Although Apple’s new subscription gaming service, Apple Arcade, went live for iPhone and iPod touch users last week with the release of iOS 13, it’s still been missing in action on the Apple TV and Mac, even for beta testers.
Of course, since Apple Arcade requires the latest versions of Apple’s operating systems — iOS 13, iPadOS 13, tvOS 13, and macOS Catalina — it’s no surprise to find that it’s not available on those platforms for which the OS updates haven’t yet been released, including even the iPad right now.
While we know that Catalina isn’t coming until October, Apple has been more silent about when it plans to release the software update for its set-top box.
In fact, Apple’s entire software rollout has been a bit of a mess this year, with iOS 13.1 entering beta testing in late August, weeks before Apple’s expected release of iOS 13, followed by relatively quiet announcements from Apple that iOS 13 would land on Sept. 19, while iOS 13.1, and iPadOS 13, wouldn’t be coming until Sept. 30; a date that was more recently revised to Sept. 24.
This is in stark contrast to previous years when iOS, tvOS, and watchOS were all released almost simultaneously, although macOS usually does get held back until a few weeks later.
What’s been conspicuously missing in all of these reports is any word on when tvOS 13 will arrive. Some had hoped it would appear on Sept. 19 alongside iOS 13, while others speculated that it was going to be pushed out to Sept. 30 with the iPadOS 13 and iOS 13.1 updates.
Late last week, a “GM” or final version of tvOS 13 was released to developers, which suggests that it could be coming sooner rather than later, especially with the other releases now scheduled for today.
Apple Arcade on Apple TV
Even after Apple Arcade went live on iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 beta devices last week, the Arcade app in tvOS 13 beta continued to display the same “Coming Soon” screen that it’s been showing since the early betas in June.
That changed early this morning, however, with MacRumors noting beta testers and developers on Twitter revealing that the service had gone live — something we’ve also been able to confirm on our own set-top box running the most recent tvOS 13 public beta.
The sudden appearance of Apple Arcade lends weight to the theory that tvOS 13 will be released later today, alongside iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.
Apple Arcade on the Apple TV provides a user interface similar to the App Store, but unlike the iPhone and iPad versions, it exists in a separate tvOS “Arcade” app, rather than as a section in the App Store. A “Try it Free” option will allow users to sign up for the one-month free trial directly from their couch, and of course users who have already signed up will simply be able to access their existing subscription without any additional steps (assuming of course that they’re logged into their Apple TV with the same iCloud account).
The expansion of Apple Arcade to the Apple TV highlights one of the main selling points of the new gaming subscription service — multi-platform support that will allow users to play the same games on both their iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and soon their Mac, all with game progress saved and synced between devices. Multi-user support is also coming to tvOS 13, so you’ll be able to choose your specific Apple ID to make sure that you’re syncing your own game progress and not that of another family member.
Not surprisingly, however, the experience on the Apple TV will be a little bit different. Many of the games on Apple Arcade support game controllers, however some will explicitly require them in order to play. If you try to install a game that requires a game controller, and haven’t yet paired one to your Apple TV, you’ll receive a warning to this effect. However, since tvOS 13 will add support for Xbox and PS4 game controllers, as least it should be easier to find one to pair up with your Apple TV.
As with the iOS version of Apple Arcade, the service basically works like a free subscription version of the App Store. Apple Arcade games are still downloaded to the local Apple TV, in much the same way as free apps, and parental controls like ratings and “Ask to Buy” are still enforced for Apple Arcade in the same way as the rest of the App Store.