Compete guide to the Apple TV App Store, plus how to find the best apps

Navigating the App Store, and using Apps on the Apple TV

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How to navigate the App Store for Apple TV

When it comes to navigating the App Store for the Apple TV, we have to admit, it could be easier to find things. When the early birds who bought Apple TVs in the first week of launch went on the App Store the experience was quite frustrating because Apple was only really pushing a handful of apps and it was nigh on impossible to find anything else that might interest you.

In those early days the only apps you would see were the Featured apps (basically the ones Apple had cherry picked). This was also annoying for the developers who’s apps weren’t being featured, as the only way a user could find these apps was to search for them (using that annoying keyboard).

Developers couldn’t even email a link to users so they could download the app via their email. (When a developer launches an iOS app they can send a link to that app that will divert from the web to the local app store, but there is no way of doing this for Apple TV apps.) We have to say, in these early days it was almost as if Apple was hiding the apps at launch - perhaps they didn’t feel there were enough or that those there were good enough…

Luckily, less than a week after the launch of the Apple TV, Apple updated the App Store to make it slightly easier to find apps. Apple added a Categories section on the Apple TV App Store, although it’s still limited, unfortunately. Right now the categories are very Games and Entertainment focused, so there’s still work to be done there.

As of Deember 2015 there are apparently more than 2,000 new apps already in the tvOS App Store.

The App Store categories you can explore are:

What to Watch

What to Play

Best New Apps

Gorgeous Games

More Games to Explore

More Apps to Explore

Top Charts

Purchased

Search

In top charts you will find:

Top Paid Apps

Top Free Apps

Top Grossing Apps

Next »

Next Prev apple tv featured

When it comes to navigating the App Store for the Apple TV, we have to admit, it could be easier to find things. When the early birds who bought Apple TVs in the first week of launch went on the App Store the experience was quite frustrating because Apple was only really pushing a handful of apps and it was nigh on impossible to find anything else that might interest you.

In those early days the only apps you would see were the Featured apps (basically the ones Apple had cherry picked). This was also annoying for the developers who’s apps weren’t being featured, as the only way a user could find these apps was to search for them (using that annoying keyboard).

Developers couldn’t even email a link to users so they could download the app via their email. (When a developer launches an iOS app they can send a link to that app that will divert from the web to the local app store, but there is no way of doing this for Apple TV apps.) We have to say, in these early days it was almost as if Apple was hiding the apps at launch - perhaps they didn’t feel there were enough or that those there were good enough…

Luckily, less than a week after the launch of the Apple TV, Apple updated the App Store to make it slightly easier to find apps. Apple added a Categories section on the Apple TV App Store, although it’s still limited, unfortunately. Right now the categories are very Games and Entertainment focused, so there’s still work to be done there.

As of Deember 2015 there are apparently more than 2,000 new apps already in the tvOS App Store.

The App Store categories you can explore are:

What to Watch

What to Play

Best New Apps

Gorgeous Games

More Games to Explore

More Apps to Explore

Top Charts

Purchased

Search

In top charts you will find:

Top Paid Apps

Top Free Apps

Top Grossing Apps

 

Step 2 of 11: How to avoid adding a password to download apps on the Apple TV

Explore the tvOS App Store and find some apps you want to install.

Installing an app is pretty straightforward. Expect some to download quickly and others to take a little longer (Apple has capped app size at 200MB, but sometimes a particularly graphics intensive game might need to download resources as well and that could take a while longer).

You don’t have to wait while an app downloads though, you can move on to the next App Store goodie.

Perhaps the biggest frustration here is that you will have to enter your Apple ID password to download the first app (with that horrid onscreen keyboard). You can however choose a setting where you don’t have to enter your password every time, which we’d advise you to do, unless you have kids in the house that are likely to get a bit download happy.

If you miss this initial prompt to disable the password, you can access it via Settings > iTunes and App Store > Password Settings. But if you’d rather keep some level of security, go to: Settings > General Restricts. Create a four digit passcode. Go to Purchase and Rental and turn on Restrict. From now on you will only need to enter a passcode when you want to make a purchase.

