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tvOS 11: How to join the new Apple TV public beta

This year tvOS joined macOS and iOS in offering a free public beta version of upcoming software updates, and Apple released the first tvOS 11 public beta for testing early last week. There aren’t a ton of flashy new features in tvOS 11, but there are a few nice improvements that you can start using now. Here’s how to start using the tvOS 11 public beta on your Apple TV and what you can expect:

Why should you consider running the tvOS 11 public beta? For starters, running the tvOS 11 public beta gives you an opportunity to try new features and provide feedback to Apple about the software update before it’s finalized and ships to all users. Apple doesn’t provide a Feedback app on the Apple TV, but you can use the Feedback app on iOS if you’re running the public beta version of iOS 11 on your iPhone or iPad.

There are also a few new features to start using on tvOS 11. Apple TV gains fast switching to AirPods just like on iPhone, you can automatically change the appearance from dark mode and light mode based on local sunset and sunrise times, and Home screens can sync between multiple Apple TVs running the iOS 11 beta.

In the future, tvOS 11 should also include AirPlay 2 support for multi-room audio playback and more, although the current betas do not yet include this feature.

So how do you join the tvOS 11 public beta? The process for tvOS is super easy compared to how iOS and macOS both work.

  1. Sign up for free at using the same Apple ID that you use on your Apple TV for iCloud, iTunes, or Game Center.
  2. Launch the Settings app on Apple TV, then look for System and Software Updates.
  3. Turn ‘Get Beta Updates’ on, then select Update Software.

Now tvOS 11 public beta will appear as an available update and can be installed on your Apple TV. When you reboot after the initial installation, tvOS should ask you if you want to use the new Home screen sync feature, then you can enable automatic appearance changing from Settings > General > Appearance.

The only issue joining the tvOS 11 public beta in my experience was not seeing the ‘Get Beta Updates’ option despite using the same Apple ID with the website as iTunes, but using my other Apple ID (for iCloud) on the website resolved the issue immediately on my Apple TV.

tvOS 11 (so far) is a much smaller update than iOS 11 or even macOS High Sierra, so there is generally less stuff to break and less risk attached to running the public beta version. For me, I rely far less on tvOS running smoothly than I do iOS and macOS, too, so it’s OK if something is wonky here or there.

With that being said, I haven’t personally experienced any issues with either the public beta or developer beta versions of tvOS 11 yet (mainly using Netflix and Hulu apps) but your experience may vary so still proceed with caution.

As for major new features, we may have to wait for this fall for a possible Apple TV hardware update as Tim Cook hinted at much more to come with tvOS later this year, which could mean a new box may be required for more impressive features.

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Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.