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This chapter is from the book

Watching Apple TV

Apple was one of the first companies to offer a streaming media player, in the form of its Apple TV device. Apple TV is a smallish set-top box that connects to your TV via HDMI. It works pretty much like competing streaming media players, but it has a definite Apple feel to it.

Some of this Apple feel is seen in the unit’s remote control, which lets you operate the unit by pressing physical buttons or issuing voice commands. The voice control is provided via Apple’s Siri intelligent assistant.

Another unique feature of Apple TV is the way it interfaces with other Apple products. You can stream photos, music, or videos you’ve stored on your Apple iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer to your Apple TV using Apple’s Airplay functionality. It’s easy.

Apple TV is also unique in offering access to the iTunes Store. This makes it easy to rent or purchase movies for streaming that aren’t available from other streaming services.

Comparing Apple TV Models

As of early 2019, Apple offers two Apple TV models, both set-top boxes. The basic Apple TV box is 1080p HD and offers both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity; it sells for $149 USD. The higher-priced Apple TV 4K unit adds 4K Ultra HD, HDR, and Dolby Atmos sound for $179 USD. There’s also a version of the 4K unit with additional built-in storage; this sells for $199 USD.

These prices make Apple TV the most expensive streaming media players out there. But if you have other Apple devices and want to share content among them all, the higher price might be worth it.

Table 6.2 details the differences between the two Apple TV units. Learn more at www.apple.com/tv/.

Table 6.2 Comparing Apple TV Models


Apple TV

Apple TV 4K

Voice-controlled remote with Siri



1080p HD



4K Ultra HD with HDR



Dolby Atmos sound



Built-in storage


32GB, 64GB




Ethernet connection



Price (USD)


$179 (32GB), $199 (64GB)

Using Apple TV

When you first connect and turn on your Apple TV box, it leads you through an on-screen setup process. This includes connecting the device to your existing Apple account, so it can share content with your other connected Apple devices.

The Apple TV remote differs a bit from the remotes from the other streaming players. Instead of physical buttons, the top part of the remote has a kind of touch pad. Swipe your finger up or down to scroll or move the onscreen focus up or down; swipe left or right to scroll or move the onscreen focus left or right. You also can press on the top, bottom, left, or right edge to move the focus in that direction. Press in the middle of the touch pad to make a selection; this is essentially the “enter” key.

The bottom part of the remote has physical buttons. The Menu button essentially functions as a “back” button to move to the previous screen. The TV button opens the TV app. (More on that later.) The Microphone button opens Siri for voice commands. The Play/Pause button does what you would expect; the + (up) and ” (down) buttons raise and lower the volume.

  1. common-01.jpg Featured programming appears at the top of the home screen. The first row of tiles beneath that is called your Top Shelf, five tiles for Apple TV’s most-used features. From left to right you find tiles for TV, the App Store (to install new apps for additional services), Movies for purchase in the iTunes Store, TV Shows for purchase in the iTunes Store, and Music from iTunes. Swipe the touchpad left or right to select a tile.

  2. common-02.jpg Scroll down to view your installed apps for streaming services. Select a tile to open that app/service.

  3. common-03.jpg Select the Settings tile to configure Apple TV settings.

  4. common-04.jpg Select the Search tile to search for content across your apps and in the App Store.

  5. common-05.jpg Select the App Store tile to search for and install apps for additional streaming services.

  6. common-06.jpg Select the TV tile to open the TV app.

  7. common-07.jpg The TV app consolidates content from across all the streaming apps you’ve installed. Select the Watch Now tab to view selected content by genre—Sports, News, TV Shows, Movies, and the like.

  8. common-08.jpg Scroll down to the Browse by Category section to view programming in selected categories—TV Shows, Movies, Kids, and Collections.

  9. common-09.jpg Within a category, scroll down to browse by genre. Select a genre to view related content.

  10. common-10.jpg You see all TV shows or movies within that genre. Select a tile to view that particular program or movie.

  11. common-11.jpg Apple TV shows what streaming services offer this particular movie or TV show. Select Open In to select your desired streaming service and begin playback.

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