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11 Apple TV tips, tricks and secret features you need to know about



Apple TV 2015: All the most important tips and tricks you need to know about

Apple's latest, and arguably greatest, assault on the living room is finally here. The 2015 Apple TV might look a lot like its predecessors, but underneath that shiny black surface is a powerful little beast running a new operating system called tvOS.

It's really tvOS that gives Apple TV all its smarts. Built upon iOS, it brings Siri, an updated frosty white interface and, finally, a real-life App Store to your television. But as with all new things, they can sometimes take a bit of getting used too.

We're here to help though, here's 11 Apple TV tips and tricks you need to know about.

Interested in gaming on the Apple TV? See our pick of the best Apple TV games.

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Apple TV

Tidy up your home screen

Just like on iOS, tvOS gives you the ability to mess about and rearrange your slew of home screen icons. Annoyingly, you can't put them in folders yet though. Hover over the app you want to move, hold down the touchpad until it does that trademark 'wiggle' and swipe it to a new location.

When dragged to the top row, some apps get a bit of extra functionality. Pop Netflix up there and it'll show recently added films, while Plex shows everything everything you've got on Deck.

Delete an app

To delete an app entirely from Apple TV select it with the remote, hold down on the touchpad until the icon starts to wiggle and hit the play/pause button. A confirmation box will pop up, just to make sure you really want to delete it, so click yes and bad app begone.

Bring up the multitasking menu

The multitasking features of Apple TV are barely mentioned at all, but you can quickly jump from, say, Netflix to Alto's Adventure without going back to the home screen first. Double tap the home button – that's the one that looks like a TV – and you'll jump into a multitasking view, familiar to those with an iPhone. Here you can switch to any app you've got open.

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Apple TV 2015 17

Force quit dodgy apps

While you're in the multitasking menu mentioned above you can also force quit apps, great for when they're acting up. Just head over to the app and swipe up with the touchpad.

Clean up movie dialogue

You know when loud effects bombard a movie and you can't make out what the characters are saying? Well, Apple TV has a feature to combat this. Just ask Siri to 'reduce loud sounds' and the dialogue will become much clearer.

Connect a set of Bluetooth headphones

A couple of recent streaming boxes – notably the Nvidia Shield – have remotes equipped with a jack for rerouting your television sound to a pair of headphones. Apple didn't give the Siri remote one of these, but tvOS will let you hook-up a pair of Bluetooth cans so your Netflix binges don't disturb the rest of your house. Just head into the Settings - Remotes and Device - Bluetooth and make sure you headphones are set to pairing mode.

Related: Best headphones

beats luxe

See what Siri can do

Siri is one of the killer features in the new Apple TV, and it's really good, but it can be a bit tricky to know exactly what the virtual assistant can do. Thankfully, Apple has a little overview showing you everything she can help with. Just hold down the Siri button, don't say anything and wait. A list of options will appear, from asking what the current weather to football fixtures at the weekend.

Ask Siri to rewind for you

Out of all of Siri's new-found smarts, this is easily the coolest. Say you're watching The Wire and for all your efforts you just can't decipher those strong Baltimore accents, just ask Siri, 'What did they say?' and the programme will jump back 30-seconds and flip on the subtitles. Once the time has passed, the subs will automatically turn off.

Related: Apple TV: You need to download these apps first

Apple TV 2015

Don't expect the iOS or Apple Watch app to work

Rather than a tip or trick, this is more of a warning. If you're used to using Apple's iOS Remote app on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, you're in for some bad news. It doesn't, currently anyway, work on the new Apple TV.

We hope Apple will release an update to re-enable functionality soon, but for the time being you'll have to use the Siri remote or the older aluminium version. Or...

Pair up your universal remote

If you're not a fan of Apple's included remote, you can connect up a universal one and use that instead. Just open up Settings, click Remotes and Devices and Learn Remote.

Let the music keep on playing

Apple's Spotify rivalling (though certainly not beating) music streaming service is baked into tvOS and you can happily keep on jamming to Beats 1 without being stuck in the app.

A tap on the play/pause button will stop the tunes from wherever you are, but if you long press on the same button you'll instantly jump back to the Music app.

Got your own Apple TV tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments box below

Nathaniel Freedman

November 13, 2015, 2:17 pm

Any TV with HDMI CEC can let Apple TV 4 turn off the tv when you go into sleep mode. Just hold down the home screen button and go into sleep (sorry don't know the exact term they use while typing this). The bummer is that I have a Bose soundbar that doesn't support HDMI (ARC audio) and so I still have to turn on and off the soundbar. I plan on upgrading to a soundbar that supports ARC as my TV does and then everything will turn on and off when I put Apple TV into sleep and the volume control on the remote will control the soundbar. These home theater providers are finally come up with enough standards to make the simplest of requests possible. Yes I am happy that one device turns off the other devices and that volume can be centrally controlled. It's a huge step forward for something that should have been done in the 90s.


November 13, 2015, 2:57 pm

I'm really missing Apple's remote app connectivity in the new Apple TV. I used to use that a lot, especially the keyboard functionality made it so much easier to enter text. That said, I really love how I have switched over from my universal remote to the Apple TV as the ONE remote. Apple TV now turns my TV on and off automatically, and I was able to repurpose the volume buttons to control the volume of my receiver. If I had one minor complaint about the remote, it's that a lot of times it's easy to confuse which side is up.

Coming back to the remote app on iPhone, as a developer I feel Apple could have allowed the remote app on iPhones to connect as "additional" controllers, thus opening up the possibility for multiplayer gaming, without the necessity of having to write an iPhone app to handle that.

That said, I've been enjoying some of the casual games very much. I didn't think I'd be spending so much time on the TV playing games. There's an interesting game called Break finity which is an interesting remix of the classic Arkanoid. Mr. Crab is another one that works really well. Finally I've been spending a lot of time playing this game called Moto Wheelie which is a cross between Tiny wings and hill climbing motor cycle games set in a TRON world.


November 13, 2015, 5:51 pm

Wow, it's an "assault on the living"? The damned thing can murder people? I'd better send mine back right away!


December 14, 2015, 6:34 pm

How about some kind of "night mode" that turns the backgrounds from blindingly bright white to black, so helicopterss stop trying to land at my house whenever I go to a menu screen?

Esa Juhani Ruoho

January 2, 2016, 7:46 pm

Remote App works since tvOS 9.1.

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