how to watch Apple tv

Apple

What is Apple TV and how does it work?

Soon you'll be streaming with joy.

 

John-Michael Bond

devices

Published Mar 27, 2019   Updated Mar 25, 2021, 1:56 pm CDT

Apple TV is one of the best premium streaming devices on the market. When money is no object, its clean and simple interface makes it as easy solution for users of all ages. It might take you a moment to learn its remote and menus, but once you get the basics, you’ll be streaming away.

We’re here to help you get a head start. Whether you’re new to streaming or an old-school Roku fan, here’s everything you need to know about how to use Apple TV.    

What is Apple TV?

It might surprise you to learn that Roku wasn’t the first mass-produced streaming device: Apple TV was. Launched in 2007, one year before Roku, the original Apple TV streamed movies and shows bought off the iTunes store from your computer.

Today Apple offers just two models of the Apple TV, an HD and a 4K model. This keeps things simple, though thanks to Apple’s premium pricing, it keeps things expensive.

However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great streaming player. Coming preloaded with over 100 of today’s best apps Apple TV comes ready out of the box. That includes favorites like Disney PlusNetflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube, and ESPN Plus .

Apple TV can also stream live TV on a wide range of services. It supports Philo, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, and Sling TV, so no matter what service meets your needs, Apple TV has you covered.

Apple TVs

How does Apple TV work?

Like all streaming media centers, Apple TV streams over your internet network. Simply connect the device to your TV through its HDMI port and the device will automatically walk you through its setup process.

Once you’ve finished set-up, it’s time to log into your favorite apps. Apple TV comes pre-loaded with day’s major services like Disney PlusNetflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Max . There’s a good chance your favorite service is already there.

Users control the Apple TV with a special touch/voice remote. Navigation is controlled by swiping on the touch pad on the top of the remote. There’s also voice search available by pressing the microphone button.

How to install your Apple TV

  1. Connect your Apple TV to your HDTV via an HDMI cable.
  2. Plug your Apple TV into the wall outlet.
  3. Turn on your TV and select the HDMI output you’ve connected your Apple TV to.
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts navigate through the Apple TV set up.
  5. What your favorite movies and show.   

You don’t need an Apple ID to use Apple TV, however, it greatly enhances the experience. Beyond allowing you access any media you bought on iTunes, connecting your device to an Apple ID lets you buy movies, subscribe to services on the device, and more.

A photo showing the plug-in options for your device
Apple

What are Apple TVs killer features?

4K upgrade of older library titles

One feature to love about the Apple TV is the 4K upgrade on video content bought and rented via iTunes. If you have a large, pre-existing library of iTunes movies you’ve been buying for years, your device will automatically play them in the best image quality available. As someone who spent a ton of money on DVDs—only to spend even more switching over to BlueRay—this free upgrade is a blessing. 

An image of Mission Impossible on the APp Store

Even better, Apple doesn’t up-charge for 4K movies. For example Mission Impossible: Fallout as a new release on Vudu costs $24.99 for the 4K edition. On iTunes, the movie can be purchased for $19.99. For digital movie collectors, this little feature in Apple TV’s iTunes movies is a blessing. But keep in mind: It’s only available on the Apple TV 4K. 

Voice Remote with Siri

Users control the Apple TV with a special touch/voice remote. Navigation is controlled by swiping on the touch pad on the top of the remote. There’s also voice search available by pressing the microphone button, activating Siri.

Users can ask Siri to play specific shows, pull up songs, search for films by actors or directors you like, and more. Pause your favorite show with a voice command or ask to see the weather report before leaving the house. Siri isn’t just for playing media, its like a little personal assistant with a bit more privacy.

iOS Controls

All iOS devices have support for controlling your Apple TV built into them. You’ll need to be on the same Wi-Fi network, but it’s a blessing when your tiny Apple TV remote falls under your sofa for the 400th time. You can also access Siri voice search using the iOS remote.

How much is Apple TV?

Apple TV doesn’t overwhelm you with options. It starts at $149 for the basic model and topping out at $199 for the high-end 4K version. Here’s everything you need to know about how about each model.

Apple TV HD

The entry-level device starts at $149, a solid $50 more than the most expensive Roku device. With 1080p video, 32GB of storage, and a voice-controlled Siri remote, the device is ready to meet your basic streaming needs right out of the box.

It also comes with one free year of Apple’s TV+ streaming service included with the cost of purchase. The biggest selling point of this option is the simplicity of its interface, but paying $149 for an HD streaming device is a big ask. This is recommended for Apple devotees only.

A photo of the Apple TV device and the remote
Apple

Apple TV 4K

At $170 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB version, the Apple TV 4K is the most expensive streaming media player on the market outside of gaming consoles.

