You can now download tvOS 16 for Apple TV 4K… but you shouldn't

The Apple TV 4K 2021 and its remote sitting on a table
(Image credit: Future)

The public beta of tvOS 16 – the next software update for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD – is now available to download in the form of a public beta. That means you could get early access to the new features that are coming in an official release later this year.

However, the operative word there is 'could' – yes, you could get early access to the beta, and those features. But you shouldn't.

Software 'beta' releases are early, unfinished versions of updates that are designed for testing, in order for developers to see where bugs, crashes and other weird things happen when software is exposed to the real world, rather than just a development environment.

Developers use beta releases of software to test their apps or try out new features before the updates go out to everyone, enabling them to catch any problems before they become widespread.

But Apple also makes beta releases available to any regular users of devices who dare to try them. In the case of software like iOS 16 or iPadOS 16, people want to do this so they can try out the cool new features as soon as they can, and Apple gets some useful feedback as a result.

But there's a hardcore rule about beta software: never – ever – install it on your primary device. That's because it's possible for beta software to delete data, or to 'brick' a device, rendering it totally useless, and there's often no way to know if that's a danger or not until it happens to you.

People who are super into iPhones will often have an extra old iPhone lying around, so they can test iOS 16 on their backup phone. But how many people keep a recent spare Apple TV 4K in a drawer? 

So it would already be inadvisable to install tvOS 16 simply on safety grounds. But here's the other thing: it doesn't have cool new features that would make it worth trying anyway.

tvOS 16's upgrades aren't worth the risk

The problem with tvOS 16 is that there just isn't much to it, meaning it's not really worth pushing it to your device as soon as you possibly could get it. There's some interesting support for more multi-device communication in apps, but you'll have to wait for actual apps to support that, so there's no point worrying about it yet.

The new Matter smart home support is also no good until all your Apple devices support Matter and have this new system active – and that's even if you have anything that works with Matter. If you've no idea what I'm talking about, then… well, it kind of drives home my point.

If you really want to be able to use your Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers with your Apple TV, then… well, you should probably just wait until later in the year anyway.

The most interesting thing about tvOS 16 betas will be whether they reveal anything about the new Apple TV 4K rumored for later this year, or early next year. We've already seen a slip about a new Siri Remote in the iOS 16 beta, so maybe we'll find more evidence.

But most of us should leave that to the professionals. 

Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.