The Apple TV app is designed to pull all of your TV in one place. It’s home to the Apple TV+ subscription service, but it also presents shows from other streaming partners like Prime TV and Disney+, as well as thousands of movies to buy or rent.
There’s curated sections to help you discover more of what you like, based on what you watch across all the different platforms, as well as editor’s choices to pick the best from all the different platforms and do the leg work for you.
The Apple TV app is available across a range of devices – not just iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV – but non-Apple devices too, including Samsung Smart TVs, LG TVs, Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV devices.
We have a separate feature that focuses on how the Apple TV app works and all the devices it is supported on, but here we are looking at how to use the Apple TV app on iPhone and iPad, with some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of it.
How Apple TV app works on iPhone and iPad
The Apple TV app has four main navigation tabs at the bottom: Watch Now, Originals, Library, Search. If you start watching a show or movie through the Apple TV app on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll be able to pick up exactly where you left off on any other device you open the Apple TV app on.
For those with AirPods, iOS 14 brought automatic switching so you’ll be able to start a show or movie on your iPhone, pick it up on your iPad and continue listening and watching, without having to mess around with controls.
Watch Now is where you’ll find curated lists like ‘What to Watch’, ‘Best of BBC iPlayer’, ‘Best of ITV Hub’, ‘New & Noteworthy’, as well as the ability to browse content by decade, editor’s picks based on your mood and browse content by collection – like Family Movie Night.
Any shows you add from any supported service, will also appear at the top of the Watch Now section in an Up Next section. It’s a little like Netlix’s My List, but it shows you everything from each supported platform.
There are also three seperate sections at the top of the Watch Now tab: Movies, TV Shows, Kids. In the Movies section, you’ll find a number of different sections, like Top Movies, Limited-Time Prices, Now Available to Rent and New & Noteworthy, among others.
The TV Shows section offers sections like Today’s Highlights, Bingeworthy Series on BBC iPlayer, Watch Entire Seasons, Catch Up Now and Reality Bites.
The Kids section enables you to find shows based on the characters your kids like, such as Paw Patrol or Hey Duggee. There are also sections with all the BBC iPlayer Kids shows for example, Recent Hit Movies, Must-See Family Movies and Milkshake! Favourites. At the bottom of the kids section is the ability to select age ranges, like 2-4 or 5-7, to discover new shows for your kids to watch.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Originals section of the Apple TV app is where you’ll find the all the Apple TV+ content. It too has various sections, like Latest Releases, Drama Series, Comedy Series, Family Fun and Feature Films, among others. You can also watch trailers for the shows and movies coming soon.
Library is where you’ll find any movies or shows you have purchased through iTunes in the past. There is a section for Recently Purchased Shows and a section for Recently Purchased Movies, but above those, you can tap on TV Shows, Movies, Family Sharing and Genres to access your purchased content too.
The Family Sharing tab here allows you to see and watch anything any members of your Family Sharing group have purchased by tapping on their name.
The Search section of the Apple TV app allows you to search for any show or movie in the search bar at the top. You can then tap on the “+Add” button at the top in order to add a show or movie to your Up Next list that appears in the Watch Now tab we mentioned.
The Search section also has various sections – like Comedy or Action – that you can tap on to reveal movies and shows that fall into these categories.
Apple TV app tips and tricks
Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the Apple TV app on iPhone and iPad.
Add a show to your Up Next
Search for a show you want to watch > Tap on the show in the list > Tap on the “+Add” button in the top right. It will then appear in your Up Next section in the Watch Now tab.
Download a show to watch
Open the Apple TV app > Tap on the show you want to download or search for it > Select Download if it’s a film > Or select the download icon for the each episode on a TV show.
Clear your play history
Open the Apple TV app > Tap on your Profile in the top right corner > Clear Play History.
Try a Apple TV Channel
You can try any of the Apple TV Channels for free for seven days. Each has their own individual monthly subscription charges after the trail period, but they also all have their own shows.
Open the Apple TV app > Tap on the Watch Now tab > Scroll down to Channels > Tap on the Channel you want to try > Try [Channel] Free.
Search for specific content for kids, by age
Open the Apple TV app > Tap on the Watch Now tab > Tap on Kids at the top > Scroll down to the bottom > Select Ages 2-4, Ages 5-7 or ages 8-10.
See what to watch based on what you like
Open the Apple TV app > Tap on the Watch Now tab > Tap on See All under the What to Watch section.
Access a family members purchased content
To access a family member’s purchased content, they will need to be within your Family Group.
Open the Apple TV app > Tap on Library > Family Sharing > Select the person’s who’s content you want to see > Select the content you want to watch.
Search by service
You can search by a compatible service – like Amazon Prime – to see the top results that come up for that service. You can then add a show or movie from the service to your Up Next list, or you can watch it through the respective service’s app. Netflix isn’t compatible as yet.
Open the Apple TV app > Tap on the Search tab at the bottom > Search for the service > Select between Top Results, Movies and TV Shows.
Connect two sets of Airpods to share audio
Apple iPhone and iPads allow you to connect two sets of AirPods. You can then share the audio whilst watching one screen. Great for when on a plane for example.
Turn on/off mobile data for streaming
Open the settings app on your iPhone or iPad > Scroll down to Apple TV > Toggle Use Mobile Data on or off under the streaming options section.
Turn on/off mobile data for downloading
Open the settings app on your iPhone or iPad > Scroll down to Apple TV > Toggle Use Mobile Data on or off under the download options section.
Access 4K HDR content
To find 4K HDR content – which you can then buy or rent and watch on a compatible 4K HDR TV: Open the Apple TV app > Tap on Search > Tap on Movies Now in 4K HDR.