Apple’s next version of tvOS brings a huge new feature: FaceTime on Apple TV 4K. When tvOS 17 launches this fall, you’ll be able to launch calls directly from the new FaceTime app on Apple TV or start/receive a call from your iPhone or iPad and hand them off to the Apple TV.
Apple demoed the new feature during its WWDC 2023 keynote. The demo shows a woman tap a green button after taking a FaceTime call to hand the call off to her Apple TV.
The call is then transferred to her Apple TV 4K. The new FaceTime feature on Apple TV essentially works just like the Continuity Camera feature for Macs. It wirelessly connects iPhone’s camera and microphone to the Apple TV 4K, allowing you to hold a FaceTime call from the Apple TV.
Waiting beneath the woman’s TV in the demo is a MagSafe mount that looks an awful lot like this one from Belkin that can act as a stand or a desktop monitor mount when using iPhone for video calls using Continuity Camera.
Thanks to the inclusion of Center Stage as part of this feature, the woman is able to dock her iPhone to the MagSafe mount and then have a seat on her couch while talking with friends. Center Stage will keep one or multiple people centered in the frame of the camera even if they move around the room.
Apple is also bringing new gesture-based reactions to FaceTime on Apple TV, allowing you use your hands to generate onscreen effects like hearts or fireworks.
Apple has also enabled Split View for this feature, allowing you to watch shows or movies with loved ones during a SharePlay session while still keeping those on the other end of the call visible on-screen.
Apple has also opened up this new FaceTime feature to third-party video conferencing apps. Apple says Webex by Cisco and Zoom will launch on tvOS. Plus, developers will be able to integrate Continuity Camera into other Apple TV apps.
As an example of this, Apple is launching Apple Music Sing, a karaoke feature that shows you on-screen with lyrics in Apple Music.
Control Center improvements
Another major feature in tvOS 17 is an improved Control Center. Apple has redesigned Control Center with a new look, displaying system status that includes the time. Control Center also shows the currently active profile and allows you to easily switch between profiles.
Stronger iPhone integration
Beyond the addition of Continuity Camera in the new FaceTime app, Apple has also added a few other features aimed at strengthening the way iPhone and Apple TV work together.
First up, Apple is finally bringing a Siri Remote locator feature to the iPhone. The new feature is inside the Apple TV remote mode in Control Center on iPhone in iOS 17. If you have a 2nd-gen Siri Remote or later, you’ll be able to use the new feature. Apple says that as you get closer to the remote while using the locator feature, an onscreen circle grows in size to guide you to the precise location of the remote.
Another nice new feature is that when you use the Apple TV remote feature on iPhone to wake an Apple TV, tvOS 17 will automatically switch to your profile, allowing you to access your recently watched shows and personalized recommendations. Plus, Apple is now saving additional settings and preferences within each user profile including system language and any paired AirPods.
Additional Features in tvOS 17
- Enhance Dialogue: For Apple TV 4K devices paired to a 2nd generation HomePod, you’ll be able to toggle this feature to better separate dialogue from background noise.
- Dolby Vision 8.1 support
- New screen savers including curated Memories from Photos within personal or shared libraries
- New aerial screen savers from Arizona’s Monument Valley and California’s coastal redwoods
- Apple Fitness+ gets new Custom Plans, workout Stacks, and Audio Focus
- Third-party VPN support