Apple TV 4: The Unofficial Manual

Apple TV 4: The Unofficial Manual

Apple TV 4 ships with a brief pamphlet, but no real instruction manual. The following collection of articles comprise an unofficial Apple TV 4 manual.

Apple is notorious for shipping products with no manual and limited instructions. Apple products used to be simpler. The typical weighty tome that ships with most tech products was excessive for most Apple devices. Times have changed. Apple products are much more complicated and have hidden features. They expect you to go to the Apple Store for help. This isn’t always convenient.

Apple TV 4 is a huge leap forward. The new TV appliance is much more complicated than previous models. The App Store, Siri and the new tvOS operating system add more complexity to the fourth generation Apple TV.

The new Siri remote is deceptively simple in design. With a Touch surface and just a few buttons, the remote’s controls are overloaded. They can be interacted with in different ways, however, Apple doesn’t really explain this.

It’s up to you to experiment and research to find all of the hidden functionality. The basic features of Apple TV 4 are easy and obvious, but there are a lot of features and tricks that are more obscure.

I own an Apple TV 4 and use it every day. My experiences with Apple TV are the basis for this unofficial manual. This is a work in progress. More sections will be added over time. Click on each section heading to read the associated article.

Getting Started with Apple TV 4

For those who are new to Apple TV 4, this is a good place to start. This article covers unboxing and setting up Apple TV 4, including some tips for placing the device in your home. The article also guides you through the initial setup process. If you are interested in purchasing an Apple TV, this article is also an excellent resource.

Apple TV 4: Using the Siri Remote

The new, fourth generation Apple TV comes with a unique remote. With a glass Touch surface, accelerometer, gyroscope and microphones, it’s almost like a smart phone without a screen. This article covers both basic and advanced use of the Siri remote. Whether you are new to Apple TV or not, you’ll likely find some useful information in this article.

Siri Commands for Apple TV 4

Siri has made an impact on the way we interact with Apple’s technology. The advanced digital personal assistant is now integrated into Apple TV. Siri can operate your television, find content, make recommendations and even look up information. This article is the most comprehensive list of Siri commands for Apple TV.

Apple TV 4: Restrictions and Parental Controls

Apple TV offers content from thousands of providers. Some of this material is not suitable for all viewers. Additionally, Apple’s TV appliance is like a content vending machine in your living room. This article covers how to implement Restrictions and parental controls to protect your family and reign in unauthorized app and content purchases. This is a must-read for any family with young children.

Apple TV tvOS Apps

The newest Apple TV model brings the App Store to your living room. There’s a lot of apps, however, unless you own an Apple TV, it’s not possible to see what’s available… until now. This article presents the top 10 free and paid tvOS apps, in addition to a YouTube video with screen captures of the entire Apple TV App Store. UPDATED MONTHLY.

Apple TV 4: Using the App Store

The future of TV is apps. Apple TV 4 introduces tvOS and the App Store. Although the Apple TV App Store may seem familiar, it functions differently from its iOS counterpart. This article covers how to use the App Store, install apps, update apps and delete apps. It also examines how to avoid purchasing poor quality “lemon” apps.

Apple TV 4: Using AirPlay

Not every app is available in the Apple TV 4 App Store. Many networks and content providers available on your iPhone or computer have ignored Apple TV. Fortunately, AirPlay provides the ability to beam just about anything to your Apple TV. In addition to Apple devices, Android, Windows, Linux and ChromeOS all offer AirPlay compatible software. This article explores using AirPlay to beam content from just about any device or computer.

Play Spotify on Apple TV 4

Spotify is the most popular music streaming service. Unfortunately, there is no Spotify app for tvOS. This shouldn’t stop you from enjoying Spotify on your Apple TV. This article covers how to play Spotify on Apple TV. We’ll also take a look at options for displaying album covers, screensavers and settings for optimum sound.

