The best Apple TV apps: games, entertainment and 4K essentials

The apps and games you need to download

The best Apple TV apps

Apple's home invasion isn't just about HomeKit and the Siri-enabled HomePod. The company has been invading living rooms for years with the Apple TV, and the Apple TV 4K takes it up a notch by also acting as a smart home hub.

And don't forget about that App Store either, which gives you access to a myriad of apps designed for tvOS, Apple's TV operating system. These apps are built to play big and colourful on your shiny 4K TV. They're a window into the world from your living room, from entertainment to sports to news and weather and more.

Read this: Complete guide to 4K Netflix

It can be difficult to know where to get started with the Apple TV's App Store, so we've picked out some of our favourites for you to try out. And don't forget to check out our guides to the best 4K smart TVs and 4K projectors.

Pro-Tip: Don't forget to head to Settings on your Apple TV, then head to Apps and make sure Automatic Downloads is set to on. That way you can download apps onto your iPhone or iPad and have them install on your Apple TV.

Apple TV apps: Entertainment

The best Apple TV apps and games

Netflix

Probably the first app anyone downloads on any smart TV or streaming box/stick, Netflix is a default option. At this point it's more surprising if you haven't downloaded Netflix onto your TV or streaming box. You'll also get to see things like Stranger Things in wonderful 4K.

Free, Download Netflix

HBO Now/Go

HBO comes in two flavours. There's Go, which is basically the on-demand version of the cable or satellite channel you're already paying for. Or Now is the cord-cutters' dream come true, as you'll be able to get the channel all by its lonesome for $15 a month.

Free, Download HBO Now or HBO Go

Amazon Prime Video

For a long time, Amazon held out on developing a full Amazon Prime Video app for Apple TV, leaving Apple fans out of the loop on one of the best streaming services you can sign up for. No longer, however, as you now can access Prime Video from your Apple TV. Amazon Prime Video also offers 4K streaming, so get ready to watch The Grand Tour in the most beautiful way possible.

Free, Download Amazon Prime Video

Hulu

Hulu is the place to watch TV, and in recent years it's put out original series that can match the best from HBO and Netflix in stuff like The Handmaid's Tale. Plus, it's still one of the best places to see the latest in TV the day after it airs. Unfortunately, no 4K support yet.

Free, Download Hulu

YouTube TV

If you're going to completely ditch cable or satellite, but you want an internet TV option, YouTube TV is going to be your best bet: $40 a month gets you over 40 channels. The best bit of YouTube TV is unlimited cloud DVR, and YouTube will automatically download and store episodes of your favorite shows for viewing later. You can even take your TV on the go with iPhone and iPad apps. Only bad news? No 4K support yet.

Free, Download YouTube TV

Movies Anywhere

If you haven't heard of Movies Anywhere, that's okay. It's a new service from most of the major Hollywood studios, and it basically gives you a convenient place to store your digital movies, no matter where you buy them. So if you buy them from iTunes or Amazon or Vudu, or even use a digital code you get in a Blu-Ray, all of them will live here in Movies Anywhere, making it a convenient way to take your film collection with you digitally. Tip: Make sure your iTunes account is connected to Movies Anywhere. Apple will upgrade all your movies stored in the service to 4K for free, even if they weren't bought from iTunes originally.

Free, Download Movies Anywhere

Plex

Plex has long been a favourite app of those who use a media server, and for a while there Apple TV users had to turn to unofficial apps to get their fix. No longer, as Plex is now officially on Apple TV. You can watch your media a number of ways, from streaming to casting to sharing. There's also a premium TV service and 4K HDR compatibility.

Free, Download Plex

Apple TV apps: News and info

The best Apple TV apps and games

CBS News

CBS News' app is about as simple as you can get. It's essentially one giant streaming news channel. It constantly churns through the news of the day, and it also loops fairly often so if you leave it on in the background you're sure to get your fill. And it is purely news, too; you're not going to get any opinion programs here.

Free, Download CBS News

Reuters TV

Reuters TV asks a simple question: How much time do you have to watch the news? All you have to do is answer that question and the app will tailor you a custom news program, packed with all the information and analysis you need to know, in that timeframe. If only everything worked like that.

Free, Download Reuters TV

Carrot Weather

Carrot Weather is already one of the best apps on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac. So of course it's going to also be one of the best apps on the Apple TV as well. It brings everyone's favourite malevolent AI to your TV screen, snarkily giving you the latest on the weather.

£4.99, Download Carrot Weather

Kitchen Stories

If you're looking to learn some new recipes, it's hard to do better than Kitchen Stories. It provides excellent video recipes, plus there are a number of tutorials on small things – like how to cut onions. You can also save the recipes and get an instant shopping list for you to check off the next time you're at the grocery store.

