on-screen doesn’t match the selected language of the device. Hopefully, this will prevent the need to rewind during those annoying moments when someone calls or starts talking to you during a crucial piece of dialogue.

In addition, Apple said tvOS 18 will introduce support for 21:9 aspect ratios on the Apple TV 4K box. This means that the device will be able to display content shot in that aspect ratio without those horizontal black bars at the top or bottom that can impact on the user’s enjoyment.

There are new screen saver options coming too, including a Portraits mode that allows users to use their own pictures, and customize them with text and graphics. There’s also a new TV and Movies screen saver option that will showcase highlights from Apple TV Plus movies and shows.

Last but not least, there’s a new audio feature that wasn’t mentioned on stage at WWDC, but did find its way into the company’s press release. It pertains to AirPlay 2, which is Apple’s technology that enables users to stream content from their iPhone or iPad to any tvOS device. According to Apple, this content will now come with spatial audio support, including support for Dolby Atmos.

Until now, tvOS has only supported Dolby Atmos when the content is streamed through a HomePod that’s connected to the Apple Music service. With the upgrade, users will be able to stream tracks in Dolby Atmos from any source via an Apple smartphone or tablet over AirPlay.