Apple TV 4: Hidden Advanced Setting Menu

The new Apple TV offers a few hidden menus. These menus can only be displayed by using a special remote sequence in specific setting screens. The advanced settings menu, retail demo mode and diagnostics mode are covered in this article. Each setting is clearly explained so the adventurous Apple TV user can tweak their device.

Apple TV 4: Using the Remote App

The Siri Remote is the best way to control your Apple TV, but what happens if it breaks? The glass-faced Siri Remote could shatter if dropped. It’s best to have a back up plan. The Remote app for iOS transforms your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into an Apple TV remote. You need a working remote in order to set up the Remote app. Plan ahead and do this right away. This article shows you how to configure the Remote app and how to use it with iTunes Home Sharing.

Apple TV 4: Watch Live TV with Sling TV

As TV appliances mature and Internet connections get faster, it’s now possible to cancel your cable or satellite subscription. Sling TV makes it even easier to become a cord-cutter. The service provides a live TV channel lineup for Apple TV 4. Although Sling TV is missing a few channels, doesn’t offer a DVR and has limited on-demand options, at $20 per month, it’s a great value. This article is intended for Apple TV 4 owners or those thinking of buying a new Apple TV 4.

Watch News on Apple TV 4

Apple TV 4 offers a universe of content, including free, live streaming news. There’s a lot of options to choose from. This article showcases the best news offerings for tvOS. We’ll also take a look at how to find local news and go beyond the App Store, using AirPlay to beam news programming to Apple TV.

Protecting the Siri Remote

The Siri Remote is one of the most impressive aspects of Apple TV. With its Touchpad, accelerometer, gyroscope and 2 microphones, the Siri Remote has a lot in common with your iPhone. It’s also constructed with a glass face and is very fragile. At $79 it is expensive to replace. This article provides tips for handling, storing and protecting your Siri Remote.

Charging the Siri Remote

The Siri Remote is a sophisticated device. With its accelerometer, gyroscope and Touch surface, it’s not just an ordinary remote. In addition to covering how to charge the Siri Remote, we’ll take a look at how to check the battery level. Information about battery life and charging time is also presented in this article.

Rename Apple TV

If your household has multiple Apple TVs, AirPlay can be a bit confusing. You may also want to provide a reminder whenever you start an AirPlay session. This article covers how to rename your Apple TVs, using both presets and custom naming capabilities.

Apple TV 4: Peer-To-Peer AirPlay Without WiFi

Recent updates enable AirPlay to work without a WiFi network. Using peer-to-peer AirPlay and Bluetooth, it’s possible to beam content to your Apple TV without a WiFi network. This article is essential for road warriors or anyone with an unreliable Internet connection. We’ll also take a look at the limitations of peer-to-peer AirPlay.

Apple TV 4: Using Folders

If you like to keep your Home screens neat and tidy, folders may be right for you. We’ll take a look at two ways of adding apps to folders, renaming folders, moving folders and deleting folders.

Apple TV 4: Using the Home Screen Marquee

Prior to tvOS, the top row of icons could only contain Apple’s apps. These top-row icons influence the behavior of the Home screen marquee. With the advent of tvOS, third-party apps can now use the Home screen marquee, to the benefit of users. Apps such as Netflix and HBO NOW can display popular and recently played videos on the marquee. You can even quickly access a folder’s content using the Home screen marquee. Learn more about how to get the most out of the Home screen marquee feature.

Troubleshooting Apple TV 4

Overall, Apple products offer excellent quality, but they aren’t always perfect. Apple TV 4 is a relatively new device and runs on tvOS, a brand-new operating system. This section provides solutions to common problems with Apple TV 4.

Fix Flickering Apple TV 4: Is your Apple TV 4 causing your TV’s screen to flicker? Rest assured that this probably isn’t a problem with your TV, HDMI cable or Apple TV 4. It’s a defect in tvOS. We’ll take a look at how to fix a flickering Apple TV 4.

Apple TV 4: Fix Blank Screensaver: If your Apple TV 4 screensaver goes blank, this article provides an easy solution.

