Editor’s Note (03/14/22): As expected, Apple has released several software updates this week, including version 15.4 of tvOS. Owners of eligible Apple TV devices (Apple TV HD and newer) should see an update prompt like the one below soon if they haven’t already. The original article text follows.
While Apple’s first virtual event of the year may not have offered any major Apple TV hardware news, the company did share we should expect updates to its software platforms soon. In a March 8 press release about new iPhone 13 colors, Apple mentioned that iOS 15.4 should arrive the following week. For Apple TV fans, that likely means tvOS 15.4 is also on the way.
The update brings with it support for captive portal WiFi setups, which should be welcome news to travelers.
As we discussed in our recent video on streaming while on the road, hotels, dorms, and other short-term living spaces often use captive portals to control who can access WiFi networks. The most common use case is a web page that appears on screen, asking for login info like your name, hotel room number, or a password shared by an employee.
For dedicated streaming devices, dealing with these captive portals can be tricky since they involve displaying actual web pages before you’re allowed to connect to a network. Various companies have offered solutions, like having a built-in web browser on board to properly display the login screen. Others, like Roku, have taken to using mobile devices (and their built-in mobile browsers) to act as a go-between.
And that latter approach appears to be the same route Apple has taken with its Apple TV line. According to release notes for beta versions of tvOS, version 15.4 adds:
“Captive Wi-Fi network support on tvOS allows you to use your iPhone or iPad to connect your Apple TV to networks that need additional sign-in steps, like at hotels or dorms.”
This latest update builds upon previous versions of the current tvOS15 software that Apple first released back in September of 2021.
Elsewhere, this latest update also includes tweaks to the tvOS interface, including the ability to view an “Up Next” queue from the “Now Playing” screen.
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for updates to tvOS throughout the week and we’ll post an update as soon as we learn more.