Apple TV 4: Hidden Advanced Settings Menu

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The Build Train and Build Number settings refer to tvOS operating system versions. These settings can be altered in order to provide beta testers with pre-release versions of tvOS. If you are able to finagle the build name and release number, you could probably try a future version of tvOS. Given that the current version is a little buggy, I wouldn’t recommend it. It may be possible to downgrade your Apple TV to a previous version using these settings, but I am not certain.

Asset Server and Brain Server URLs refer to Apple’s update servers. These URLs point to servers that provide updates to assets (images, screensavers) and core functionality for your Apple TV. These would most likely be altered in order to provide builds and updates for beta testers.

Personalization is a method to offer specific content to a user. It’s unclear what the Personalization Server URL setting does on Apple TV 4. It may be a placeholder for upcoming functionality. As it stands, the default value is empty, which means it isn’t being used. Apart from your user experience being linked to your Apple ID, the overall tvOS experience isn’t personalized. This setting may be used for beta testers, developers or Apple Store employees.

The Load VPN Profile action is completely disabled. It may be a placeholder for future functionality. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a technology that creates a secure tunnel over the Internet. This allows users to access the Internet as if they were somewhere else — at a corporate office or in another country. People often use VPN to watch Hulu or other steaming services in countries that are blocked. It’s possible that this feature is intended for use by Apple employees. VPNs are commonly used by corporations to securely access internal servers.

Periodic Check Interval specifies the amount of time, in seconds, that Apple TV will check for updates. Given that the default time is 6 days, it seems that this is for tvOS updates. Although you can manually check for tvOS updates (Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software), Apple’s update servers are polled every 6 days to check for new updates. At this point, users are reminded only if there is a new update.

It’s unclear exactly what Sleep Delay does. The default setting is for two hours, so it is not related to the sleep feature on Apple TV. Since it is grouped with update settings, it may provide a way to download updates in the background while the device is idle, similar to the Power Nap feature on Macs.

Slow Update Timeout appears to be a mechanism for stopping stalled tvOS update downloads. Setting this to a smaller value may improve performance on your Apple TV if you have automatic downloads turned on. I have noticed, on my last Apple TV, operating system updates would download in the background. There was no way of disabling it. I would experience poor streaming performance for a few hours and then Apple TV would prompt me to update the system software. I noticed that the update was already downloaded. I turned off automatic updates for both apps and tvOS updates. If you experience poor performance while tvOS updates are downloading in the background, altering this setting may help. (continue…)

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