Fix Frozen Apple TV 4: Your Apple TV may occasionally freeze while using an app or after restarting it. This article covers how to fix a frozen Apple TV 4.

Apple TV 4: Fix WiFi Problems: Apple TV 4 features built-in 802.11ac WiFi capabilities, making it easy to connect to your home wireless network. This article covers how to set up and troubleshoot Apple TV 4 WiFi. Topics covered include Apple TV 4 placement, testing signal strength, optimizing WiFi router configuration and detecting WiFi theft.

More to Come

The unofficial Apple TV manual is a work in progress. Sections will be added to the manual as they are written. Make sure to check back often. You can also follow Appledystopia on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you find this information helpful, please share it with your friends and family using the sharing buttons. Feel free to leave a comment or request a specific Apple TV 4 topic.





More from Appledystopia:

17 thoughts on “Apple TV 4: The Unofficial Manual

  1. Since I can get ABC simply from an antenna I won’t need a TV provider but wonder how difficult is it to switch from Apple TV to my low tech over the air TV?

    • Apple TV is a completely different experience. If you like live TV, it probably isn’t a great option for you. It’s great for people who like on demand and don’t mind paying a little for subscription services. While there is a fair amount of free content, you get the most out of it with a few subscriptions. Right now, I am only subscribing to HBO NOW and Hulu, and it’s more than I can watch. Sometimes I will cancel one service and subscribe to another. I plan on subscribing to Netflix in a few months. It’s so easy to do and there’s no need to pay for something I’m not using.

      I watch ABC News every morning on my Apple TV, and it’s completely free, without any requirement for a TV provider. A few of the other free services I like are Comedy Central, CBSN, and PBS. Comedy Central is, unfortunately, hobbled without activating it with a TV provider. I can still watch the 4 most recent episodes of The Daily Show, and a few other programs. That’s enough for me. Crackle is another service that is completely free. It offers free movies and TV shows. The offerings are kind of like what one would see on a local independent channel.

      If you like on demand and want to supplement your over-the-air viewing with services like Netflix, HBO NOW, Showtime, Hulu and others, it’s a great way to go. I also occasionally rent movies on iTunes, which I find to be very convenient. They even have 99 cent rentals featured every week.

  2. Same question. If I want to switch from Apple TV to antenna TV how difficult is it? Is it simple to switch back and forth or will I have to repeat set up of Apple TV each time I leave it for a show I watch now through an antenna on the same TV?

    • It depends on your TV. Most TVs have multiple inputs. So you would switch to the antenna input when you watch broadcast TV and back to an HDMI input when you watch Apple TV. You won’t have to setup Apple TV more than once. In other words, you can use both without having to repeat the setup of Apple TV. Simply switch the inputs using your TV remote.

    • Sophia, we use antenna tv and just installed apple tv. You put the apple tv into sleep and your antenna tv is back on. Pretty simple. We like it so far. With our smart tv, we just hit exit after watching netflix or hulu and it goes back to antenna.

    • It’s not really a complete manual. After all, it’s not good marketing to mention that their product could have problems. For example, how do you fix a frozen Apple TV? They won’t tell you because Apple doesn’t want to hurt their brand. They don’t offer much information on how to fix WiFi problems. I cover everything from Apple TV placement to WiFi router tuning. Apple doesn’t cover third party products. How do you watch live TV on Apple TV? Their manual won’t provide that information. I’m in the process of writing an article about that. That’s essential information for a TV appliance manual. Apple won’t cover anything other than iTunes. Even their list of Siri commands is incomplete.

      Apple also wants people to come in to the Apple Store. After all, you may buy something else. Their lack of documentation is intentional. It creates Apple Store traffic and maintains brand integrity.

      I’ve never seen more incomplete documentation from any other tech company. Even some no-name product will at least have a manual with a trouble shooting guide. They do this to protect their brand and increase Apple Store traffic. It’s not in the interest of their customers.

