Six ways to improve the Apple TV’s user interface

“With the recent proliferation of new channels on the Apple TV, Cupertino’s set-top box has gone from being a simple way to consume online content to offering an embarrassment of riches,” Dan Moren and Jonathan Seff write for Macworld.

“More than 25 streaming content sources are available on the device, and if riding herd on them isn’t yet as daunting as scrolling through the channel guide on your cable box, it’s approaching that level of complexity,” Moren and Seff write. “So it’s time for Apple, the company vaunted for its elegance and adroit handling of interfaces, to rethink the way users interact with its living room device—especially if the company hopes to make the living room its next major battleground.”

Moren and Seff write, “Here are half a dozen steps Apple could take to improve the way we browse and watch content from the comfort of our couches.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Well, Jobs said it was a hobby. It hasn’t had the kind of attention seen with iDevices and the Mac OS. With competitors coming out with competing products, Apple’s hand may be forced to address its shortcomings. Apple needs to focus its attention on iTV at the same level it has devoted to its other products.

    I love my iTV, but its interface leaves much to be desired. It has that mashed together feel to it. Integrate SIRI with the device so I can controll and do searches via voice through my iPhone or iPad to integrate with it for starters.

    Apple needs to take this product more seriously and give it the finesse seen in its other products. Of course, Apple may have something up its sleeve that won’t be shown until they’re ready. An Apple TV with built in iTV and/or gesture and voice command could already be in the works. Time will tell, I sure hope so.

  2. The interface is getting a little silly. I understand you can move icons around and hide the ones you don’t need, but the hiding option isn’t exactly straightforward, being buried in the settings. I think it’s under “parental controls” which isn’t the first place you’d look.


    1. Yeah they need to move that. I find the Roku 3 meets my needs better than Apple TV. One of the few Apple products I have returned. Especially since Airplay of Amazon Prime basically doesn’t work.

  3. Good article with reasonable and well-considered recommendations for evolving the AppleTV user interface. I like the idea of a content authorization “keychain” approach. Just enter the data once for each subscription or service.

  4. You can rearrange the icons on AppleTV and move the ones you don’t watch down to the bottom.

    it’s all about the genius queue… how about simply a favorites button and genius across channels to suggest like programming based on views and faves. tell siri your favorite teams, the cities you want to follow, your favorite chefs, fashion designers, technology or business field, etc. you would like to follow and it builds a viewing schedule for you. What the hell else do you think Steve meant when he said he finally cracked TV to walter?

    He told me through the ether that he cracked channels…
    you are your own channel… that means the underlying TV distribution/delivery business is going to CRACK. They are going to need some Okeefe’s Working hands to fix the cracks.

  5. Apple should realize that many of us have extensive iTunes libraries, prefer high-def content from blu-ray, and hate the mess of subscription management, passwords, registration, etc. The problem with ATV is that it doesn’t act even as well as iTunes on a Mac, which itself needs improvement too. For one, iTunes music genres are an absolute mess.

    It is vastly easier to search content & manage playlists in front of a Mac than anywhere else — although with iTunes bloat intelligent searching isn’t as intuitive as it should be. In contrast, ATV is just another overly-constrained set top box that serves up channels and pushes Apple services. ATV doesn’t play seamlessly with iTunes, it doesn’t do apps of any kind, and and it doesn’t provide a complete non-subscription/registration a-la-carte viewing experience.

    In the ideal world, ATV would allow you to do intelligent searches for what you want — preferably similar but much more intuitively than the search/filters in iTunes works today. Then you could either select media from your library, or purchase the file to permanently add to your library, or rent the file for a reasonable time, or pay ONE subscription fee to rent a certain amount of media FROM ANY PUBLISHER/STUDIO.

    Throwing up dozens of channels is an antiquated distribution model highly unlike iTunes, which has already proven itself the best a-la-carte online distribution model.

    Why doesn’t Apple do this? The answer is obvious: Apple has no leverage over media creators because traditional channel distribution via subscription will always extort more money from consumers than an a-la-carte store. So Apple TV continues to use the channel model, only offering time-shifting (i.e., “on-demand”) for more user convenience, but now every cable TV monopoly offers “on-demand” content too.

      1. True. What incentive do they have not to charge for it? When you control regional monopolies, there is no reason to give anything away. In fact, the opposite is true: with monopoly power comes the ability to force consumers to buy bundles filled with stuff they don’t want, nor could even use if they had houses full of television addicts.

  6. The writer of the article has some good ideas. But there is more that Apple can do with the ATV that will take the #1 spot from Roku and take some air out of the Game Systems in the process. They need to release a SDK for the ATV if they haven’t already secretly. If it is out under raps the developers needs to get on the ball. They can make games like Real Racing 2 that you can AirPlay it on the ATV and use your iDevice as a game controler.

  7. How about letting me redeem a damned iTunes gift card directly on my Apple TV for starters? The fact I can do this via any other Apple device, but not Apple TV, is ridiculous.

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