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Hands-On With the New Apple TV: A Look at the tvOS App Store

One of the key features of the new Apple TV is the full App Store, which mirrors the iOS App Store and allows third-party developers to create a range of apps and games for the device. We went hands-on with the new Apple TV and took a look at the App Store to give MacRumors readers a better idea of how it works.

Anyone who has downloaded an iOS app on an iPhone or an iPad will be familiar with the way the tvOS App Store works. When first logging in, the Apple TV interface is rather empty, because standard apps, like Netflix, must be downloaded from the tvOS App Store. There are a wide range of games and apps already available, and we've catalogued a number of them in a list.

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Games in the tvOS App Store are controlled with the included touch-based Siri remote, which can be used as a touch screen or as a controller similar to the Wii Remote. The Apple TV also supports third-party Made for iPhone certified Bluetooth gaming controllers.

The tvOS App Store has faced some criticism because it’s difficult to discover new content. The App Store only displays a limited selection of featured apps and beyond that, the only way to locate content is through search. Unlike the iOS App Store, there’s no top list and there’s no way to browse through different genres to find apps. That may change in the future as tvOS evolves, but for now, it can be difficult to find all the available apps to install.

Apple is selling the new Apple TV in retail stores and from the online Apple Store. It’s priced at $149 for 32GB of storage and $199 for 64GB of storage.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 13
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

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52 months ago

Says right in the article: "The App Store only displays a limited selection of featured apps and beyond that, the only way to locate content is through search. Unlike the iOS App Store, there's no top list and there's no way to browse through different genres to find apps."

Obviously these will be fixed via a simple change on Apple's side when there are actually enough apps to WARRANT categories. How many apps do you think there actually are already (again, the device has been out for 12 HOURS) that need a robust catalog system?

Here's the thing. I, as well as many other developers, busted my ass to get my app ready in time for launch. Worked late nights, missed some family time, etc. to get the app done for launch. It's in the store, but guess what, no one knows its there, because there is no way to see it unless you know it exists. I don't have money to launch a marketing campaign for it, I have to rely on the tools that Apple provides to get it off the ground. Taking away categories is doing nothing more than ****ing over the vast majority of the developers that are providing software for their hardware. Unless you are in that ~5% to be featured, you have literally no exposure. You are relying on people seeing your app online somewhere, remembering it, dealing with the clunky "keyboard" to search it out by name, and then download it. You can't link directly to it for purchase, you can't even see it in the iTunes Store on desktop.

The device may have been out for 12 hours, but they sent out dev kits ~6 weeks ago, there are somewhere around 500 apps right now. It may not be enough to fill every possible category, but it certainly is enough that there needs to be a way to see them all without knowing the name of them.

Right now, no, there isn't a need for top lists, especially considering how in flux they'd be, but categories are a must.
Rating: 22 Votes
52 months ago
Oh god. Already people crying "fail!!" because there's no top sales list for an App Store on a device that came out less than 12 hours ago. That's a new level of pathetic.

Have none of you ever used an apple product? Obviously they will make adjustments in the coming days. Hit up Cosby for some wine if that's what it takes, but chill out instead of carrying on like children having a tantrum because the candles on your cake were the wrong color.
Rating: 16 Votes
52 months ago

A major Apple flop. Wake me when OS version 4.0 is out, same goes with Apple Watch.

I would rather to let you sleep forever. This is the best thing I have ever bought! Love my ATV Apple did such a good job, I can't wait to see more Apps.
Rating: 11 Votes
52 months ago
Discoverability is basically zero at the moment. One laborious way to see everything in the store (and there's not much) is to start a search, then just leave it at 'a', or 'b', etc. It will then show you all apps starting with that letter.

Quality is very low on the whole and I'm seeing a worrying number of Roku style hardcore religious insanity apps on there. Hopefully the ATV app store won't end up like the cess pit that is the Roku channel store.

Of course the list of missing apps is crazy big at the moment, at least in the UK. No BBC iPlayer, no Amazon Prime, no MUBI, no Now TV, no All4, and many more. It's bare bones in the extreme.
Rating: 7 Votes
52 months ago

For those complainers out there, the first iPhone from "Steve" lacked 3G and an App Store. They built it later after feedback. This is no different. Seriously, give it a rest

The first AppleTV (while Steve was alive and kicking and the iPhone was still a secret project) didn't have an App Store either. It came out first in September of 2006! This is a generation FOUR AppleTV so if you're going to make such a ridiculous comparison, then compare it to the iPhone 4 and tell me it didn't have an App Store or polished features.

Apple has had NINE YEARS to get the AppleTV to this point. In case you don't remember, the AppleTV PREDATES the very first iPhone by NINE MONTHS! (it came out in June 2007). The first version of AppleTV ran a version of OS X Tiger for god's sake! Yeah, but don't complain that this thing wasn't ready for release. Everyone be a good fanboy and bless Apple for all they do for us, one and all! :apple:
Rating: 7 Votes
52 months ago

im pretty sure, neither steve jobs or tim cook are the only ones who comes up with the creative ideas.. They have the best bunch of people, who are still working there from the steve jobs era, to do the innovations.. Don't worry

I also bet this was on the drawing board when jobs was around, since he said he cracked it.

