Apple TV missing manual: Your guide to the box, the app, TV+ and more

Apple TV is no longer just a box, but an entire platform. Let’s break it down

Apple TV: Ultimate guide
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Apple’s interest in the TV has spanned decades – all the way back to 1993 with the launch of the ill-fated Macintosh TV. In 2006 the company finally launched Apple TV, a small streaming box, but until his death Steve Jobs was still grappling with the idea of revolutionising the way we watch TV.

Today, we might have a better idea of what Jobs was thinking. The company is overhauling Apple TV to make it a proper storefront for major services and channels, while also offering a tier of Apple-made original programming.

Read this: Apple TV 4K review

It’s also bringing Apple TV to televisions and devices beyond its own, meaning you don’t even need to have an iOS device to plug into Apple’s TV platform, let alone an Apple TV box. Let us explain all.

What is Apple TV?

What started out as a bit of a hobby project for Apple has turned into a fantastic device for cord cutters – not to mention millions of devices sold for the company. Not bad for a "hobby", eh? Apple TV has evolved over the years, but the idea remains essentially the same: Apple TV is a streaming box that brings all your favourite streaming apps and services together under one roof.

Apple TV refers to a little box you place under your television, but you might also hear it referred to as an app. That's because the Apple TV app is available on devices beyond this box, including iPhones and iPads (where it comes pre-installed), but now also smart TVs from third-party manufacturers.

The Apple TV box connects to your television through HDMI and to the Wi-Fi. From there, you have access to a range of apps like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and plenty more. If you have cable, you can connect your Apple TV to your cable provider, which will open access to other channels – Comedy Central, NBC, Starz etc – and their own apps.

Beyond that, the Apple TV can be used as an AirPlay receiver, a HomeKit hub, a place to view photos and videos from your iPhone, and even a games console. We'll delve into these further down, but first let's talk about the new Apple TV app.

Apple TV missing manual: Your guide to the app, TV Channels, TV+ and more

How does the new Apple TV app work?

The Apple TV interface is populated with apps from all the services you're signed up with, but there's also an Apple TV app itself on there. Until recently, the app served as more of a showcase for what was hot on other services, and would redirect you to those respective apps if you wanted to watch something.

The new app will let you subscribe to services and watch content from the app, making it more of a one-stop-shop for users. Similar to how Apple showcases certain apps and games on its App Store, it's using the new app to point you to movies and TV from various providers. There are even genre sections, similar to how Netflix is laid out.

There's also Apple TV Channels, a way to subscribe to services such as HBO and Starz from within the Apple TV app, so you won't need the service's individual app to use it. It’s exactly what Amazon does with Prime Video, so Apple’s not really invented anything new here; it’s just making the Apple TV app more convenient and giving you one less reason to leave it.

Here’s a full list of the Apple TV Channels confirmed so far: Acorn TV, BritBox, CBS All Access, Cinemax, CollegeHumor’s Dropout, Epix, Eros Now, HBO, Lifetime Movie Club, Mubi, MTV Hits, Nickelodeon Hits, Noggin, PBS Living, Showtime, Shudder, Smithsonian Channel Plus, Starz, Sundance Now, Tastemade, Up Faith and Family, and Urban Movie Channel.

The new Apple TV app is available on the Apple TV box (Gen 4 and later) as well as iPhones and iPads, where you'll also be able to browse and watch content, as well as download movies and shows for offline viewing.

Apple TV missing manual: Your guide to the service, hardware, TV Channels and TV+

Apple TV+ explained

The revamped app isn't the only major Apple TV event happening in 2019. The real reason Steven Spielberg, Oprah and J.J. joined Tim Cook on stage in Cupertino back in March was to make a splash for Apple TV+, the company's first serious play at original programming. This is Apple going Hollywood.

TV+ will be available through the TV app and will be filled exclusively with Apple's original programming. Think of it as the equivalent of Netflix Originals, but… Apple Originals. All this content will be exclusive to the TV+ app, which will cost extra on top of whatever you're already subscribed to. The company is keeping quiet on what the price will be, but it will be a monthly subscription.

Apple TV missing manual: Your guide to the app, TV Channels, TV+ and more

Apple TV: The devices

The Apple TV box right now exists in two forms: the Apple TV 4K and the Apple TV HD. Other than the obvious differentiator here – 4K – the 4K model also gets HDR10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support. Of course, you'll also need the requisite supporting TV and audio equipment to make use of these features. If you don't have that, don't worry, the "regular" fourth-gen Apple TV still hosts all the same content and apps. There's also the new Apple TV iOS app, which essentially turns iPhones and iPads into Apple TV devices too.

Apple TV 4K
Apple TV 4K

Until recently, the Apple TV app lived entirely within the company’s walled garden, but it understands that in order to push services, like the TV app's new TV+ streaming service, it has to think beyond its own devices. That’s why the Apple TV app has launched on Samsung smart TVs and will come to sets from LG, Vizio and Sony too. It's also coming to Roku and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, the latter of which might be the most surprising of all. It's even hitting the Mac, but not until the autumn.

