Entertainment iPhone and iPad Mac

Still Unsure If You Need an Apple TV? Here’s What It Can Do

Sandy Writtenhouse 07-04-2016

So you have a few dollars in your pocket and are still considering buying an Apple TV Apple TV 2015 Review With competition from Google's Chromecast and Amazon’s FireTV reaching fever pitch, can Cupertino still hold its own in the battle for the space under your TV? Read More . The problem is that you are unsure if you will use it enough, or if it’s worth the money you’re willing to spend.


If you are still on the fence about what seems like yet another expensive Apple purchase Why Apple Will Never Release a Cheap iPhone Apple’s decision to limit their product line to solely premium devices is a deliberate decision – but what does this mean for consumers? And how can you get a cheap iPhone? Read More , here’s our ultimate list of what you can do with an Apple TV so you can decide for yourself.

Get Your Game On

The ability to play games on your Apple TV Did You Know You Can Play Games On Your Apple TV? It's time to stop craning your neck over your iPad or iPhone and use mirroring to enjoy iOS games on your Apple TV instead. Read More turns it into somewhat of a console. Puzzle games such as Lumino City, Broken Age, and Back to Bed look spectacular. For sports fans, Real Racing 3, NBA 2K16 TV Edition, and Snowboard Party 2 let you feel like you are right in it.


Then when it is time to get the party started, games such as Song Party Pop, Emoji Party, and Just Dance Now let you have some fun with family on game night or friends on the weekend. Plus, your friends can use their iPhone or iPad as a game controller, so there is no need to worry about another Siri Remote.

Just don’t expect your Apple TV to be able to release a current (or even last) generation console — the hardware isn’t there, and nor are the fans.


Go Get the Apps

The number of apps available for tvOS is growing all the time. The recent Apple “Let us loop you in” media event on March 21, 2016 informed us that there are currently 5,000 available. But what types of apps could you use on a television?


You might be surprised at just what you’ll find in the App Store, with new downloads popping up all the time:

  • Stay in the know with news: ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, CNNgo, Bloomberg TV
  • Keep up on sports: NBA, NFL, NHL, Watch ESPN, World Surf League
  • Relax with sights and sounds: Nature Soundscapes, Relaxing Ocean, Fireplace HD+, Calm Radio
  • Stay fit and work out: Yoga Studio, 7 Minute Workout, DailyBurn, Streaks Workout
  • Get your weather fix: The Weather Channel, Weather Live, AccuWeather, CARROT Weather

The list goes on, of course, but this is just a taste of some of the apps you might find useful.


Be Entertained

One of the more obvious uses for Apple TV is the ability to watch your favorite television shows and movies Apple TV vs. Chromecast: Which Streaming Solution Is Best For You? You know you want either an Apple TV or a Chromecast. But which is best for you? We compare Apple TV versus Chromecast to find out. Read More with apps like Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, and Showtime. If you subscribe to one of these services, then you can take advantage of it on your Apple TV. You can also watch movies and TV shows you have purchased on iTunes.


Check out your favorite Food Network, MTV, or Comedy Central shows in your own time. Plenty of other channels are also available, like Lifetime, History, Disney Channel, Nick, and WWE. From high fashion to music videos to cooking shows to family and kids’ television, there is something for every lifestyle.

One of the best things about tvOS over Apple’s old way of doing things is the ability to decide just which services you want to have access to. It’s much easier and more compelling for content producers to get their content on an Apple TV now, so the range of content available has skyrocketed.


Relive Your Moments

By connecting your Apple ID, you can peruse your photos and videos on the big screen. Imagine you and your newlywed spouse cuddled up on the couch enjoying videos taken at your wedding reception. Or, maybe you gather with faraway family who are visiting to relive moments they missed through your photos.


It might sound like the modern equivalent of the dreaded holiday snaps slideshow, but it’s a handy feature to have on your TV. You can also set shared albums or your iCloud photo stream as your screensaver too.

Take Advantage of AirPlay

Whether you own a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, each of these can output video and audio to your Apple TV via AirPlay. So, if you want your computer display, current game, or email app up on the big screen, take advantage of AirPlay Mirroring. It’s perfect for office use with a Keynote presentation, or around the home if you suddenly need to share a web page with a group of people.



