Apple is trying something new with the latest beta version of tvOS 16.5: the option to watch up to four simultaneous streams at once. Right now it's limited to live sports streamed through the Apple TV app on the Apple TV 4K, specifically MLB Friday Night Baseball and the MLS Season Pass.
A multi-view option was spotted in the tvOS software last month, but the code was hidden and not enabled. MacRumors reported that the feature would be enabled this weekend, and beta testers have since been able to use it.
As yet multi-view hasn't been officially announced by Apple, but it's expected that tvOS 16.5 is going to be pushed out in its final form within the next month or so. WWDC 2023 is around the corner as well, when we should be hearing about the next major updates for Apple's various operating systems – including tvOS 17.
How it works
Over at 9to5Mac there's a hands-on demonstrating how the multi-view feature works, and it's pretty much as you would expect. It becomes available when multiple live games are available through a sports service inside the TV app.
When that's the case and you're watching one live game, a grid icon appears above the playback scrubber when you bring up the controls toolbar. Select this grid icon, and you're able to select a second, third, and fourth game to watch.
You can only hear audio from one stream at a time, and the Siri remote is used to switch between the audio tracks. A variety of layout options are available: you can keep one stream in a larger window than the others, or have all the windows the same size.
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The prevailing thinking is that all of our attention spans are shrinking year on year, but you wouldn't really want to watch four movies simultaneously, or four episodes of the same television show. Where this really makes sense is with sports streams.
Of course you can't exactly partition up your brain to concentrate on four games at once, but a feature like this means you're able to keep checking up on what's happening in multiple locations – very handy if you want to know how rival teams are getting on.
This is really restricted for now: not only do you need beta software, there's only the baseball and the soccer in the US that you can watch. However, it might be a sign that Apple is planning to invest more heavily in sports programming in the future.
There have been rumors that Apple is looking to secure rights to show Premier League soccer from the UK – although it's worth bearing in mind that those rights might not include the option to broadcast multiple games simultaneously.