Apple TV is too app-focused

“Lately I’ve found myself gravitating away from using the Apple TV to watch content, and it’s due entirely to the device’s user interface: Apps get higher billing than they deserve,” Dave Hamilton writes for The Mac Observer.

“On the iPhone it makes sense that the user interface has all your applications front-and-center. There are so many different things you can do with an iPhone that it’s smart to start with the app that will get the job done,” Hamilton writes. “On the Apple TV, though, that makes a lot less sense. The vast majority of user interaction with the Apple TV is focused on consuming content. A distant second to that would be playing games. Even further down the line would be using utilities like speed tests and such.”

Hamilton writes, “Why, then, does my speed test app get equal billing to Netflix?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Something akin to the solution Hamilton describes reportedly has been in the works at Apple for quite some time now. Hopefully, it see the light of day sooner than later. Until then, give your most-used apps top billing:

Rearrange apps. Using the Touch surface on the Siri Remote, highlight an app, then press and hold until the app starts to jiggle. Swipe to move the app to a new location, then press the Touch surface again to save the new arrangement.

Pick your top-row apps. Move your favorite apps to the top row of the Home screen. You may get additional options and shortcuts when you highlight them.

Create folders for apps. Using the Touch surface on the Siri Remote, highlight an app, then press and hold until the app starts to jiggle. Drag the app over another app until a folder appears, then release. Press the Touch surface again to save the new arrangement. Note: When you first create a folder, Apple TV chooses a name for the folder based on its contents. To customize the folder name, open the folder, swipe up to the name, and use the onscreen keyboard or dictation to rename the folder.

Move apps into folders. Using the Touch surface on the Siri Remote, highlight an app, then press and hold until the app starts to jiggle. Drag the app over a folder, then release. Press the Touch surface again to save the new arrangement.

Is a TV guide Apple’s next big thing? – August 8, 2016
Apple and a TV guide alternative – August 5, 2016
Apple’s new TV plan is a TV guide – August 4, 2016
TiVo releases $49.99 over-the-air DVR for cord cutters – August 25, 2014
TiVo founders unveil $49 Qplay; aims to present unified interface for hundres of sources – February 25, 2014
Why doesn’t Apple just buy TiVo already? – August 17, 2012


      1. Agreed. Although I also agree with the article. The app model isn’t quite right. It was a good first pass. But what we developers really want is plug-ins. Let me write a game as an app, but have all the streaming video providers be served up in three container apps: TV, Movies, Music.

        (Giving us something like folders would suffice though.)

    1. Bought the new Amazon Fire Stick and love the Alexa built in to the remote. I can see how app congestion is a problem on these boxes/sticks using the TV as the interface. A big pro for Chromecast in this regard vs the Fire Stick since you use your tablet or smartphone as interface.

  1. I recall groaning last year when TC said that the future of TV was apps.
    It’s just so not.

    We bought an Apple TV and so far it has been simply a Netflix conduit. Games are clunky and lackluster and the UI is yet more tiles with daft names. I mean, come on Apple, is that what you think anyone wants to spend their time doing? Rearranging app icons and making folders with that fiddly little remote???
    Ah, I almost forgot, the remote…

    The Apple TV remote is a triumph of form over function.
    – It’s far too easy to turn on the TV by accident because the entire top half is a button.
    – It’s so small, thin and light that it gets lost in seconds in bedsheets. (It’d be awesome to have the audible finder feature like the Roku 4….)
    – None of the buttons are lit and the remote design is such that it is near impossible in the dark to quickly determine which way around you are holding it.
    – No, I do *not* want to fiddle with an app on my phone just to watch TV.

    We’re not old nor grumpy nor tech illiterate. We just feel we paid way too much for such an uninspired product, particularly since Steve said he’d “cracked it”.

  2. Too many people out there that want a toaster. One button does it all.
    God forbid they take an hour from playing games or watching TV to learn about a new tech gadget and set it up the way they want. Waaaaah!

    1. Ok but why?
      My TV is not a new tech gadget.
      Apple *were* experts at making the complex more simple.
      Now just watching TV has become a good deal more involved than before.
      How is that progress?
      It isn’t.
      And why the sarcasm?? O_o

      Hey. Funny thing just happened.
      I went into the bedroom to tidy just now, picked up the Apple TV remote to put it on the nightstand, the TV came on.
      Thanks Jony. That’s just great.

