Apple TV is getting Dolby Atmos and Zero Sign-On with tvOS 12

Apple took the stage today at WWDC, their annual developer conference, and discussed updates coming to their various platforms. Among the keynote was a brief section talking about changes coming to the Apple TV and tvOS. The main points of interest are that the Apple TV 4K is gaining support for Dolby Atmos surround sound and Apple is making activating TV everywhere apps even easier with something called zero sign-on.

Apple has said that support for Dolby Atmos surround sound was coming to their Apple TV 4K for some time, but has never given a specific timeline. Now it looks like it will arrive later this year with the arrival of tvOS 12. When it arrives, the Apple TV 4K will be the first and only streaming device that supports both Dolby Vision, the HDR standard, and Dolby Atmos.

Other streaming devices, such as the Fire TV 3 and Roku Ultra, already support Dolby Atmos, so Apple is playing catchup here. Apple says iTunes Movies will start to offer Dolby Atmos titles this fall and movies that you already own which gain Atmos will get updated for free.

Apple debuted single sign-on, which lets customers sign into most of their cable TV apps all at once, a couple of years ago. It’s a great feature for people with cable subscriptions so it was no surprise to see other streaming box manufacturers, like Amazon, adopt the feature themselves. Now Apple is taking it a step further with what they’re calling zero sign-on.

Zero sign-on will automatically sign the Apple TV into apps if it detects that it is connected to a broadband internet service that also provides cable television. The feature will only work with Charter Spectrum at first, but Apple says other providers will be added over time. So if you subscribe to Spectrum cable and Spectrum Internet, the Apple TV will activate TV everywhere apps automatically if its connected to Spectrum internet.

The partnership between Apple and Charter Spectrum goes a little deeper because Charter Spectrum will also be the first major US cable company to allow its customers to access live channels and on-demand content through the Apple TV. All of these new features are expected to arrive with tvOS 12 later this year.

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12 comments
  1. Dennis Rodzik says:

    A day late and a dollar short.

  2. None says:

    Still has a crappy remote

    • Charlie says:

      Agree. I hate it and it makes the box seem awkward to use.

      • Bacon says:

        I think it’s pretty great, especially for scrubbing through videos.

        I still prefer Roku’s dpad overall, but I think people fail to realize you can tap the edges of the Apple remote to mimic a dpad and it works very well for the most part

        Apple TV is still my go to 4K box since it has Dolby Vision, and Atmos makes it even better.

        • Charlie says:

          OK, so we have finally him, the one guy who likes the Apple TV remote. Apple will be happy to know they have at least one fan.

          I will admit you do get better with it with practice, but I’ll take a Roku or Fire TV remote any day.

          • Bill says:

            Well make it two I like the remote also! I pick it up over my Harmony Elite’s 99.9% of the time. I also prefer the Apple TV Siri remote over the Nvidia Shield TVs remote.

          • MrMC says:

            hehe, ever since we reworked focus handling. The Siri remote is now my goto remote. Light years ahead of the others.

  3. Fred says:

    Means nothing if it’s not losless

    • Reflex says:

      There is no comparable lossless standard. Also, ‘lossless’ is a bit meaningless in this context, Atmos audio is mastered from sources, and mixed appropriately. Once its in digital form there is nothing left to ‘lose’ and most content is recorded digitally to begin with these days. It’s not like they are transferring this from audiotape or something.

  4. TechyChris says:

    Elias, I am curious about the “Zero Sign In” feature,
    your article says:
    “Zero sign-on will automatically sign the Apple TV into apps if it detects that it is connected to a broadband internet service that also provides cable television” I know a lot of folks (not me) talk about bringing their streaming devices to hotels, friends houses, vacation homes etc.
    Will this prevent them from activating the apps unless they are on their original home wifi? or can they bypass and sign in the “old fashioned way” with a smart phone on the same network?

  5. Mark B says:

    I own multiple Fire TVs and the Shield and the Apple TV 4K is by far more the best 4K streamer.

    – Proper color space and refresh rate conversion.
    – Dolby Vision
    – Best 1080p to 4K scaler
    – Working Universal voice search, looking at you Shield….
    – Fastest CPU

    If you are a 4K streamer you are doing yourself a disservice by not trying it. Shield and Fire Tv have the install any app under the sun advantage but if you are just a regular 4K user/Plex user technically right now th Apppe TV 4K is the device to beat. I get why people are like Oh, I don’t like Nvidia, or Amazon, or Apple etc but if you do serious research on all the different boxes you’ll see the stuff I’m talking about really does matter. By the way us shield owners have been complaining to Nvidia for years now about just a few technical things and they literally just keep ignoring us Which is super frustrating and it’s why a sizable amount of shield owners also on Apple TVs right now.

    • Charlie says:

      I agree with you about the Apple TV being a monster. It is very powerful and I really like that it will display 1080P at the original 24 not 60 fps and original dynamic range automatically when that is the case.

      and …. Okay, so people like the remote, though I’ve heard lots of negative feedback. I do use it and admit I am better with than I used to be.

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