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Apple TV 4: Using the Home Screen Marquee

Apple TV 4: Using the Home Screen Marquee

published by Chand Bellur
September 29, 2016 at 3:25 p.m. PST

The Home screen on Apple TV 4 features an interactive marquee. This article examines how to customize and use the Home screen marquee.

Apple TV 4 introduces new hardware and the tvOS operating system. Previous models of Apple TV did not allow users to move third-party apps to the top row of icons. This was due to the fact that the top row icons control the marquee’s display. The marquee is the interactive banner at the top of the Home Screen. With Apple TV 4 and tvOS, it’s now possible to add third-party apps and folders to the Home screen. Many of these apps provide custom behaviors for the Home screen marquee.

First-Party Apps and the Home Screen Marquee

Apple’s default apps are known as first-party apps. They are apps that are essential to the Apple ecosystem, such as iTunes Movies, iTunes TV Shows, Music and the App Store. By default, these apps reside on the top row of the Home screen. Selecting one of these apps will change the behavior of the Home Screen marquee. For example, selecting Movies will display current rentals, purchased items and top movies.

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Third-Party Apps and the Home Screen Marquee

tvOS is a radical departure from the previous Apple TV operating system. Derived from iOS, it offers developers much more freedom. In addition to allowing developers to create and distribute apps through the App Store, third-party apps can now take advantage of the marquee. Apps such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW and Vevo can utilize the Home screen marquee.

Activating the marquee with a third-party app is easy. First, move the app to the top row of the home screen. You can do this by selecting the app with the Touch surface. Next, click and hold the Touch surface until the app icon starts to wiggle. Finally, use the Touch surface to place the app on the top row of icons. This will have the side effect of moving one of Apple’s first-party apps off the top row. I recommend replacing Podcasts with a third-party app, as it offers no interactive marquee behavior.

Now that the app icon is on the top row, selecting the app displays interactive content in the marquee. You can swipe up on the Touch surface to interact with the marquee. Scroll horizontally using the Touch surface and click on an item to select it.

For the most part, third-party apps use the marquee to display featured content. For example, Netflix and Hulu display popular shows and movies. HBO NOW shows video categories such as movies and HBO original series. Not all third-party apps support the Home screen marquee. Try it out with your favorite app and see what happens!

Folders and the Home Screen Marquee

tvOS 10 was a bit disappointing for those who crave features. I personally value stability over features, and it seems like tvOS 10 is more robust than its predecessor. That said, one overlooked feature is that folders now offer Home screen marquee behavior. A folder on the top row will display its content in the marquee when selected. Users can select apps directly from the marquee. This is an excellent way to quickly access all of your favorite apps. Just put them in a folder, move it to the top row and you can quickly access the apps from the marquee.

Adding apps to folders is easy, but beyond the scope of this article. Appledystopia already features an article on how to use folders. This includes how to add apps and move folders.

There is an optimal location for a folder on the top row. If you place it on the left-most “slot”, you can quickly access the folder by pressing the Menu button while on the Home screen. This makes for an easy way to launch all of your favorite apps. Simply press the Menu button and then navigate the interactive marquee.

It is important to note that when you place an app in a top-row folder, the marquee displays a promotional image of each app in the folder. This means that the app’s marquee behavior will not function. For example, if you place Netflix in a top-row folder, the marquee will display a promotional image for Netflix that can launch the app when clicked. It no longer displays popular videos on Netflix. It’s a tradeoff.

Personally, I don’t use the Home screen to launch apps. I prefer to use Siri. Simply hold down the Siri (microphone) button on the remote and say “launch [app name]” and the app will start up. You don’t even need to go to the Home screen. Using Siri, you can directly launch an app while you’re using another app. This saves a trip to the Home screen, and it’s very intuitive.

People have often criticized Apple for being too rigid and only offering one way to accomplish a user interface task. This isn’t true anymore. As Apple’s products evolve they become more flexible, offering a few ways to interact with the UI. Something as simple as the Home screen marquee can open up many new possibilities. You can also use Siri to launch apps, change settings, get information (weather, stock quotes, sports scores) and ask for suggestions. As tvOS continues to evolve, I expect more flexibility and features.

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