  3. I barely use my AppleTV anymore unless I want to watch something I own on ITunes.

    Netflix constantly runs slow after just a few episodes of a show or about two to three movies (when binge watching).

    There’s no Amazon Video, and all the other on demand conduits are mostly available through my cable provider.

    When I want to watch Amazon or Netflix I don’t even have to change video source or grab a remote to use my Xbox, which plays both flawlessly. I probably wouldn’t even have AppleTV anymore if I didn’t have hundreds of movies on iTunes.

  4. Exactly… I just want to stream TV and couldn’t give a hoot about apps at all… I just snagged a second ATV3 off of eBay for that reason.

    There are other alternatives if Apple tries to ram apps down our throats… Enough already – keep it it simple.

    Glad to see a revolt brewing.

    1. I too am very glad to see that most people here think that Apple TV is a profoundly poor product. I was suckered into buying Apple TV 4 and can’t believe what a miserable, thoughtless product it is. Apple clearly had no interest in making this device an industry leading set top box. It’s just a design by committee hack job, incapable of leading anything.

      I am very very pleased to see the MDN readership crap all over Apple TV.

  5. Yup, there are misfires galore on this thing, especially the crappy remote. In addition to grievances already listed, it is way to easy to mistake the siri (which is mostly useless on this device) button for the playback button. None of the promise of the original keynote for this thing was realized. At all.

  6. Apple would be wise to move away from an app-centric world for Apple TV; it is already doing a slow move on the iPhone with Siri, Notifications, and sharing sheets.

    Ideally, Apple TV UX needs to solve two problems: discovery of content– which it can do by some sort of Genius recommendation / social media mechanism + search– and allowing you to access your favorites (be they one off or subscriptions). Apps are not a natural way to find content, other than games.

  7. I have Apple TV, here’s a list of what’s good and bad:

    #1 became goto device thanks to Siri making everything faster from “advance 20 seconds” to get to next pitch on MLB, to “search Youtube for ‘how to make pickles'”. You say it, you’re there.
    #2 Voice search allows you to whisper. It’s truly amazing, but it works, your family can sleep while you whisper “advance 2 minutes” to get thru commercials.
    #3 Everything on cable is now “Tivo’d”. So long as you have a cable provider, you can now watch your local team a short time after the game and watch the full game. Just did this with NBA basketball bc i missed the 7pm game, so i watched from 10pm to midnight. simply awesome.
    #4 The apps are awesome, everyone on this board is a bunch of hillbilly whiners. I use everything from ESPN to Weather Channel to Netflix and Pandora on it. A TON. You should all be happy that Apple is partnering with the cable channels to put literally everything on the apple tv, so long as you have a cable subscription. Is this ideal? no. a la carte subscriptions for everything would be ideal, but this roadblock isn’t apple’s fault, if anything they are bringing down those barriers (see HBO, Showtime, Hulu etc….). It really comes down to sports, and ALL FOUR major sports have their apps on the Apple TV. If you don’t like the fact that the NBA won’t show you’re local blacked out game for 4 days, whine to the NBA– not Apple’s fault the NBA hates making money.

    The Bad:
    #1 remote gets lost all the time when you have a 1 year old, or if you like to fall asleep to tv (it’s usually in the couch).
    #2 many times you hold the remote backwards, it’s too similar in both directions. note this does not matter for inputting signals, bc the signals go all directions out of the remote, but it sometimes makes you press the wrong side of the remote which isn’t a button, and then you turn it around. It’s a 5 second error, but annoying.
    #3 The remote for games isn’t ideal, it’s just workable. Apple fixed this by allowing 3rd party remotes for gaming.
    #4 the games are weak, but still fun. Apple really needs to step up and encourage games to be made with the watch and iphone in your hands. you could make some seriously cool wii-like sports apps and allow customer to save money not having to buy remotes (like wii) simply by allowing their other products (all with accelerometers etc…) to be the remotes.
    #5 Amazon Prime shows suck, but if you like them you can’t watch on Apple TV at the moment. Same goes for their cruddy music service.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.