For business or education, you can use the Conference Room Display. This allows others in the room to connect their AirPlay device to the same Apple TV. A custom message can be inserted and a background can also be used when logged into a specific iCloud account. This mode is handy for business meetings and classroom presentations where multiple participants get involved.


When at home, you can send your iPhone or iPad display to the Apple TV with AirPlay Mirroring. Want to see your Mac’s display on a bigger screen? Ready to play a game that is not available for Apple TV yet? Want to share a Facebook post, email, or piece of news with the family? There are even some pass-and-play iOS games (Worms 3 anyone?) that make great use of AirPlay and a single device to entertain a whole room full of people.

AirPlay works just as well as it always has, and it’s easy to use simply by swiping up to reveal Control Center and tapping the AirPlay button.

Ask Siri, Your Digital Assistant

Siri has become a mainstay of the iPhone and iPad, and now Apple’s digital assistant is available to help on Apple TV. Siri is talented enough to understand a number of commands that can help you get things done quicker, simply by holding a button on your remote and speaking.


Here are just a few examples:

  • Basics: ask for the time, current weather, sports scores, or stock prices.
  • Apps and games: ask to open an app or game by saying the name.
  • Playback: ask to pause, stop, rewind, or forward videos, shows, and movies.
  • App Store: ask to find a specific app while searching the store.
  • General search: ask for a song or artist in music or a title or genre for movies and TV.

You can also ask for random details on everything from history, to sports, to entertainment. If Siri can find it, she will show it to you.


You can access Siri by holding down on the microphone button on your Apple TV remote. Then, just ask for what you want. With the recent update to tvOS 9.2, additional features have been added and you can now enter your username and password or perform a search on the App Store, just by dictating what you need using Siri.

Other Awesome Features

These are arguably Apple’s main selling points for its revised fourth generation Apple TV, but there are plenty of other perks that accompany the little black box below your TV:


Still Undecided?

Hopefully knowing the power, capabilities, and features of the Apple TV Read Reviews of the New Apple TV, Google Balloons Around the World... [Digest] Verdicts on the new Apple TV, Google forms a ring around the world, Facebook culls Candy Crush Saga invites, Snapchat speeds up, slows down, and rewinds your videos, and watching iPhones drown is oddly satisfying. Read More will help you decide if it is for you. Apple TV can be purchased from the Apple Store at $149 for the 32GB or $199 for the 64GB device. Or, you might check out retailers such as Walmart or Staples, which sometimes offer better prices 5 Ways to Save Money When Buying a MacBook Looking to get a MacBook for cheap? Here are some useful tips for saving the most money when you buy a Mac laptop. Read More .

So, what do you say? Is it time to make that purchase or not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related topics: Apple TV, Media Streaming, tvOS.

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  1. Bryan Wolfe
    July 29, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Apple TV has a long way to go. However, definitely an improvement over past versions. If they had Amazon, much better than Roku.

  2. Bryan Wolfe
    April 29, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    I really love my current-generation Apple TV. However, it still has a long way to go. Apple needs to announce its own video streaming service.

  3. GB
    April 8, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    NO Amazon app!!

    • Bracy
      April 11, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      I think that's only because Amazon hasn't decided to write one for it. The platform is allowing anyone to develop apps for it now.

  4. Ctownbos
    April 8, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Love appletv but agree with all the crap liberal news apps.

  5. Helen
    April 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Thanks Tom that was kind of where my head was going.

  6. Allen
    April 8, 2016 at 3:17 am

    Firestick with Kodi trumps them all.

  7. Anonymous
    April 7, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Costs more for worse-performing hardware compared to a FireTV.
    No support for sideloading apps outside those specifically designed for the AppleTV and extremely poor support for local content unless you want to send it over via Airplay or feel like setting up Plex/Emby. Limited file format support. No dedicated audio connector. 100Mbit ethernet only (granted, that's better than the Nexus Player). No capability to expand storage.