While the device can play games, it isn’t a game console, even if its price comes close to one. However, if money is no object, this option is one of the best media players on the market.

This was also the first streaming player on the market with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio. This offers a breathtaking cinematic on setups that can take advantage of it. Particularly if you’re working with a high end system, you’ll get a better picture out of the Apple’s 4K device than an entry level 4K Roku device.

Still, most viewers won’t be able to tell the difference unless they’re particularly attuned to minute details. Its only problem is that the second best devices are still $70 to $100 cheaper.

A photo of the device and remote

Best channels on Apple TV

Each device comes preloaded with iTunes Movies, iTunes TV Shows, the App Store, Photos, Music, Search, Computers, and Settings. Movies and TV Shows are where you’ll find any media content you’ve bought on the iTunes store.

The App Store helps you download apps, games, and services for your device. Below you’ll find our five favorite channels and apps to get your started. If you’re still looking for more content, check out these other winning apps on Apple TV.

Disney+

Every Apple TV device supports Disney+, bringing the Marvel Universe, Disney, Pixar, and NatGeo content into your home for one low cast.

Amazon Prime Video

If you’re already a Prime member, you’ll have access to Amazon’s full library of movies, Amazon originals, documentaries, 4K Ultra HD movies, and what’s new on Amazon each month.

Netflix

Already a Netflix subscriber? Apple TV makes it easy to stream. Here are our guides for best movies on Netflix, and the must-see Netflix original series, documentaries, docuseries, and movies.

Hulu

Whether you choose Hulu with Limited Commercials, upgrade for Hulu with No Commercials, or sign up for the Disney+/Hulu/ESPN+ bundle, all options offer a wealth of great moviesshowsdocumentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originalsHulu Live TV is also a popular way of watching live TV online. 

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is Apple’s entry into streaming. Featuring great original series like Little America, Apple’s streaming service is still building its content library, but what its made is incredible. You get one year of Apple TV+ for free with the purchase of your Apple streaming device.

Live TV streaming on Apple TV

Sling TV

Thanks to its consistently affordable, flexible pricing starting at $30 per month, Sling TV carved out a powerful niche in streaming TV wars. As its competition continues to raise their prices, Sling TVs a le cart offerings remain an affordable and feature-packed alternative for cord-cutters.

YouTube TV

Although YouTube TV recently raised its price to $64.99 per month, this streaming TV service still has plenty of value to offer. Its package includes 85+ major channels like ESPN, Comedy Central, and all four major TV networks (and their local affiliate programming that can be hard to lock down on other streaming services. That means you won’t have to scramble to catch the big game or Drag Race. Factor in its unlimited cloud DVR for up to six users and YouTube TV is a tempting package for big TV-loving families.

Hulu Live TV

Hulu Live TV offers a wonderful middle ground in the streaming TV pricing wars. At $54.99 per month, this package delivers 60+ channels, including the big three news networks, Bravo, ESPN, and more. Along with streaming TV subscribers get a basic streaming Hulu package, giving Hulu the largest on-demand library of any streaming TV service.

How does it stack up against the competition?

A screenshot of the user-friendly interface
Amazon

Apple TV vs. Fire TV Stick

Unless you come from generational wealth, it’s difficult to recommend the Apple TV over Fire TV Stick. At $29.99, the entry level Fire TV Stick Lite provides the exact same 1080p HD picture as the $149 Apple device. For $39.99 the Fire TV Stick come with 1080p, HDR support, and a bluetooth remote that can control your TV.

If you’d like a 4K model, Apple starts at $170 for a 32GB version and tops out at $199 for the 64GB edition. Meanwhile, the jump to 4K with the Fire TV Stick 4K is just $49.99. If you’re loaded or simply have your entire digital library purchased through iTunes, we understand. Otherwise, Apple’s streaming device is just too expensive.

Apple TV vs. Roku

While Apple TV is an impressive feature-packed device, its cost is a massive problem compared to the competition. This is particularly true in the world of Roku. A basic HD Roku Express starts at just $29.99, with the 4K Roku Premiere costing just $39.99.

That means the basic Apple device is over $100 more than Roku’s simple 4K solution. As much as we adore the Apple interface and ease of use, Roku is just as easy and costs far less. If money is no object, then go with Apple. Everyone else should look elsewhere.


Streaming Device Guides

Amazon FireApple TVAndroid
ChromecastiOSPlaystation
RokuSmart TVsXBox

Live TV Service Guides

AT&T TV NOW CBS All AccessFubo TV
Hulu with Live TVPhiloPluto TV
Sling TVVidgoYouTube TV

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. The Daily Dot may receive a payment in connection with purchases of products or services featured in this article. Click here to learn more.

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*First Published: Mar 27, 2019, 6:00 am CDT