What to expect from Apple's new TV app?

31. October 2016

On October 27th, Apple held the latest keynote of this year. Besides introducing the update to their flagship line of laptops, MacBook Pro, with brand new Touch Bar and controversial prices, they have introduced the new TV app.

New TV app at Apple's keynote, October 2016

The so-called “TV” app promises a unified experience for discovering and accessing TV shows and movies from the majority of video streaming apps on Apple TV, iPhone & iPad. The TV app should provide users with the interface where they can not only access all their favorite TV shows and movies altogether but also discover new content to watch within over 1,600 apps from video content providers on Apple TV today.

Eddy Cue, Apple's SVP of Internet Software and Services, commented later that day: "Using apps on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad has become the primary way for so many of us to watch television. The TV app shows you what to watch next and easily discover TV shows and movies from many apps in a single place."

Mockup of the new TV app for Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad

Key features of the TV app

Watch Now

Watch Now is a category where viewers will see their collection of available shows and movies from iTunes and available apps. From Watch Now, viewers can then go to Up Next or Recommended to choose what to watch;

Up Next

Users can enjoy the shows and movies they are currently watching, including recent iTunes rentals and purchases – all presented in the order they are most likely to watch first. For example, when viewers finish an episode, the next one will automatically appear as the first one of the Up Next queue. At any time, users can simply use Siri to continue watching a show and immediately continue where they left off;


Viewers can explore a tremendous selection of curated and trending shows and movies, including collections handpicked by Apple's curators, and dedicated categories and genres such as sci-fi, comedy, and kids;


Viewers can access their entire collection of iTunes movies and TV shows they have rented or purchased;


When looking for something new, viewers can check out the Store to discover a new content across different video services that they haven‘t yet downloaded or aren‘t yet subscribed to, along with iTunes‘ latest releases.

Main screen of Apple's new TV app

Catching-up with the competitors?

Well, one of Apple’s main competitors within streaming devices, Roku, has already targeted this issue and offers a personalized “My Feed” section where viewers can track their favorite shows and movies, and discover new releases. It also offers a universal search that helps viewers find the program in question across all the Roku channels.

My Feed interface on Roku

Meanwhile, Amazon’s forthcoming new interface for its Fire TV products will include rows with viewers’ personalized video recommendations on Fire TV home screen, pulled in from services like Netflix, HBO and much more content providers in the upcoming months.

New interface of Amazon Fire TV

The benefits of the TV app

One of the major benefits of the TV app is definitely the availability for Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad so it always stays in sync within all of these. Viewers will be able to start watching on one device and continue on another easier than before.

In addition to the new TV app, customers in the US will have a simplified way of enjoying their pay-TV video apps by using single sign-on. However, this applies only to subscribers to DIRECTV, DISH Network and several more providers as they will just sign in once on Apple TV, iPhone or iPad to enjoy immediate access to apps that are part of their subscription.

No sign of Netflix & Amazon Video

There are a few catches about the new TV app. First of all, it will not include Netflix and Amazon Video, two of the most popular subscription video streaming services. It is kind of obvious regarding Amazon Video since Amazon hasn’t built an app for Apple TV yet, but there is not much of an excuse for leaving out Netflix. 

So if the new TV app is meant to show viewers all of their favorite streaming shows, they aren‘t going to see a single thing from Netflix or Amazon on there.


The app will become available in December as a free software update for Apple TV (4th generation), iPhone and iPad customers. Other regions probably coming soon after that, but neither the dates nor the features in specific regions/languages have been disclosed yet.


It is definitely a good effort from Apple to set up a truly unified & personalised experience for watching TV, but there is still several obstacles that will keep viewers from using just this single app when watching video content on their Apple TV. Moreover, we think that the TV app will be more or less useless outside of the US. At least for now.

You can watch the relevant part of the keynote here.

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