    Digital media is more or less solely and permanently associated with Apple's digital stores. Hope you weren't so foolish as to purchase any media anywhere else.
    Can kinda-sorta game, but it doesn't have support for a controller in the way that the Shield set top box or FireTV might.

    This is a $150 box that only makes sense if everything you own already has an Apple Logo on it. The Roku, Fire TV or Shield X1 are all much more generally appealing options.

    • Bracy
      April 11, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      I'm guessing you don't have one as some of the information you presented isn't correct. I have a full game controller that works amazing on some of the racing games they have I use the Steel Series Nimbus Gamepad controller. It has about 40 hours of battery life and is very comfortable of long sessions. I'm not a huge gamer, but I'm very pleased with the games it has. Most of my serious gaming (as little as that is) is done on a PC or a PS3/PS4 however.

      Besides the Roku, which I have and love too, I'm not sure about the other TV apps in regards to external keyboards, but you can use any Bluetooth keyboard with the AppleTV.

      Also you can, if you're a little more tech-savvy, watch any movies on it. I have hundreds of DVDs and Blu-Ray movies that I've ripped to my computer on an external drive. I load those up into iTunes and can watch them all. Same goes for all my music from other sources, as long as they don't have DRM in them. All my music is purchased outside of Apple, but use iTunes Match which gives me up to 125,000 of my own songs available in the cloud for streaming.

      Also the entire platform is designed for streaming. It is done so well in that regards, that it is almost completely pointless to purchase anything larger than the 32GB version. All apps will manage their memory correctly. This can be a problem if you have slow internet however, so keep that in mind. I also run the Apple Server app's, cache feature on a small Mac mini I have, which caches all resources that are pulled from Apple. So any of those games that needs large graphics and resources are quickly available to me, if I haven't played them in a while and they (the resources) have been cleaned off the AppleTV.

      As little background so you can determine how much credibility you'd like to give my comments: I'm a long time Windows and Linux user, which has recently ALSO adopted Apple for my entertainment needs. I have Google Chromecast, Roku, Samsung SmartTV with it's apps and the AppleTV. I've been working with IT servers and technology for over 26 years and use what works for me. Apple is best only when it's used with many other of their technologies, otherwise, it's just a good product that does good things in certain scenarios.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Anonymous
        April 11, 2016 at 6:01 pm

        I have AppleTV boxes in my office. We use them as Airplay receivers since the damned things won't talk to the Miracast receivers everything else is capable of using.

        Apple distinctly does not offer an official game controller for them, which was the basis for my comment regarding controllers.

        With regard to hardware and performance, the current Apple device is still not capable of decoding 4k video. I recognize that 4k video is exotic, but phones are certainly capable of creating 4k videos and I do have access to a number of 4k displays. The AppleTV might be sufficiently well suited for playback of 1080p video, but considering that it costs 50% more than Amazon or Roku boxes, it should be as capable. It isn't.

        Sideloading? Apple calls the current generation operating system "tvOS" to distinguish it from iOS, the main branch of its mobile operating system family. There are absolutely cases where a user might want to load a mainstream iOS app on an AppleTV device, only to be disallowed from doing so by Apple restrictions. In my workplace for example, we have in the past used AppleTV boxes as a way to get up-to-date iOS installations for people who don't otherwise have access to current-generation iOS. It's kinda-sorta possible to add iOS software to a tvOS box, but only by direct USB connection to an OSX machine. That's not what I'd call open access.

        I did acknowledge that it's possible to directly access media, but doing so requires either hardware or software from outside Apple's ecosystem. You need something like Kodi (one of the major use cases for sideloading on an AppleTV), Plex, Emby or some other app that can talk to a DLNA server (another standard Apple ignores for no particularly good reason). You can also screencast media, if you feel like tying up an extra device. Something you absolutely can't do is plug in a storage device and just play a file.

        This is not a good streaming box. It's expensive compared to alternatives and it needs help to rise to the level of functionality found in 2014-era products from its competitors.

  8. TomSJr
    April 7, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    What a time waster and the news channels? ALL LIBERAL, so I doubt I would ever buy this for ANY REASON. Roku is perfect for me!