UPDATE: In addition, Facebook is making it easier to log onto the Apple TV.

The social media company has released an SDK to developers that allows them to add a ‘Login with Facebook’ button to the Apple TV interface. The Facebook login will be a 8 digit code code that can be entered on a tablet or smartphone to authorize an app, rather than using the fiddly Siri Remote and Apple TV onscreen keyboard combo, according to a 9to5Mac report

 

Step 3 of 11: Setting up Family Sharing or multiple Apple IDs on the Apple TV

Speaking of the kids, it’s possible to set up Family Sharing on the Apple TV so you can watch movies and TV shows, and use apps that are associated with other family members accounts. Beware that once you have set up Family Sharing all purchases by any family member will be made from the same credit or debit card. Up to six people can be part of the Family Sharing account.

You can also add more than one Apple ID to your Apple TV if you would rather control what content was available to everyone (and not have your spouse spending your money on games).

Here’s how to set up Family Sharing:  You can set up Family Sharing on your Mac, iOS device, and on a PC via iCloud. The Family Organiser has to set up Family Sharing (this is the person who’s credit card will take the strain). You can turn on Ask to Buy if you want to make sure people can’t just spend spend spend, this way when a child initiates a purchase the Family Organiser will get an alert so they can approve or decline the download (this also applies to free downloads).

On an iOS device go to iCloud > Family > Add Family Member. The Family Member will then get an alert informing them that they can join Family Sharing. You’ll have to adding the credit or debit card here.

If you don’t already have an account set up for the kids you can Create an Apple ID for a child here, but infuriatingly you have to assign a credit card to the account - a debit card won’t suffice. Not everyone has credit cards Apple!

Assuming you don’t fall at this hurdle you will have set up Family Sharing for your family. [For more details, here's our tutorial on setting up Family Sharing]

If you would rather just enter multiple Apple IDs for use on the Apple TV doing so is similarly straightforward. To associate multiple Apple IDs start by adding a new Apple ID to your Apple TV by going to Settings > Accounts > iTunes and App Store. When a new ID is added family members will be able to switch between accounts in Settings > Accounts > iTunes and App Store.

This isn’t a new feature, it’s actually been possible since 2014’s Apple TV 5.1 update which allowed users to save more than one iTunes account to the Apple TV.

What it means is that you can use more than one account to purchase content. And if you switch to a different account you have access to and see all the content associated with that account.

This also works if your accounts are in different countries, although you will have to change your country setting to match each account when you first log in, but the Apple TV will remember those settings, luckily. [Read: Apple ID: How to find, change, create or delete your Apple ID | How to change your Apple ID password]

 

Step 4 of 11: How to move apps around and personalise your Apple TV home screen

Now that you have some apps on your Home Screen you may be looking for some ways to manage and personalise the way it looks.

When you add an app to your Apple TV the app icon will appear at the bottom of the home screen. Luckily you can move any app around and reorganise your home screen in the way that suits you, just like you can move apps around on the iPhone.

To move your apps around swipe on the trackpad at the top of the Siri Remote to navigate to an app, press down on the trackpad until the app starts to jiggle and then move it to its new location using the track pad. This behaviour will be familiar to anyone used to moving apps around on the iPad or iPhone.  

You can also move your favourite apps into the top row, which you couldn’t do previously (on the old Apple TV this row is reserved for Apple apps). The great thing about putting apps up in this row is that when you select an app you will see highlights relating to that app in the list above your app icons. For example, if you select the Netflix icon and you will see the Popular on Netflix links in the top shelf and you can jump straight to them.

 

Step 5 of 11: How to delete Apple TV apps you don’t want

Perhaps you got a bit over zealous with your Apple TV app downloads and would like to have a clear out. It’s easy to remove apps from your Apple TV (don’t worry, you can get them back whenever you like without having to pay again - just look them up on the store and re-download).

To delete an app on the Apple TV navigate to the unwanted app by swiping on the top of the Siri Remote, highlight it, and press down on the touch surface of the remote until the app to start to jiggle. Then press the play/pause button and you will see a confirmation screen to check that you really want to delete the app. Choose to Delete (or cancel if you change your mind).