1) No, go back and read Isaacson's quote a bit closer. He said Jobs said he thought he finally "cracked" TV but didn't say what that way. Amazon had voice recognition in its Fire TV before Apple so if this is what Jobs was referring to Amazon beat it to the punch. But it's not that great of an innovation. I certainly wouldn't say it's "cracked" anything.

2) Steve Jobs passed away 4 years ago. In that time almost everything out of Apple has been incomplete -- Maps, Siri, CarPlay, ATV4, Watch, or just blah - Mac specs (video cards pretty much gutted these days), OS X more complicated and yes more dumbed down than ever. Tablet sales are moribund and the iPad updates almost non-existent. Music seems to not be gaining traction even after the big Beats, Dre, and Iovine buy out. And now it is copying Google on it's self driving car as if Apple needed another hobby.

I agree Tim Cook deserved time to get his sea legs as CEO but he really hasn't accomplished much on his watch as it were. All of Apple's earnings come from legacy products. He's shown us nothing new and exciting that could be Apple's next bread and butter product.

So yes, I do "worry" that Apple has had its best moments as far as being a tech leader of the fresh. Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. He is interested solely in moving product. He's almost the exact opposite of Woz who loved to innovate for the hell of it. Steve loved to innovate and sell the hell out of it. Tim Cook reminds me of John Scully, doesn't care what the hell he's selling as long as it sells.

I think you have a bit too much blind faith. The crew at Apple worked so brilliantly because Jobs knew how to push them in the right direction. Tim Cook only knows how to push product out of warehouses.
Rating: 5 Votes
52 months ago

I totally agree with your points and like to add that for me personally the greed is starting to get old.....
None upgradable hardware and the way the Apple Watch was launched left a bad taste in my mouth.

Right now they still have the better hardware and operating systems but they better keep it that way because as soon as that changes I'm out of there.... You can only nickel and dime for so long.

I agree. I've been a customer for 33 years and today's Apple is starting to remind me of 90s Apple (and Microsoft for that matter). There's a lack of attention to detail and the executive team is more interested in fashion than tech these days. They are nickel and diming for services that don't work reliably. How Eddy Cue still has a job is beyond me. He's the most inept Apple executive in years, yet Forstall, someone with actual tech chops and cred, was scapegoated and squeezed out.

Like you, I still feel that Apple offers the best hardware and OS, but their lead is shrinking and I'm growing tired of the dumbing down of the UI. I was always brand loyal to Jobs. A few years after he left Apple, I got a NeXT box. It was amazing. It made the Mac of the 90s feel like a primitive DOS machine. And when he came back to Apple and brought NeXT tech with him, I came back to Apple. But he's gone now and Apple has been stretching that NeXT tech as best they can. But now they've lost most (all?) of the NeXT brain trust and new products, be they hardware or software, just don't have the same level of wow.

I'm not particularly optimistic about Apple's future, not pessimistic either, but they can't even get reliable cloud services working after trying for years. And they're going to build a car? Uh huh. Sure. For all the hype around the Apple Watch, in the end they delivered a very predictable, very boring, product whose only advantage is being tied into the Apple "ecosystem". Despite all the fanboys claiming it would have this or that awesome, exclusive, one of a kind didn't. It was like every other smart watch and fitness band out there, except for the (stupid) price. And now we have the new Apple TV. I'm not hating on it, because I think it's a step in the right direction, but what a safe and boring product. I don't really understand what they are trying to do with Apple TV and I don't see anyone outside of the fanboy market getting particularly excited about it.

Apple still offers the best solutions in my opinion, but, like you, I can see myself switching platforms one day if something better comes along. My brand loyalty died with Steve.
Rating: 5 Votes
52 months ago
Not much more to add I guess.... The App Store is basically worthless. No categories, nothing but a worthless search option, so I went through every character and letter just to see anything other than the "features". So my current aches:

1) App Store is miserable at best: GRADE: D
2) Simplex as an option for plex: GRADE: C+
3) CBS app wanting extra money??? WHAAAT? GRADE: F
4) user experience only marginally upgraded from years of AppleTv, no menu options for categories? Grade: C-
5) Siri is OKAY, and certainly an upgrade from old ATV, but much to be desired. GRADE: C
6) no browsers STILL, come on Apple?? GRADE: F
7) Just sitting over here waiting for the new Apple TV Service. "Disappointment" GRADE: C

Overall this currently feels SO incomplete, especially with the power under the hood.


On the upside.... There's room to grow

Is it vastly different than the older aTV GUI? No
But using it, for me, is a welcome change. I am one that enjoys just seeing things advance no matter how large or small.
I like it.

Now ... if I can just get the Plex app soon that will make it even more enjoyable.

Simplex works fine for me currently, since my servers in the house anyway.
Rating: 4 Votes
52 months ago
A major Apple flop. Wake me when OS version 4.0 is out, same goes with Apple Watch.
Rating: 4 Votes
52 months ago
I wish I could exclude iTunes results when searching movies/tv shows with Siri on new Apple TV...99.9% of the time I just want to find what I can stream from services that I'm already subscribed to and don't need to pay extra. I understand Apple wants to push their services but what they have to offer I'm just not interested in and it's ruining my experience. It is not the cheapest device on the market, I don't believe it's crazy what I wish for.
Rating: 3 Votes

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