Apps on your TV? What larks! But you’ll still use this selection when the novelty wears off
When he unveiled a new generation Apple TV in 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook optimistically claimed that “the future of television lies in apps”. That’s fine – but that was the TV presence back then, if you owned a smart TV or a competing telly. But Apple has always been different. His smartphones and tablets have far more really good apps than competing systems. Our hope was Apple’s future because the TV would have at least some of the things we wanted to use.
As it turns out, there is a ton of junk browsing the Apple TV App Store even if you’re rocking the latest Apple TV 4K, and not that many apps you’ll want to use for a long time. But there are exceptions – and the apps we still use (and love) are listed here in this guide to the best Apple TV apps. Besides games – we have an accompanying function for that: The best games for the Apple TV.
(Note: All apps are universal, which means they will also be installed on your Apple mobile devices unless otherwise noted.)
2nd breathing zone (£ 2.99)
Do you know the breath app on your Apple Watch? This does the same for your Apple TV, just in large screen mode so that it takes up your entire field of view. Just the thing if you want to relax after an exciting season finale. There are many options too, from colors to breath types.
Check out the breathing zone in the App Store preview
3. Brian Eno: Reflection (£ 29.99)
“Thirty pounds!” You could yell while choking on your drink and following in a felicitous expletive. But Reflection is special – a version of Brian Eno’s latest album that never stops remixing itself, and that changes and changes depending on the time of day and even the season. You can also get a developing abstract eno painting on TV that will turn your goggle box into a piece of living art.
Brian Eno: Preview Reflection on the App Store
4. CARROT Weather (£ 3.99, Apple TV only)
Unlike its iPhone counterpart, CARROT adds a lot of bells and whistles for Apple TV forecasts and maps. The malicious AI distributes twisted animations along with precipitation forecasts. Multiple locations can be saved and secret locations are waiting to be discovered; But whatever you do, don’t bump into the CARROT eye sensor!
Check out CARROT Weather in the App Store preview
Weather clock: forecast bar
5. Disney + (free)
Given the speed at which Disney is buying up real estate, it is certainly only a matter of time before Disney + becomes the only streaming television service in existence. Until then, it’s great to see Marvel, Disney, and a plethora of other shows on Star. There’s also a nifty “watch with buddies” feature.
Preview Disney + on the App Store
6.Earthlapse 4K (£ 1.99, Apple TV only)
There is something magical about seeing the earth from above, and Earthlapse offers breathtaking time-lapse footage. There are 18 carefully mastered views of the ISS to choose from, and you can romp around with speed, color filters, and the soundtrack as you stare at our little blue planet soaring through space.
Preview Earthlapse 4K in the App Store
7. Infuse (£ free or sub)
If your digital video collection is mostly knocked around on hard drives or scattered through cloud services, Infuse takes care of all of that. Whether you get the free or paid version, you can stream on your Apple TV and files on the fly when you need it re-encode. Artwork, catalog sorting and metadata are done automatically and ensure a wonderful surfing experience. Pro users also get trakt.tv support, which synchronizes the display progress on all devices.
View Infuse in the App Store preview
8. iTunes Movie Trailer (£ free)
This app provides an efficient and easy-to-use way to delight your eyes with upcoming movies. Click on a cover picture and you will get an overview of the respective strip as well as access to current trailers. Interesting films can be hidden in a favorites list. Downloading it is a must unless you hate movies (in which case, buying an Apple TV was an odd decision on your part).
Check out iTunes movie trailers in the App Store Preview
9. Kitchen stories (£ free)
Kitchen Stories is one of our favorite cooking apps, and it’s packed with great photos and tons of videos. Unsurprisingly, Apple TV focuses on the latter, with a selection of videos on recipes and skills. If you’ve always wanted to know how to make a squid, make a hearty beef stew, or chop chocolate (instead of just eating it), this is the app for you.
Preview Kitchen Stories in the App Store
10. Letterboxd (free)
A social networking app on Apple TV may seem strange to you, but Letterboxd is all about TV – or more precisely, movies on TV. You log and rate favorites, flag movies you want to see, read trailers, and optionally complain about how unfair it is that new Star Wars flicks are not the same as the ones you’ve had on your head since 1983.
Show letterboxd in the App Store preview
Obsessed with daylight? A secret vampire who doesn’t leave until after dark? Then get Lumy on your TV so you can keep track of all the relevant data. There’s even a picture frame mode on Apple TV that transforms the course of the sun and moon into a minimal piece of virtual art.
