Apple tvOS 18: A Cinematic Upgrade for Apple TV 4K, But Audio Enthusiasts Left Wanting

Apple tvOS 18: A Cinematic Upgrade for Apple TV 4K, But Audio Enthusiasts Left Wanting

By: CE Critic

Apple's latest update to its Apple TV 4K operating system, tvOS 18, promises to elevate the cinematic experience in your living room. With features like InSight, enhanced dialogue clarity, and smarter subtitles, movie nights are about to get a whole lot better. However, for the audiophile community, there's a notable omission: the absence of audio passthrough support.

Top 5 Biggest Updates in tvOS 18

  1. InSight: This feature, similar to Amazon's X-Ray, overlays real-time information about actors, characters, and music from Apple TV+ content directly on screen. Imagine pausing a scene to explore an actor's filmography or adding a song to your Apple Music playlist with a tap. InSight extends to iPhone remotes and works across the TV app on both tvOS and iOS devices.

  2. Enhanced Dialogue: Apple has leveled up its machine learning algorithms to make voices crisper and clearer against background noise and music. The feature now works with a wider range of audio outputs, including built-in TV speakers, HomePod, soundbars, AirPods, and other Bluetooth devices. 

  3. Smarter Subtitles: Subtitles now appear automatically in situations where they're most needed. This includes scenarios like when the audio is muted, when you rewind to replay a scene, or when the content's language doesn't match your device's language settings.

  4. 21:9 Support for Projectors: For those with ultra-wide projectors, tvOS 18 finally adds support for the 21:9 aspect ratio, filling your entire screen with cinematic glory without those pesky black bars.

  5. New Screensavers: Apple is sprucing up your Apple TV's idle screen with a new Portraits mode (customizable with photos, text, and graphics), a curated selection of scenes from Apple TV+ shows, and a charming Snoopy animation for Peanuts fans.

The Biggest Miss: Audio Passthrough

While these features are certainly welcome additions, the elephant in the room for home theater enthusiasts is the lack of audio passthrough support. This feature allows the Apple TV 4K to send unprocessed audio data (like Dolby Atmos) directly to a connected AV receiver or soundbar, bypassing the Apple TV's internal audio processing. This is crucial for those who have invested in high-end audio equipment and want to ensure they're getting the absolute best audio quality possible.

The absence of audio passthrough means that the Apple TV 4K will continue to handle audio processing internally, potentially limiting the full capabilities of your expensive audio setup. This is a major disappointment for those who prioritize audio fidelity and expect the Apple TV 4K to be a true home theater powerhouse.

What Else is New?

Beyond the headline features, tvOS 18 brings other enhancements like redesigned Apple Fitness+ experience, SharePlay integration with Apple Music on HomePod, and support for controlling robot vacuums through the Home app.


tvOS 18 is a significant step forward in making the Apple TV 4K a more engaging and user-friendly entertainment hub. The new features will undoubtedly enhance the viewing experience for many users. However, the omission of audio passthrough is a glaring oversight that will leave many audiophiles feeling underserved. Hopefully, Apple will address this in future updates.

Release Date

tvOS 18 is currently available as a developer beta and is expected to roll out as a free update for all users later this fall.