Free, Download Kitchen Stories

Endless Learning Academy

It's never too early to start teaching your kids. Endless Leaning Academy hopes to jump start education with interactive activities. Your kids will be able to learn their ABCs, spelling, phonics, counting, music and more. They'll be the most prepared kid in preschool.

Free, Download Endless Learning Academy

TED

Everyone needs a dose of inspiration or a good new idea to shiny up their life every once in a while. Hence TED, which provides a wide variety of excellent talks for you to devour. Find out about JJ Abrams' Mystery Box, or why Ariana Huffington credits naps as one of the most important parts of life. The world is yours.

Free, Download TED

Apple TV apps: Games

The best Apple TV apps and games

Minecraft

Like oxygen, Minecraft seems to be everywhere. Naturally it's on Apple TV then, though you will need a gamepad to play it (not that you would want to use the tiny Apple TV remote to play Minecraft). Everything you'd expect from one of the most popular games in the world.

£19.99, Download Minecraft

Monopoly Here & Now

Pfft, who needs a board to play a board game when you've got a perfectly good Apple TV? That's what Monopoly: Here & Now is all about. Gather your friends and family for a long night of trying to screw each other over, with an added bonus of getting to watch the world of Monopoly spring to life. Added bonus? You'll never step on those plastic houses again. Your feet will thank you.

£3.99, Download Monopoly: Here & Now

Smule Sing! Karaoke

Karaoke always works best when you have a large group of friends, which makes the Apple TV version of Smule's popular app absolutely perfect. Gather your friends, connect your iPhones via the app and you're ready to sing together.

Free, Download Smule Sing! Karaoke

Crossy Road

Crossy Road is not only one of the most addictive and simple games you can play, it's absolutely gorgeous up on your Apple TV. No wonder Apple keeps putting this on for kids to play at Apple Stores. It's just lovely to look at.

Free, Download Crossy Road

SketchParty TV

SketchParty TV has long been a staple of Apple TV AirPlay life. Start it on your phone, AirPlay it up to your TV and get going. Except now there's a native app to make the whole process easier. Get a group of friends with iPhones together and race to see who can draw whatever is on the screen.

£4.99, Download SketchParty TV

Apple TV apps: Smart home

The best Apple TV apps and games

Nest

If you've got any Nest cams, whether that be the Cam itself or the Hello video doorbell, you can keep track of what's going on right from your TV. Just download the Nest app and check it out. Plus if you've got a Nest Aware subscription you can take a look at past footage too.

Free, Download Nest

Speedtest

If your streams are buffering or your app download is taking a bit longer than usual, you may want to test your speed to see if there's something officially wrong with your internet. You can download Speedtest and check out how your home network is doing, and how your Apple TV is pulling in that network.

Free, Download Speedtest

Canary

If you've got Canary cameras around your house, you'll be plenty satisfied with the Canary app for Apple TV. If you've got a single camera, you'll be booted into dashboard every time you launch the app. If you've got multiple cameras, you'll get something called 'location view', which will let you choose between your cameras.

Free, Download Canary

Lightbow

Need a way to control all those smart lights in your home? Have you dabbled in products from Philips, LIFX and WeMo? Well, Lightbow is your app. You'll be able to choose from custom animation presets for your lights, create triggers to turn your lights on or off, group them together and, even more simply, just control them.

£4.99, Download Lightbow

Arlo

Arlo cameras are HomeKit capable, so if you want to extend the Apple love you can download the Apple TV app and get a live view of your Arlo cameras.

Free, Download Arlo

Apple TV apps: Other stuff

The best Apple TV apps and games

iBooks Storytime

You will never need to read your child a book again. iBooks Storytime takes care of all that for you. Just choose between a number of options, from Dora to Sesame Street, and watch the book pop to life with narration, automatic page-turning and beautiful animations.

Free, Download iBooks Storytime

Cityscapes 4K

One of the most mesmerising bits of having an Apple TV 4K is getting lost in watching the beautiful 4K screensavers. If you just can't get enough, Cityscapes will scratch that itch for you. There are sunrises, sunsets, night views and more for over 44 cities, including San Francisco, New York City, Paris, London and more.

£2.99, Download Cityscapes 4K

Brian Eno: Reflection

The most expensive app we've listed here. Brian Eno: Reflection takes the ambient music of Brian Eno and creates an audio visual experience with it. If you need to unwind or just need something in the background to calm you a bit, this could do the trick. Maybe you'll even get distracted by the pretty visuals.

£29.99, Download Brian Eno: Reflection

Zova Workout

Zova has a number of different workouts for you to follow along to. Sure, you can do it on your iPhone or iPad, but why follow along with a workout on a screen that small and hard to mount? The Apple TV version is where it's at. Don't forget to sign up for the various programs, which aim for things like improving your core strength or helping you lose weight.

Free, Download Zova Workout

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