      One great example — they no longer provide instructions on how to calibrate the iPhone battery. They used to provide this information in the pamphlet. Their battery technology hasn’t changed. The battery metering in iOS can still run amok as battery capacity diminishes over time. They removed this information because it made their products look bad. If someone has a battery problem, they want them to come into the Apple Store and maybe leave with another Apple product. I know for a fact that Apple Geniuses tell people how to calibrate the battery.

  3. All of these start-ups are avoiding Fox News in their offerings. Why? And why are there no Christian channels offered as a bundle. For $10.00 I can get 70 Christian stations but why is there no bundle available? That market is still very large.

    • It may be FOX News that’s avoiding streaming. CNN is also trying to thwart cord-cutters by requiring a cable or satellite subscription. FOX does offer FX Now and some other channels on Apple TV, either directly or through services like Sling TV.

      For FOX News, there’s a workaround. You can go to their website and watch the live feed. Using AirPlay, you can beam it to your Apple TV. Even if you have an older Mac or Windows PC, you can use AirPlay by installing AirParrot (about $15). Newer Macs have built-in support for AirPlay.

      It may be the same situation with Christian channels. It’s usually the content provider that prevents streaming on TV appliances such as Apple TV. They often have deals with cable and satellite companies that prevent this. As these deals reach expiration, more and more content providers are offering their service on TV appliances.

    • I just checked the App Store on my Apple TV 4, and FOX News offers an app. It’s absolutely free. There’s no need to activate it with a cable or satellite subscriber. While it doesn’t offer the live stream of the FOX News channel, it offers all of the content from every show as clips. One can turn on Auto Play so it will keep playing each news story from a show. They do offer live streams of current events and FOX News radio. It looks like more content providers are removing the shackles of the cable industry and offering their services directly to consumers.

  4. Thank you. I was aware that the app from previous airing was available, but not as it is airing. Some have whole seasons of shows from the past but many want to the moment happenings not yesterday’s news. I think we will get there but it may take some time yet. Thanks again.

  5. I have a Sony BluRay player that has smart apps installed and I can install additional apps. I use it to watch Amazon Prime movies, YouTube and others. How different is Apple TV (besides Siri)? I have an Apple ecosystem in my home (long, long time user of Apple products) such as a MBP, Mini, iPhone, etc., and I’m also ready to drop Cox cable, so I’m thinking of Apple TV. I

    • For starters, Apple TV doesn’t have an Amazon Prime Video app. It may be Amazon’s fault, although Apple is notorious for taking 30% of in-app purchases and not approving apps that thwart this process. You can use AirPlay to beam Amazon Prime Video to Apple TV. It will use your iPhone’s battery, but it works. AirPlay is Apple’s technology for beaming content from an iOS device, Mac or even a PC (using iTunes or third-party AirPlay software, such as AirParrot) onto Apple TV. Unfortunately, they have hobbled this feature in tvOS. It seems like they drastically reduced the buffer size. When I play music over AirPlay, I will get a short drop-out if I walk in between my Apple TV 4 and router. This never happened with my last Apple TV, which was placed in the same location and used the same AirPort Extreme WiFi router. Video playback doesn’t seem to be affected, but sometimes it can stop working, particularly with web based videos. I need to drop the AirPlay session and restart it. My hunch is that Apple doesn’t take AirPlay seriously anymore, since they want to push the App Store. AirPlay allows users to circumvent the App Store. Then again, it could just be another defect.

      Overall, Apple TV 4 isn’t the quality you’d expect from Apple. It’s hard to cut them slack on this, because they had 4 years to work on this new model and its feature-set is somewhat conservative. It doesn’t even support 4K UHD, but they might add it with an update. 4K video is not coming with tvOS 10, which is the next major update. But we’re almost one year past its launch with a few updates, and some serious bugs haven’t been addressed. As mentioned, AirPlay has some problems. There is a problem with the screen flickering, which I have experienced a few times. As one reviewer mentioned — “Settings > System > Restart is my most frequent destination”. Apple TV 4 seems like Motorola quality with an Apple price tag. It’s possible that Apple TV 4 and tvOS will improve over time, but I haven’t seen that happening. It looks more like Apple doesn’t take this product seriously. After all, with 2/3’s of their profits coming from the iPhone, their best and brightest are working on that. If you’re expecting iPhone or Mac quality with Apple TV 4, you will be disappointed. Apple is charging a premium price for a mediocre product.

