Although the iPhone SE was the star of Apple's somewhat underwhelming press conference yesterday, there was also news for anyone who owns or is thinking of buying an Apple TV 4 (4th generation) streaming device. Apple is updating its tvOS operating system, making it easier to use. The best part: You'll no longer have to peck at a small, annoying virtual keyboard when you want to do searches or enter passwords.
On another note, one move we applauded when the new Apple TV 4 was introduced was that the company was opening up the Apple TV app store to outside developers for the first time. Yesterday, Apple said that that there are now more than 5,000 apps available for Apple TV 4.
Here are what we believe are five real benefits of Apple's latest update to the Apple TV 4 software.
1. Support for Bluetooth Keyboards
Entering text using the Apple TV remote and an onscreen keyboard has been a pain, and frankly, we were surprised when Bluetooth support, available on the previous Apple TV, didn't make its way to the new Apple TV 4 at launch. Now that's been rectified, so you can sync a Bluetooth keyboard to Apple TV and type away to your heart's content—provided, of course, you have a Bluetooth keyboard.
2. Siri Voice-to-Text Dictation
Siri became part of the new Apple TV when it launched, but we've been waiting for the voice-powered virtual digital assistant to become more meaningful. Now it—she?—is. Using the microphone in the remote, you can now use your voice for searches and entering passwords. Although Siri was already capable of launching apps, you can now use voice on Apple TV to search through the App Store.
3. Organize Apps Within Folders
This feature lets you organize your Apple TV 4 apps by grouping them together in folders on the home screen, just like you can do on other Apple devices. So, for example, you could keep all your movie apps together in one folder, while games are neatly gathered in another. Folders are easy to create—just choose an app, highlight it by pressing down on the remote's touch screen, and then drag it over to another app you want it associated with. Folders can then be labeled using the text field.
4. New Look for Switching Between Apps
Perhaps not quite as important as the other improvements, the new Apple TV OS provides a new, card-style look for the interface you use when multitasking and switching between apps. The new look is more streamlined and intuitive to use, and should be familiar to those who use other iOS devices.
5. Access iCloud Photos
If you keep photos in the iCloud Photo library, you can now access all of them using Apple TV 4. Previously, Apple TV’s Photos app only supported My Photo Stream photos, which are timed to expire. So you can now use Apple TV to view all your iCloud Photo pics (and videos) on your TV, just like you can on other Apple devices.
Copyright © 2005-2016 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.