Apple is used to dominating the market when it comes to phones, tablets and smartwatches. It's a different story for media streaming devices, where the Apple TV goes up against popular offerings from Roku, Google, and Amazon.
If you're an Apple fan, though, you'll love what the company has done with the latest iteration of Apple TV ($169.00 at Walmart) . A new remote adds voice control with Siri, a touchpad, and an accelerometer and gyroscope for games. And this fall, there will be even more to watch once the Apple TV+ streaming service arrives.
The standard HD Apple TV costs $149 for 32GB of storage space. The Apple TV 4K edition costs $179 for 32GB or $199 for 64GB. Let's see what you can do with it.
Turn Anything into a Remote
You'll need the remote that comes with the Apple TV during the setup process, but you're not stuck with it after that. Turn your iPhone into a remote with the Apple TV Remote app for iOS. (For Android users, there are some apps not made by Apple on Google Play.)
You can also use a traditional third-party remote. On your Apple TV, navigate to Settings > General > Remotes > Learn Remote, where you can map your remote to work with the device.
Check Remote Battery Levels
Is your Apple TV remote dead or just in need of new batteries? Go to Settings > Remotes and Devices to view how much charge is left. Click Remote to see the actual percentage number.
Search by Voice
The newest Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K come with a Siri remote, which lets you summon Apple's digital assistant and navigate the media streamer by voice. Hold down the Siri button and ask for title, genre, cast, and more. Release the button and Apple TV will search through available apps. Press and release the Siri button for recommendations.
Adjust Remote Sensitivity
The newest Apple TV remote uses a touchpad instead of directional buttons, but sometimes the surface can be a little too sensitive. If you find that it's hard to make the selections you want because you're always overshooting the apps, adjust how quickly it scrolls by going to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Touch Surface Tracking. The default setting is medium, but you can change it to fast or slow.
Did you miss something someone said onscreen? Tap the touch surface on the left to go back 10 seconds, or tap on the right if you need to get past a sad animal commercial 10 seconds at a time.
To quickly move through a video, pause and then swipe the trackpad in either direction to scrub back and forth. You can also tell Siri to "fast forward 10 minutes" or ask her "What did he just say?" and Apple TV will rewind for you.
Use the App Switcher
Newer Apple TV models have a lot in common with iOS devices, and one of the more useful features they share is the app switcher. Activate this feature by double-clicking on the Home button to view a collection of recently used apps. Use the trackpad to swipe between different apps, and flick one away to close it.
If your Apple TV home screen is too cluttered, you can move apps around, hide them, or tuck them into folders.
Click and hold an app until it jiggles, at which point you can move it around the home screen. Or press the Play/Pause button to hide a selected app from view.
The new Apple TV, meanwhile, supports folders, just like iOS devices do. Highlight the app you want to put into a folder and hold down the touch surface until it starts to jiggle. Then drag it on top of another app that you want in the same folder.
If you want to create a new folder based on the highlighted app, hold it down and press Play/Pause and choose an option. To rename a folder, tap it, and then type in a new title.
Apple TV has built-in AirPlay compatibility that allows you to send content from an iPad or iPhone to a connected television screen. But you can restrict who has access to your Apple TV. Navigate to Settings > AirPlay and choose between everyone, anyone connected to the same Wi-Fi network, or people who share control of your Home app. You can also require a password for someone to use AirPlay with your Apple TV.
On older devices, go to Settings > AirPlay > Security to set a verification code or a password for the device.
Set Parental Restrictions
Similarly, if you want to block the kids from certain content at home, you can turn on restrictions in Settings > General > Restrictions, and then set a four-digit code to enable.
Apple TV allows you to limit or block the ability to make purchases and access explicit content. Filter TV, movies, music, and podcasts based on language, ratings, or age. Newer models can also disable multiplayer gaming, screen recording, location services, and more.
Add More Accounts
If you share your Apple TV with others, you don't have to share their tastes. Set up separate accounts using individual Apple IDs. From the home screen, go to Settings > Accounts > iTunes and App Store. Select Add New Apple ID and enter an Apple ID user name and password. To add another account, sign out and repeat the process. You can switch between accounts by returning to Settings.
Share Movies, TV, Apps With Family Sharing
Family sharing gives family members easy access to purchased content, so multiple members of a family don't have to buy the same thing two or three times. On Apple TV, you can access shared movies, TV shows, and apps. Just go to Movies, TV Shows, or App Store. Select Purchased > Family Sharing, then select your family member to see their content.
Connect to Bluetooth
The Apple TV is compatible with Bluetooth, so you can connect it to headphones, keyboards, gaming controllers, and more. Navigate to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth (or Settings > General > Bluetooth on older devices) and put your accessory into pairing mode.
It's easy to lose track of your subscription services, but on Apple TV, you can monitor and cancel those that you've signed up for via Apple. Go to Settings > Accounts > Manage Subscriptions, select your active subscription, and cancel.
Watch Live TV
Streaming apps are great, but at times, nothing beats the live TV experience, especially when it comes to sports. Some US TV channel apps will let you watch live TV via Apple TV. That includes ABC News, CBS, CBS News, CNN Go, Cooking Channel, Disney Channel, Disney Jr, Disney XD, DIY, ESPN, Food Network, FXNOW, HGTV, TBS, TNT, and Travel Channel.
If you have a fourth-gen Apple TV, you can just hold down the mic icon on the remote and ask to watch a channel live. Siri will even understand if you search for a particular sporting event, such as asking "When are the Flyers playing?"
Make Yourself At Home
Your third- or fourth-gen Apple TV can serve as a smart house hub if you have HomeKit-enabled devices.
To set up Apple TV as the hub, you must use the same iCloud account for your Apple TV and the iOS devices you use with HomeKit. The process should happen automatically. If not, go to Apple TV and navigate to to Settings > Accounts > iCloud, look for HomeKit and make sure it is connected.
Apple also requires that you set up two-factor authentication on iCloud in order to ensure your devices are more secure. Open an iOS device and go to Settings > iCloud > Passwords & Security > Set Up Two-Factor Authentication. You also need to set up iCloud Keychain in Settings > iCloud > Keychain.
Give It the Boot
Have you tried turning it off and on again? To reboot Apple TV from the remote, hold down the Home and Menu buttons until the status light on the Apple TV flashes and then let go.