      Apple TV 4 does offer gaming, but most are mobile games you’d find on an iPhone. I’m not very impressed with the games. They’re not on par with a gaming console like PlayStation or the Xbox.

      I’d only recommend Apple TV 4 if you have a lot of iTunes movies and TV shows. You can’t move them anywhere else, so you’re pretty much locked into that ecosystem. If you use Amazon, I would suggest one of their Fire TVs. They get rave reviews and seem to be pretty solid. They’re less expensive than Apple TV 4. Apple does their same storage trickery, charging $50 more for the 64 GB model, when the price difference to them is 40 cents. No other TV appliance has these pricing tiers.

      I use my Apple TV 4 almost every day and it’s just OK. Siri isn’t very impressive. Just this morning, I asked Siri to turn off subtitles. I was watching live news (CBSN) and the subtitles were out of sync. Siri said “I can’t do that here”. Then I exited the app, asked again, same response. I just turned it off in Settings.

      Apple TV 4 is a sign of the new Apple under Tim Cook. It’s more about marketing than creating high quality products. Steve Jobs would have been screaming at people about these flaws. I don’t think Tim Cook is even aware of them. They seem to value marketing more than engineering. There seems to be a problem with engineering process too. I have to wonder how some of these defects can get past QA! Sometimes the release has to get out on time, warts and all. That said, some of these defects, like the flickering screen, are showstoppers. It doesn’t happen often. I’ve had it happen about five times in 10 months. It can be fixed by restarting it. But that’s par for the course. I find myself restarting Apple TV 4 even more than the worst Windows PC I have ever owned. In terms of quality, it is one of the worst tech products I have ever owned. If you read customer reviews, a lot of people returned them. There was a notorious problem after launch where people’s TV’s would randomly turn on.

      The fragility of the Siri Remote is another sore spot. I actually like the Siri Remote and think it’s one of the best features. It sets Apple TV 4 apart from competing TV appliances. That said, it has a glass face. If you drop it, it may shatter and it costs $79 for a replacement.

      I’d recommend Apple TV 4 if you can get a cheap one. Radio Shack had a deal where you could get a 32 GB model (which is ample storage) for less than $100. They may offer this again around Christmas time. Sling TV sells the 32 GB model for $89 if you sign up for 3 months of their service. I have a feeling Apple will drop the price soon, perhaps during next week’s Apple event.

    • You mean the home button, right? I noticed that, and immediately changed it in settings. I plan on writing an article on how to change that behavior. I found it to be a bit obnoxious, but if you love the TV app, it’s a good design. I don’t care for it at all.

      I think the TV app is weak, but that doesn’t surprise me. Apple’s stock apps are usually weak. People were so surprised that Maps wasn’t very good. (It was actually better than the backlash would indicate, but not as good as Google Maps). It didn’t surprise me. I find it more shocking when Apple releases a great stock app. They do offer great apps for professionals — Logic, Final Cut Pro. But if you’re not paying out of pocket, you get mediocre stuff like TV, News, Maps, Reminders, Notes, Safari and iTunes. They’re all kind of weak. Either Apple doesn’t take apps seriously or their engineering process doesn’t facilitate the creation of great apps.

  6. I have tried to start slideshow with my photos in my computer and have followed all instructions. Once I “Start Slideshow”, a few slides rotate through my TV, then it refers back to “Start Slideshow”. This has occurred a number of times. Is there a fix for this?

Please leave a comment. Email, name and website fields are optional. Your comment will appear after being approved by the moderator.