WWDC 2021: tvOS 15 will let you sign into apps with on an iPhone or iPad
Now that Apple has shipped an improved remote for the Apple TV, it might seem like your tvOS woes are over—but even with a better input device, entering login credentials by picking one letter at a time is still a bummer.
However, starting in tvOS 15 this fall, developers will be able to implement a new authentication method for logging in: using another Apple device like an iPhone or iPad.
Previously, users have been able to use their iOS device’s TV remote feature to type in text on their Apple TV, or even fill in passwords from iCloud Keychain, but this takes things a step further. When you select the Sign in with Apple Device on tvOS, a notification gets sent to a nearby Apple device.
That notification will summon a prompt where you can sign in with suggested password from iCloud Keychain, and authenticate via Face ID. (Or, presumably, Touch ID, on a compatible device.) You can also manually enter the password directly on your iPhone or iPad, if need be. Once authenticated, you’ll be logged into the app on your Apple TV.
This method joins a roster of other methods that Apple has used to attempt to simplify the login process in tvOS apps, including signing in with TV providers, zero sign on, Restore Purchases, and so on. Unfortunately, some of the options that required adoption by third parties, such as cable providers, have been slow and only cover certain cases.
Signing in with an Apple device seems like it will make this process easier in many cases, it will be interesting to see how many developers integrate the feature (seeing as how dedicated many of them seem to be at reinventing the wheel).
But while the preponderance of options might make signing in more versatile, they don’t necessarily make it simpler. And Apple could still improve the process of setting up a new Apple TV from scratch, rather than having you go through this login process for every single app that you own—when it already presumably has your passwords for all of those services stored conveniently in iCloud Keychain.1
My presumption for why the Apple TV can’t simply summon passwords from iCloud Keychain is that it lacks the necessary authenication options—such as Face ID or Touch ID—and entering your iCloud Keychain password via the remote would be a lateral move at best. But who knows, perhaps the next version of the Siri Remote will include Touch ID. ↩