Play on! tvOS 13 brings Apple Arcade to Apple TV

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Oceanhorn 2 on Apple TV through Apple Arcade
Oceanhorn 2 is one of the Apple Arcade games available with tvOS 13.
Photo: Apple

After months of beta testing, the full version of tvOS 13 launched to the public today. Updates to the Apple TV operating system don’t often make headlines, but this one stands out because it brings support for the all-you-play Apple Arcade service.

tvOS 13 also allows some off-the-shelf game controllers to be used, as well as non-game improvements.

Apple Arcade is affordable and fun

Apple Arcade just launched last week but already includes dozens of games. Over 100 have been promised by the middle of October.

A subscription for this gaming service costs just $4.99 a month, and everything is playable on Apple TV, as well as iPhone, iPad and Mac. A player’s game state jumps from device to device as they switch.

After paying the monthly fee, players aren’t faced with in-app purchases, additional fees or in-game advertising. Games are downloaded to devices, not streamed over the internet.

Xbox and PS4 gamepad support added

Apple TV already supported MFi controllers, but tvOS 13 adds two more options people might be more familiar with.

With tvOS 13 installed, this settop box can connect to one Microsoft gamepad: Xbox Wireless Controller with Bluetooth (Model 1708) and no other. The PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller is the second new option.

All of the Apple Arcade games are playable with either of these, as well as MFi controllers. Apple Support has instructions on adding a gamepad to an Apple TV.

More changes in tvOS 13

But there’s more than just games. At launch, tvOS 13 includes full-screen previews of shows, as well as individualized support for each person in the household to build their own list of favorite shows, movies and even Apple Music.

This upgrade also includes new 4K HDR screensavers of ocean life shot by the BBC’s Natural History Unit. And Apple Music on Apple TV offers lyrics appearing to the beat of the song.

Get tvOS 13 now

tvOS 13 launched today as a free software update for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD.

To install it, open Settings on the settop box. Then go to System > Software Updates and select Update Software.