Apple TV Gets Voice Dictation In Latest Round Of OS Betas

Apple pushed out new builds of tvOS, watchOS, iOS, and OS X this week, adding features and improving performance along the way.
iPhone 7 Rumors: 7 That Have People Talking
iPhone 7 Rumors: 7 That Have People Talking
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple took the opportunity to update the beta builds of its core platforms Monday and delivered a handful of helpful tools to its TV, smartwatch, smartphone, and desktop operating systems.

Apple TV is the biggest winner in this week's beta extravaganza, tvOS 9.2 beta 3 adds voice dictation, which means users will be able to speak into the Siri remote to enter text and fill in forms. Perhaps most importantly, users will be able to spell out their username and password, rather than use the convoluted process of swiping through the on-screen keyboard. They will also be able to enter whole words into search boxes. Siri for Apple TV gains a greater understanding of complex requests, too, such as searching through the App Store for specific apps or games.

Other new functions headed to the Apple TV include support for iCloud Photo Libraries and Live Photos. This means users will be able to pore over their entire online iCloud Photo Library and view the animated Live Photos captured with the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus. Last, tvOS 9.2 beta 3 adds support for Bluetooth keyboards (as an alternate to voice dictation), and the ability to group apps into folders.

Apple's smartwatch sees improvements to Apple Maps thanks to watchOS 2.2 beta 3. The newest build adds a tool for searching for nearby points of interest via Yelp for discovering what's nearby. The wearable also gains new options for launching Maps, which now include current location, home, and work.

The iPhone and iPad win a few new functions in iOS 9.3 beta 3. For example, the beta brings Touch ID support to Notes for added security, and people who own the iPhone 6S will see new 3D Touch actions for the App Store, Compass, Health App, iTunes Store, and Weather apps. The Apple Health app itself was given a new activity viewer for getting a better handle on health and fitness data.

For its desktop machines, the latest beta of Apple's OS X 10.11.4 El Capitan installs broad support for Live Photos, which are now accessible in iMessage as well as the Photos app.

[Read iPhone Error 53 Is A Deadly Security Feature.]

Apple hasn't given any indication of when it might release these new features to all end users, but consumers are able to test the betas own their own through the public beta program. Apple is widely expected to be planning an event for March 15, which is when we're most likely to learn about official release dates for tvOS 9.2, watchOS 2.2, iOS 9.3, and OS X 10.11.4.

What have you done to advance the cause of Women in IT? Submit your entry now for InformationWeek's Women in IT Award. Full details and a submission form can be found here.

Editor's Choice
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Terry White, Associate Chief Analyst, Omdia
John Abel, Technical Director, Google Cloud
Richard Pallardy, Freelance Writer
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer