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At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2018 in San Jose, California on Monday, Apple announced version 12 of tvOS, the entertainment-centric operating system for the company’s lineup of Apple TV set-top boxes.
One of the highlights is support for Dolby Atmos, a premium audio format for multichannel surround sound setups. “[Apple TV] is the only streaming player to be both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certified,” Apple TV lead designer Jennifer Folse said onstage. This fall, a portion of iTunes 4K HDR movies and shows will gain support for Dolby Atmos, and existing content owners will receive the enhanced versions for free.
The Apple TV app for Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone is getting a few improvements, too. “The Apple TV app is the center of your video experience,” said Folse. New live sports and new providers boost the total number of channels to 100 in 10 countries, and Apple says it’s working on Apple TV live content and on-demand integration with cable providers, including Canal+ in France, Salt in Switzerland, and Charter Spectrum in the U.S.
There’s also an enhanced single sign-on experience. Apple calls it “zero sign-on,” and it will automatically detect a TV provider’s broadband network and sign you into apps. Charter Spectrum is the first to support it, with more providers to come. In addition, users with Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation can use AutoFill to send saved passwords from an iPhone or iPad to an Apple TV wirelessly.
On your iPhone, the Apple TV remote is now automatically added to Control Center. Apple says it’s working with remote control providers like Crestron, Savant, and Control4 on tighter integration.
Finally, Apple TV’s panoramic screensavers now reveal where they were filmed when you tap on the remote, and thanks to a partnership with NASA, there are new screensavers captured from the International Space Station (ISS).
While Apple says its Apple TV business has grown 50 percent year-over-year, what it didn’t reveal is the fruit of its $1 billion investment in streaming video content.
In March 2018, The New York Times reported that the Cupertino company had outspent Facebook, YouTube, and traditional TV studios in bidding wars for shows and movies, and that since October, Apple Worldwide Video, its entertainment studio, has expanded its staff to roughly 40 people and opened divisions for children’s shows, adult dramas, and Latin American and European programming.
It’s not the firm’s first foray into original programming: Apple debuted two shows, Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, last year. But Apple’s new push is much more ambitious.
Apple is currently pursuing 12 projects, spearheaded by Hollywood veterans like Reese Witherspoon, Damien Chazelle, Jennifer Aniston, and others. Battlestar Galactica and Outlander director Ronald D. Moore has signed on to craft a new space drama. Steven Spielberg is producing a reboot of Amazing Stories. And Loren Bouchard, creator of Bob’s Burgers, inked a deal for a new animated series.
Production on the slate of original programming is expected to wrap up between March 2019 and summer of that year, according to The New York Times, and could arrive alongside a new subscription service.