Apple TV App Now Lists Titles from Other Streaming Apps

With the Apple TV’s newest OS update that includes the TV app, it appears that Apple is beginning to play well with others. Apple TV has typically been proprietary with media, always suggesting to buy or rent from the iTunes store rather than show you where you can find titles in other streaming apps.

The TV app changes all of that, allowing users to quickly find movies and TV shows to watch through recommendations and a watchlist (“Up Next”). Clicking on a title in the TV app plays the video in the streaming app where it is available. This means that what you want to watch on Hulu will be listed next to what you want to watch on NBC or other streaming services that have partnered with Apple. Plus, it is synced with other Apple Devices so you can continue watching on your iPhone or iPad.

You access the app via the TV icon button on the Apple TV remote that was previously used to return to the home screen. (You can choose whether you want it to open the TV app or the home screen in the the Settings menu.) The app aggregates popular titles from a number of services, including Hulu, NBC, CBS, The CW, MTV, History Channel, Food Network, A&E, AMC, Comedy Central, Tribeca Shortlist, Starz, HBO Now (not HBO Go), Showtime, Crunchyroll, Mubi, and more. Apple CEO Tim Cook described the app as a "unified TV experience that's one place to access all of your TV shows and movies, one place to discover great new content to watch.”

To make it easier to access the shows you want to watch, or to continue shows you have started watching, the app displays the titles at the top of the home menu along with a beefy selection of recommended shows. A Watch Now section displays a curated list of popular movies and TV shows for browsing. The main screen also has a list of genres or you can drill down to sub-genres in the Collections section, featuring Workplace Comedies, Travel Shows, and Music Documentaries.

Up Next is basically a watchlist of titles that you’ve added, pulled together in a single list and “presented in the order you are most likely to watch first.

While Netflix and HBO Go don’t automatically show up in the TV app, shows that are also available in iTunes do appear. While I couldn't add the Netflix original, Sense8 to my Up Next list, I was able to add House of Cards and choose to watch it via iTunes or Netflix. I chose Netflix. When I clicked on House of Cards in the TV app, it took me directly to the Netflix app. The same was true for HBO Go. While the Apple TV found HBO’s new show Divorce, I couldn’t add it to the TV app. On the other hand, the series Girls could be added because earlier seasons are available in iTunes.

Up Next is quite handy. When looking for a movie I wanted to watch in Hulu, I stumbled upon a title I’ve been wanting to see. I was able to add the movie to my Up Next list by simply clicking on it.

The Library tab includes all of your previous iTunes TV show and movie purchases. The Store tab makes it easy to find anything you want to buy or rent in iTunes without leaving the TV app. The Search tab shows trending TV shows and movies and displays the results of titles you are seeking.

During setup after the Apple TV update (or available in the settings menu) you have the opportunity to use a single sign-on for all apps that require authentications from your TV provider—Dish, DirecTV, and other cable and telecom partners. At this time a number of apps still require separate authentication on a web browser. The idea is that once you sign in with your TV provider, all subsequent apps can access it and not require a special login.

This update also makes Siri voice control more useful and responsive. If you know the movie or TV show title, you can say “Play (Title).” With Apple’s more open approach, the title will open in its “home” app. Saying “Play Homeland, for example, offered to start playback in Showtime Anytime instead of iTunes. Siri will also launch apps and find them in the app store if they are not on the Apple TV. When I said, “Launch Tribeca Shortlist,” Siri replied “You don’t have an app called Tribeca Shortlist but I found this in the App Store.” I clicked on the displayed icon to download it.

Siri can control playback in more apps too. Play, pause, fast forward, rewind, and fast forwarding or rewinding for a specified length of time—5-minutes, 20-minutes, etc.—is supported in most streaming apps. If you ask, “What did he just say?” Siri will rewind the video several seconds and show the closed captioning during playback. The closed captioning turns off when you reach the place where you originally asked for clarification.

When asked, Siri was also able to display a list of NFL games scheduled for the upcoming weekend with the channel information.

Many Siri commands are similar to those used for the iPhone and iPad. You can use Siri to display the weather, game scores, and more. Home control via Apple’s home kit makes it possible to unlock doors, turn on lights etc. using Siri on the Apple TV. When I’m ready to watch a movie, I can turn off the Philips Hue lights in my media room by simply asking Siri.

The new updates have moved the Apple TV to the top of my list of favorite streaming devices. If only Apple would add Amazon Instant Video, I’d disconnect some of my other devices.

Warrior24_7's picture

So what. Apple has a new S&V fanboy now because of an app? This is heresy! Praising something made by Apple and not called "Marantz" or android? Say it ain't so!

brenro's picture

Ever hear of 4K? You should look into it.

karenhhodes0086's picture