What is an Apple TV? (And what does it do?)

By ANAS KHAN 12 Min Read

A streaming device called an Apple TV connects to your TV and enables you to watch TV series and films from services like Netflix, Hulu, Max, and Disney+. Any non-smart TV is effectively transformed into one by it. If you already own a smart TV, you can use it to run Apple’s tvOS smart operating system rather than the native smart interface of your TV.

Apple TV

Apple TV

The gap is filled by a device like Apple TV, also referred to as a set-top box. Apple TV is connected to your TV through HDMI, the inputs are changed to Apple TV, and then you can access Web video apps on your lovely big TV screen.

The funny thing is, some individuals still use Apple TV even if they have smart TVs. This may be due to the fact that they have stopped paying for cable and now only use Apple TV to view video material on their TV, or simply because the Apple TV interface is so much simpler to use. (I belong to the latter group.)

You inquired as to whether an iPhone is required to use Apple TV. You do not require an Apple TV, but you will need one to sign up, log in, and purchase content like TV series and movies.

So what can you actually watch on it? With more than 50 “channels,” Apple TV provides access to streaming media from websites such as Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv, ESPN, Disney, ABC News, CNBC, and more. Here is a comprehensive list. You merely have access to the content that the content provider has chosen to make accessible via the Internet; this does not imply that you receive all of the content that you would receive from cable channels.

Hardcore Apple users who may currently be camped out in front of Apple Stores for no apparent reason also adore Apple TV for its AirPlay features. This means that, as long as all of your devices are linked to the same Wi-Fi network, you can mirror everything you’re doing on your MacBook or iPhone on the screen of your TV.

What’s more significant, though, is that Apple has been in discussions with TV producers to put together a selection of “channels” that are often only available through a standard cable subscription. As an illustration, when HBO Now releases next month, it will only be compatible with Apple products (such as Apple TV). Now you see where this is going. Apple’s potentially disruptive side project could end up hurting the cable giants.

Now, @Wmui1, I would suggest that you think about a few things before going out and purchasing an Apple TV box. First, this man over at BuzzFeed claims that a new Apple TV box will be launched this summer.

Additionally, there are a variety of alternative ways to play your online streaming video on a TV. You already have access to streaming video services like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, ESPN, and more if you enjoy playing video games on a console like the Microsoft Xbox or Sony PlayStation.

The $90 Roku 3 is Apple’s main rival in this market for other set-top boxes. Another option from Roku is a $50 streaming “stick” that essentially accomplishes the same thing. The more than 2,000 Web video channels that Roku provides are its main selling point, which is quite amazing. (I have yet to run into a Roku owner, though, who truly makes use of all of these. Please introduce me to everyone you know.)

The $35 Chromecast stick from Google, which “casts” or throws the content you’re viewing on your iPhone, Android phone, or Chrome Web browser onto your TV screen, and the $39 Fire TV stick from Amazon are other options. It offers many of the same well-known apps that the competition does, but it also integrates with a $30 Amazon remote that enables voice-activated video search.

There are therefore many choices. It would be a significant differentiator for this small box if Apple were to transform “Apple TV” into an over-the-top service for streaming video that is currently exclusively available through cable.

An Apple TV+ streaming

An Apple TV+ streaming

Apple TV+ is another option. The focus of Apple’s own premium streaming service is on unique content. Only content that is offered on Apple TV+ is available for viewing.

Furthermore, Apple TV+ is a need to watch Friday Night Baseball. Game viewing was formerly free on Apple. The 2023 season, however, will mark the first time a subscription will be required.

But Apple TV+ itself isn’t all that exclusive. You can watch Apple TV+ on your Apple TV through the TV app, but you can also do it pretty much everywhere else, including on Roku, Amazon, Google, and other gadgets. either online or on a web browser. 

That makes sense, too, as what use is a streaming service that can only be accessed by a specific set of devices?

Apple TV+ has a $6 monthly fee.

Apple TV software

Apple TV software

In January 2007, the first Apple TV hardware was released, and it utilized a customized version of Mac OS X Tiger. It goes without saying that a lot has changed since then. A dedicated branch of Apple software called Apple tvOS gives the impression that the iPhone or iPad experience has been scaled down for a living room screen.

Icons for apps make up the home screen, which is as basic as it gets. And the Apple TV app store is where all of those apps are found.

Finally, that’s it. Mostly. Holding down the TV button on the remote will slide open a Control Centre that resembles that of an iPhone, iPad, or Mac when it comes to appearance. You can also double-click it to display thumbnails of the open apps, which you can swipe away to manually close.

The range of apps available is vast. Of course, there are streaming services, such as Hulu With Live TV and YouTube TV., and services. additional videos and music. If you enjoy playing games, the Apple TV’s Apple Arcade has a heap to offer.

You can completely personalize your experience from that of a family member in terms of apps, notifications, and other features thanks to the ability for multiple user accounts. Additionally, tvOS is still a wonderful platform for things like AirPlay, which enables you to mirror your phone on your TV or stream video from a Mac or mobile device.

Furthermore, if you own an Apple Watch, it makes sense to access Apple Fitness+ through Apple TV.

Apple TV (the hardware) enables HomeKit (the software) to be used to control enabled devices for individuals who are interested in Apple’s smart home environment. There is an incentive to purchase the more expensive of the two existing Apple TV 4K models because that ecosystem should expand dramatically if Thread support becomes commonplace.

TvOS will receive upgrades in tandem with the rest of Apple’s software, just like other Apple products.


Apple TV is a streaming box that connects to your TV via HDMI, allowing you to access web video apps on your big TV screen. It effectively turns any dumb TV into a smart TV, allowing you to run Apple’s smart operating system, called tvOS, instead of your smart TV’s native smart interface. Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv, ESPN, Disney, ABC News, CNBC, and more are among the more than 50 channels available on Apple TV. Some hardcore Apple users also love Apple TV for its AirPlay capabilities, allowing you to display your content on your TV screen, provided all devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Apple has been in talks with TV programmers to put together a package of “channels” that normally would only be accessible through a traditional cable subscription. For example, HBO’s upcoming streaming service, HBO Now, will be available only on Apple devices (like Apple TV) when it launches next month. Before purchasing an Apple TV box, keep in mind that a new model is expected to be launched this summer.

There are numerous alternative ways to watch streaming Web content on a TV, such as using a game console like the Microsoft Xbox or Sony PlayStation, which already come equipped with Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, ESPN, and other streaming media apps. The most significant rival to Apple in this market is the $90 Roku 3, which sells a streaming “stick” for only $50. Other streaming devices include the $35 Chromecast stick from Google, the $39 Fire TV stick from Google, and the $35 Fire TV stick from Amazon.

The Mac OS X Tiger-based Apple TV software that was introduced in January 2007 has changed a lot since then. Icons for apps on the home screen are straightforward and come from the Apple TV app store. The app store has a huge selection of utilities, music, games, and streaming services. Additionally, Apple TV supports AirPlay, multiple user accounts, and Apple Fitness+.

Apple TV (the hardware) enables customers to use HomeKit (the software) to control supported devices if they are a part of Apple’s smart home ecosystem. For those interested in Apple’s smart home ecosystem, this ecosystem will likely increase enormously once Thread support becomes commonplace.

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