As usual with Apple, you won’t be able to delete apps that shipped with the device.

 

Step 6 of 11: Switch or close apps on the Apple TV - Using the App Switcher

The Apple TV makes it easy to switch between open apps. To do so, just double tap the home button and you will see an app switcher. Swipe with the track pad until you get to the app you want.

You can close an app by opening the app switcher by double pressing the home button then swiping over to the app you want to force quit and swiping up on the touch surface. Officially this shouldn’t be necessary, but if an app is playing up it may be useful to know.

 

Step 7 of 11: Get back storage space on the Apple TV

Your Apple TV will come with either 32GB or 64GB of space and if you are really addicted to downloading apps you could get to a point where you fill up the storage available. To keep tabs on the amount of storage you have available you can check how much space you have left at Settings > General > Manage Storage.

Here you will see how many apps are stored and how much space each takes up. You can then delete the biggest space hogs by highlighting them and tapping the trash can icon beside each. You can also delete apps from the home screen.

Hopefully this won’t be a big issue though. Apple is limiting the ‘static size’ of any one app to 200MB and if an app is bigger than this it will download other parts of itself ‘on demand’. rather than holding all the tracks permanently in your Apple TV storage, the Apple TV will manage this process, deleting old stuff to make way for new.

 

Step 8 of 11: Best Games for Apple TV

If the Top Charts section is anything to go by, Games are by far the most popular types of Apps on the Apple TV - although it has to be said, that they are also in the majority when compared to other types of apps.

For now, while we wait for the other content, games are probably the biggest features of the new Apple TV.

The most popular games right now are: Galaxy On Fire, Does Not Commute, Lumino City, and Alto’s Adventure. While Beat Sports is the top of the Top Paid and Top Grossing apps.

However, finding games beyond what’s popular and what’s been promoted is difficult.

Luckily for you, we have a round up of Best Games for Apple TV here.

Another thing to note is that Apple’s remote isn’t great for playing games on the Apple TV. Even those games we play using the touch interface on our iPads and iPhone aren’t translating well. However, it is possible to sync a game controller with the Apple TV, as we demonstrate below.

 

Step 9 of 11: Best Apps for Apple TV

Most of the apps available for the Apple TV are games, but there are a few apps available that aren’t for those who like to while away the hours shooting aliens.

The 7 Minute Workout - this is just one of the many work out apps for the Apple TV to try out.

Smule Sing! Karaoke - we’re not sure if this counts as a game rather than an app, but we’re putting it here under apps. We think it’s the most fun app on the Apple TV, but we’re Karaoke addicts.

Airbnb - you can view Airbnb on the big screen and choose your accommodation together.

Touchpress - this is a new way to experience classical music performances, with live recordings of orchestral pieces.

Houzz - for all your interior design needs.

Madefire - a fun way of reading comic books.

Periscope - you can watch livestreams from around the world, perhaps checkout where to go on your next holiday.

Podcasts - as yet there is no Podcasts app for the Apple TV (although one is said to be coming). For now you can listen to podcasts via your Apple TV by beaming them from the podcast app on your iPhone or iPad. Just start playing the podcast and select the airplay button by swiping up on your device and selecting Apple TV as the source. The only issue is that if someone calls you on your phone it will interrupt the playback, but then we’re sure you would want to give that person your full attention anyway.

We have a round up of Best Apps here.

 

Step 10 of 11: Best entertainment content, TV & movies on the Apple TV

There are already thousands of apps available for the Apple TV with more arriving every day, this is already more than the competition offers. However, it appears that, at least in the UK, the majority of these apps are games. If it’s TV and movies you are after it looks like we have a wait before that content is available.

In the meantime we have Netflix and iTunes - and most recently Now TV available, but there are more ‘channels’ on the way including BBC iPlayer.

Netflix - this is the real reason most people own an Apple TV in the UK (let’s face it, there’s not much else on offer in terms of box sets and movies) costs £5.99 a month and gives you access to a huge library of content. Our only complaint is that we preferred the Netflix channel on the old Apple TV to the Netflix app on the new Apple TV, it was easier to navigate.