Preview Lumy in the App Store
12. MeteoEarth (£ free)
CARROT Weather is the best Apple TV weather app, but it doesn’t make maps – which is just as good for MeteoEarth, which is essentially a big map. You whirl around the earth, cooing in twinkling lights in places where the sun has faded, and adding overlays for temperature and rainfall before you notice the latter always seems to be spreading a massive bruise across the UK. Bah.
See a preview of MeteoEarth in the App Store
13. Netflix (£ free)
With Netflix infiltrating pretty much anything with a screen, we’re half-surprised that it doesn’t appear on our Apple Watch – or the thermostat of our living room. The Apple TV version is what you’d expect: a viable, reliable way to immerse yourself in loads of great TV shows like Stranger Things – before suddenly realizing you haven’t moved from the sofa in three days.
Preview Netflix in the App Store
14.Night sky (£ free)
If you’re a fan of stargazing but don’t go outside, there is always an astronomy app on your phone to look up at the virtual sky. But if even that is too much of a hassle, launch Night Sky on your Apple TV. You can zip constellations with the Siri Remote. For the more dedicated fans, there’s a Tonight Tour that provides information on what’s going to appear in the sky – and when.
Preview the night sky in the App Store
15. PLEX (£ free + IAP)
While Infuse is on our list, it would be wrong to leave out another video favorite, PLEX. The app appeared unofficially on second generation jailbroken Apple TVs, but that’s the real deal. Although PLEX was built for Apple TV in just five weeks, it started out as a top-notch app for organizing, streaming, and finding new things to watch. it’s been great ever since.
Preview PLEX in the App Store
16.Radio Receiver (£ 3.99)
The ‘Radio’ app on the old Apple TV was awful, so we’re relieved to find radio receivers. It all looks very sleek and chic – dare we say it, a little Apple-like. You can search for channels, add them to your favorites, and then dance around the living room like a madman. The app also supports podcasts if you want Infinite Monkey Cage or Adam Buxton to boom off your TV.
Preview radio receivers in the App Store
17. Solar Walk 2 (£ 2.99)
On iOS, Solar Walk 2 is a great educational tool for exploring the solar system. On Apple TV, it’s simplified by selecting a planet or moon from a menu and then playing around with Siri Remote to rotate it. But Saturn and Co. can still be cracked. Open like eggs to peer inside and head to infographics to discover how insignificant the earth is compared to the giants of the solar system.
Preview Solar Walk 2 in the App Store
18. Ookla speed test (£ free)
If you work for an ISP, you might be grinding your teeth when you see this entry, and yes, we know speed test apps are not entirely accurate. However, if your Apple TV is having trouble streaming your favorite shows, Ookla’s Speedtest will at least give an indication of whether or not your broadband is down. Of course, it is very easy to use: Let it rip and within a minute you will receive up-to-date estimates of ping, download and upload speeds.
View Speediest by Ookla in the App Store preview
19. Streaks workout (£ 3.99)
The ethos behind the Streaks apps is habit building and simplicity. With Streaks Workout, all you need is your Apple TV, a floor and at least some desire to get fit. You choose exercises you are happy with, how long you want to sweat, and then get started. The app tracks your streaks and encourages you to keep burning excess fat that “somehow” arose from spending too much time parking less strenuous things in front of your Apple TV.
Preview streaks training in the App Store
20. TV Cards (£ 1.99)
The idea of using cards on TV probably seems a bit strange. After all, you are unlikely to have your flat screen TV and Apple TV while you zoom in on the M1, a massive extension cord that extends from your car. But this is a decent app to explore, not least if you’re using Apple’s flyover feature, which gives you a 3D view of famous landmarks – even if they sometimes look like a 15-year-old PC game has melted a little.
View TV cards in the App Store preview
21. TED (free)
If you’ve seen an empty television on television until your brain threatens to choke your windpipe, TED should be a watch to put an end to it all. You can find thousands of free videos where smart people talk about interesting things. You can search by type, search for something specific, and save favorites to later impress your friends who thought you just saw The Big Bang Theory on a loop.
View TED in the App Store preview
22. White noise (99p)
If you can’t relax without background noise, but don’t want it to be permanently angry “landahners” in EastEnders or whatever Spotify is on, get White Noise on your TV. You choose from audio loops, including gentle beach waves, a ticking grandfather clock, and, uh, a vacuum cleaner. Probably only clean the house when the last thing is your thing.
Preview white noise in the App Store