Just as iOS and macOS receive yearly free updates, tweaking the interface and unlocking new features, tvOS - the software that runs on the Apple TV, has received a major update: tvOS 11. (For information about the next major update, take a look at our tvOS 12 rumour roundup.)

tvOS is the operating system software platform that runs on the fourth-gen Apple TV. It's the Apple TV's equivalent of iOS on the iPhone or macOS on the Mac; it manages the apps you can install on the device and offers various features of its own.

Read on for everything you need to know about tvOS 11, its design tweaks and new features.

tvOS 11 release date

tvOS 11 became available as a free update on 19 September 2017.

Here's how to download tvOS 11.

tvOS 11 features

tvOS 10 release date and new features rumours

TV app

The TV app will be coming to the UK by the end of the year following nine months of US exclusivity. 

Live sports is also coming to the Apple TV. Initially it will be US-focused.

Better AirPod support

Here's one we know is coming as part of the update: soon AirPods will automatically pair with the Apple TV through iCloud, just as they already do with iPads and iPhones. That's a small update, but it's a nice quality of life improvement for users who've had to manually pair the headphones so far.

Amazon Prime support

This is another one Apple actually announced at WWDC: Apple TV is finally getting support for Amazon Prime Video, after lagging behind the competition for years. The app should be made available for tvOS users along with second- and third-generation Apple TV users later this year.

Home Screen Sync

This new feature will let you sync your apps and home screen across any Apple TV device connected to the same iCloud account - though both will need to be running tvOS 11 for it to work.

Automatic appearance switching

This optional feature sees Apple TV automatically switch between light and dark user interfaces depending on the time of day, to give you the most comfortable UI based on local light levels - even taking into account changing sunrise and sunset times during the year.

How to get the tvOS 11 beta

If you don't want to wait for tvOS to ship you could download the beta now, here's how.

Apple released a developer beta of the software immediately following the WWDC keynote. This is a series of pre-release builds for software developers only, so they can make sure their apps will work smoothly with the updated platform. The latest version of this is tvOS 11 developer beta 8.

The company also announced that tvOS 11 would be getting a public beta - the first time it's released a public beta for a tvOS update - which is now available to download.

The latest build is tvOS 11 public beta 7. Simply head over to the Apple Beta Software Program website, log in with your Apple ID and follow the instructions on how to install it on your fourth-generation Apple TV.

Read on to find out which new features we'd like to see in tvOS in the future...