Now TV - this is basically a Sky subscription without a satellite dish, is now available on the 4th generation Apple TV. It wasn’t initially available on tvOS, despite being available on the older Apple TV.

To take advantage of Now TV on the new Apple TV you’ll need to sign up for a pass: the Entertainment Month Pass is £6.99 per month; Sky Movies Month Pass is £9.99 per month; and the Sky Sports Day Pass is £6.99 a day. You can get a free 14-day trial for Entertainment and Sky Movies.

iPlayer - The BBC has confirmed iPlayer is on it’s way, but we don’t know when it will arrive. Until it does you can only watch iPlayer on a TV connected to an Apple TV if you use AirPlay to stream it to the box. The lack of On Demand content for the Apple TV is a key reason why people in the UK are turning to other set top boxes like the Roku which do offer the On Demand channels. See the next slide for how to watch iPlayer on the Apple TV now.

Wimbledon - The tennis may also appear on the Apple TV next summer, the Wimbledon digital boss Alexandra Willis told Marketing. However, the Wimbledon app wouldn’t show live gameplay, but rather archive footage or analysis, which seems a bit of a missed opportunity.

Al Jazeera - This is one of the first news outlets to appear on the Apple TV. Users will be able to save videos for later viewing, access all saved content from the Watch List, have 24-hour access to Al Jazeera’s live video stream and follow a full schedule to see what’s coming up later in the day.

Plex - For the first time the Plex media server has been made officially available on the Apple TV (previously to get Plex you had to jailbreak the Apple TV, and it’s only available on the new Apple TV now). It lets you view media stored on your computer (videos, TV shows, and so on) and stream it to your iOS device or Apple TV. When you install it it will scan your Mac and present all your media in an iTunes like interface. The Apple TV app is free, unlike the iPhone app which requires an in-app purchase to unlock functionality. Plex is free. You may have to download the latest media server and install it on your NAS drive. Read our Plex for Apple TV review

YouTube - There’s a YouTube App for Apple TV, as you’d expect. 

Amazon Video - Amazon is said to be bringing Amazon Video to the new Apple TV. TechCrunch reports that iOS developer Dan Bostonweeks contacted Amazon and was told that the company is “currently working in developing a new app for the Apple TV. As we have already succeeded in developing an app for iPhone and iPad, we hope to make an app separately for the Apple TV. Hopefully, within a few weeks span, you will be able to see the Amazon Instant Video app feature on your Apple TV.”

Perhaps when the app is available for Apple TV Amazon will start selling the Apple TV – the company took it off sale as part of its strategy to sell only products that were compatible with its TV service. We aren’t clear if there will be an Amazon Prime app for the Apple TV, which would at least bring Top Gear to that device. Note that, at least for now, you can only download Amazon Video on the US App Store.

 

Step 11 of 11: How to watch iPlayer on the Apple TV

The BBC has revealed that it will launch an iPlayer app for Apple TV - it had previously said it wouldn’t but appears to have bowed down to public pressure.

Now the BBC has made an about turn and has announced that a BBC iPlayer app will come to the Apple TV "in coming months". In an article on the BBC website the company reveals that: "The catch-up app is not ready to launch alongside the revamped set top box [which is on sale now]".

While we are waiting for the BBC to release their Apple TV iPlayer app, you can still watch BBC iPlayer content on your Apple TV, assuming you are in the UK. You just need the iPlayer app on your iPad or iPhone. Use AirPlay to connect to your Apple TV and watch it there.

There is also a concept iPlayer app out there created by a couple of developers from Dorset in an attempt to encourage the BBC to create an iPlayer app for the new device.

The proof of concept app - which isn’t available on the App Store - is called Auntie Player.

According to the BBC article, ITV has no plans to to release an app for Apple TV.

Read Next:

Compete guide to the Apple TV App Store, plus how to find the best apps

How to set up the new Apple TV

New Apple TV 2015 review

New Apple TV vs old Apple TV

Best Apple TV game controllers

Best Apple TV games

Best Apple TV Apps

Things to say to Siri on the Apple TV

How to use the Siri Remote on the Apple TV

How to play music on the Apple TV

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