How to set up your Apple TV

As with most things Apple, the TV setup is a breeze. You'll need to connect it to your TV with an HDMI cable (handily, one comes in the box) and then simply turn on the TV. Also in the box is the Apple TV remote, which you'll most likely be using to control the TV – but you have the option of controlling it with an iOS device too.

Once you're plugged in and the TV is turned to the correct HDMI port, push the Menu button on the remote to wake it up. You'll then be walked through the process of connecting the TV to your Wi-Fi. Pro tip: if you have your iPhone or iPad nearby and it's up to date, you can hold it near the Apple TV to send over your network info, negating the need to enter it manually. Just make sure the iPhone/iPad Bluetooth is switched on.

After this, you'll be asked if you want to connect to your TV cable provider. Don't worry if you don't want to do this now, as you can set it up any time by heading into Settings. But if you do connect here, you'll need to verify yourself, after which you'll be shown all the channels available through your provider, and you'll be able to choose the ones you want to add.

Apple TV missing manual: Your guide to the service, hardware, TV Channels and TV+

Apple TV: 4K and Dolby

Be sure to check out our full guide to everything Apple TV 4K, but we'll give you the headlines here.

The Apple TV 4K actually supports several versions of 4K: 4K with standard range, 4K with HDR10 and 4K with Dolby Vision HDR. HDR10 (high dynamic-range video) is static – it applies the same tone to the entire TV show or movie – while Dolby Vision can change this dynamically in the moment, making it the better technology.

iTunes is one of the few places offering 4K, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos movies and TV shows – and this library is one of Apple's biggest strengths against the competition. It will even upgrade your old HD content to 4K Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for free if it's available.

Apple TV: How to use Siri

Siri runs the gamut of Apple's devices in 2019, and the assistant can be especially handy on the Apple TV, not only for finding things to watch, but for controlling the smart home (more on that in the next section).

To access Siri on the Apple TV you have to press and hold the microphone button on the remote and start speaking. This means you don't have to say "Hey Siri" each time you want to talk to it (unlike the Amazon Fire TV Cube, Apple's assistant isn't listening from the Apple TV box itself). One thing we love about Siri in the Apple TV box is its ability to search third-party content as well as Apple's own – which will be all the more important when the revamped Apple TV app rolls out. Check out our top list of Siri commands for Apple TV.

A new feature that's just arrived also adds the ability to use Siri on an iPhone or iPad to control the Apple TV. So you can simply say, "Watch [movie name] on Apple TV" and have it beam it across (Note: If you have more than one Apple TV in your home, you'll have to specify which one you mean).

One other thing to be aware of with Siri on the Apple TV: it doesn't talk back. So if you ask for a weather update, you'll see a brief on-screen alert rather than hear Siri read it aloud. This is done to stop Siri blabbering away when you're trying to watch something, and we're fine with it.

Apple TV missing manual: Your guide to the app, TV Channels, TV+ and more

How to use HomePod as an Apple TV speaker

Apple's smart speaker works nicely as an Apple TV speaker, which you'll need to connect using AirPlay. First, make sure that the Apple TV’s AirPlay is on by heading to Settings and tapping on AirPlay. Here you’ll be able to enable it (if it’s not already) and set network access rules. Then get the HomePod connected.

1. On the Apple TV, go to Settings and then Video and Audio.
2. Scroll down to find Audio Output.
3. In Audio Output, you should see a list of all the AirPlay speakers on the network. The HomePod will appear here. Select it and it should connect in a second or two. Remember, with AirPlay 2, you can connect multiple speakers here, should you want to.

If you already know that AirPlay is active on your Apple TV, you can also bring up the audio menu by simply holding down the play/pause button when looking at the home screen.

How to use Apple TV a HomeKit hub

If you're a HomeKit user, you'll need to create a "hub" in order to do things like set up automations and control your smart gadgets remotely. This hub can live on a HomePod, iPad, Apple TV 4th-gen or Apple TV 4K. Here's how to get it set up.

How to reset the Apple TV

A common question is how to restart the Apple TV, and there are two ways to do it: a "soft" restart and a hard reset back to factory settings. If it's a simple soft restart you need, simply hold the Menu and Home buttons down for six seconds (ignore the sleep menu that pops up).

If you have one of the older aluminum or white remotes, it's Menu and Down you need to hold for the six seconds instead. If you need to reset back to factory settings, head to our full guide on resetting the Apple TV where we'll walk you through the process.

How to turn off Apple TV

To put the Apple TV to "sleep" at any moment, simply hold down the Menu button on the remote until the sleep option pops up. If you have a smart TV that supports it, the Apple TV can also power it down when it goes to sleep itself. This should come switched on by default, but you can always change it by going to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Control TVs and Receivers.

Apple TV missing manual: Your guide to the service, hardware, TV Channels and TV+

The best Apple TV apps

If you own an Apple TV box, you'll already know it's a well-fed platform. All the familiar faces are here: Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video. There's also iTunes, which opens up a wide library of movies and TV shows to download and watch on Apple TV.

The revamped Apple TV app makes it more useful, but chances are you'll be stepping outside of it for some services, and definitely if you plan to use other apps like Photos or to play games.

TAGGED    apple    televisions

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