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Oh iTunes, why have you forsaken the Apple TV?

Oh iTunes, why have you forsaken the Apple TV?

tvOS App Store
January 27, 2016

Don’t get me wrong here, I love the new Apple TV. But I’m the first to admit that it isn’t quite perfect yet. There are still a few quirks that I hope Cupertino works out sooner, rather than later.

Now that Cupertino is resolving two of my biggest complaints about the Apple TV (iCloud Photo Library and Bluetooth keyboard support), it’s time to move on to my next major complaint. That is discovering apps for my Apple TV when I’m not on the set-top box.

Right now, if you search for apps in iTunes, you can see whether or not a particular iPhone title is compatible with the Apple TV. This is good, but it’s not quite enough.


For iPhone and iPad apps, the App Store within iTunes shows you separate lists of available titles for each type of device. Why don’t we have something similar for the Apple TV?

iTunes 2

I know what you might be saying. “But Jeff, we plug our iPhones and iPads into our computers when we first set them up. We don’t do that with the Apple TV.” Nowadays, though, you don’t necessarily even do that until you’re ready to manage it from within iTunes.

Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. The initial setup to link an Apple TV with your computer wouldn’t have to be much different than how you pair an iPhone or iPad with iTunes.

iTunes 3

Why does this even matter? Two reasons: ease of content discovery and the ability to leave and read reviews.

Ease of browsing through the available content is the biggest reason, to be honest. Right now, you have to search the tvOS App Store, navigate using the Siri Remote to look at the software you might be interested in, and then use the Menu button to go back to the list if you haven’t found what you wanted. Sure, you can type a search using a Bluetooth keyboard… Oh wait, no you can’t, unless you’re on the tvOS 9.2 beta. Even with the keyboard, let me tell you, it’s still a chore to find good content on the tvOS App Store.

Next, what if you want to leave a review for an Apple TV app? Right now, there’s no way to do so. All you can do is leave a rating, because typing a review, no matter how short or long, would be a tedious experience on the set-top box. Open up the tvOS App Store to the iTunes world, and writing and reading app reviews becomes a cinch.

Allowing us to view the tvOS App Store from a Mac or PC just seems like the logical next step. You could see a list of available Apple TV apps like you do for the iPhone or iPad, click on the one you were interested in, and read its description. You could read reviews and ratings, as well as leave your own feedback for apps you’d already tried out.

Honestly, it just doesn’t make any sense that Apple TV apps don’t show up in iTunes from a PC or Mac. I get that there’s no connection between the device and the PC aside from iTunes Home Sharing, but it would make it so much easier to discover new content, something our own Bryan Wolfe has already pointed out is a less than perfect process. Let’s hope that Apple adds iTunes support for the tvOS App Store soon, because this disconnect between it and the rest of Apple’s ecosystem baffles me.

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