Apple tvOS 13 & Apple TV App: Everything to Know | Digital Trends (2023)

Apple tvOS 13 & Apple TV App: Everything to Know | Digital Trends (1)

Apple tvOS 13, the latest version of Apple TV software, boasts a number of much-requested design changes and features, including a new Control Center, a revamped home screen, and multi-user support.


  • Mom, use your own account
  • Karaoke, meet Apple TV
  • Plug and play
  • Is that a new home screen?
  • The new Apple TV app

But the fun doesn’t end there. There’s also a refreshed Apple Music client that showcases lyrics in time with the music, and compatibility with both the PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller and Xbox Wireless Controller. Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Apple tvOS13, as well as the universal Apple TV app.

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Mom, use your own account

Despite being one of the most expensive streaming devices on the market, the Apple TV has always lacked a feature its cheaper counterparts have long offered: Support for multiple users — and that has irked customers since its inception.


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We can see why. There’s nothing worse than starting a new series, pausing to make dinner, then being unable to resume viewing when you return because a family member jumped in to the app while you were slaving away at the stove.

With tvOS, however, the whole family can sign into their own accounts through the new Control Center to be served their own personalized recommendations for new shows, movies, and music. They can also resume playback of old ones.

Karaoke, meet Apple TV

Having a little get-together? Enter Apple Music. More specifically, the revamped Apple Music for tvOS 13, which has a new karaoke mode built-in. Granted, that’s not what Apple calls it, but take it from us, that’s what it’s good for.

Just like on iOS, Apple Music for tvOS can now display lyrics in sync with the music that’s being played. So, stock up on vodka (or your preferred poison), invite some of your closest friends over, and relive the ’80s the only way we know how.

Plug and play

Apple’s tvOS 13 brings support for two new handheld controllers, namely Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Controller and Sony’s PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller, which can both be used for titles available through Apple Arcade.

That, for those unaware, is the Cupertino, California-based firm’s on-demand game subscription service and home to more than 100 new and exclusive titles that run on the Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, and Mac.

Is that a new home screen?

Apple tvOS 13 & Apple TV App: Everything to Know | Digital Trends (2)

In short: Yes, it is a new home screen. It sports full-screen content previews — leave the cursor on a title for a few seconds and it’ll begin playing the trailer. It’s not quite as annoying as the same feature within the Netflix app, but it’s close.

Thankfully, however, Apple has provided us with a way to disable these auto-previews in the tvOS settings — something Netflix steadfastly refuses to do.

The new Apple TV app

The awkwardly named Apple TV app didn’t get a lot of love from folks in previous versions of tvOS, but that’s about to change — big time.

No longer an exclusive feature of the Apple TV device, the Apple TV app is now available on every iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS machine (as long as you’re using the latest versions), plus a growing array of third party devices like smart TVs and streaming media players.

The new TV app builds on the features of the previous version, letting customers access a variety of content within a single experience, but it takes a new approach to how this is done. Using an interface that will feel immediately familiar to Netflix subscribers, the TV app home screen is called “Watch Now,” with additional screens for categories like Movies, Kids, and Sports. Each of these screens features subsections like Up Next, What To Watch, and For You, which make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

Apple claims that it’s using expert human curation to make high-level recommendations, but there are also highly personalized suggestions done by software on your Apple TV or another device.

Multiple apps in one

In addition to being able to add a select set of cable and satellite TV providers, as well as live TV streaming services such as Spectrum, AT&T TV Now, Optimum, Hulu, andFubo TV — something current TV app users can already do — there are more than 150 additional “Apple TV Channels” available to be added, all within the TV app interface. It’s a familiar concept and gives viewers greater choice over what they want to watch and how much they’re willing to pay for it.

These channels are the same third-party products — like Starz, HBO, Epix, CBS All Access, and others — that are available on platforms like Amazon Prime Video. The biggest difference is that signing up for them (and starting free trials if available) can all be done quickly and easily from within the TV app. Apple says there are more than 100,000 titles to choose from if you add all of these services up. Needless to say, Apple’s new Apple TV Plus streaming service is one of those options. Notably, Netflix is not.

Apple devices and more

Apple tvOS 13 & Apple TV App: Everything to Know | Digital Trends (3)

The new TV app is available on Apple devices, but it’s also on an extensive list of third-party products:

  • Select 2018 and 2019 Samsung Smart TVs
  • All 2020 and select 2019 and 2018 LG Smart TVs
  • Select Roku devices
  • Select Amazon Fire TV devices

Sony Android TVs will get it too, which could mean that, eventually, all Android TV devices will also get the Apple TV app, but so far it’s not something Apple has confirmed.

Is it live or on-demand?

Apple tvOS 13 & Apple TV App: Everything to Know | Digital Trends (4)

The new Apple TV app, much like its predecessor, places a focus on providing easy access to on-demand content. Regardless of the source, the various shows and movies can be watched online or downloaded for later viewing offline, and there are never any ads.

Livestreaming content lives side by side with on-demand material, but without the benefit of an on-screen guide to help you navigate livestreaming TV services. We expect that this option will be available at some point because Apple already supports livestreaming services like FuboTV, which has an optional guide view.


The new Apple TV app is free to use, but you’ll still have to pay for much of the content it’s designed to show you. Subscribing to channels is done right inside the app, and pricing can vary a lot depending on what you want to watch. Here are a few examples, courtesy of Macworld (all prices are monthly fees):

  • Acorn TV ($6)
  • CBS All Access ($10)
  • Cinemax ($10)
  • Comedy Central Now ($4)
  • CuriosityStream ($3)
  • Epix ($6)
  • HBO ($15)
  • Lifetime Movie Club ($4)
  • MTV Hits ($6)
  • PBS Living ($3)
  • Showtime ($11)
  • Starz ($9)

This list isn’t comprehensive; there are several other channels available within the TV app. One aspect of channel subscriptions that is likely to rankle some users, is that they are not crossplatform. In other words, if you subscribe to HBO (as an example) within the Apple TV app, that’s the only place you can use that subscription.

The same is true in reverse: If you sign up for HBO Now by subscribing directly to HBO, you won’t be able to use those credentials to sign in to the HBO channel within the TV app. If the latter arrangement describes your situation, it’s not a total deal-breaker as far as the TV app goes — if you have the HBO Now app installed on your Apple TV, the Apple TV app can still promote HBO content to you and even make show recommendations, but when it comes time to actually watch an HBO show, you’ll get booted over to the HBO Now app. Hardly a seamless experience.

What’s more, those prices listed above are — with the sole exception of Acorn TV — the same price as a direct subscription. As Macworld points out, if you subscribe to Apple’s Channels, you’re actually getting less flexibility in terms of viewing options for the same price.

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What is the current tvOS? ›

The tvOS 16.3. 3 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the ‌‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌‌ by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌‌ owners who have automatic software updates turned on will be upgraded to ‌tvOS 16.3. 3 automatically.

How do I update my Apple TV operating system? ›

Open Settings on Apple TV. Go to System > Software Updates and select Update Software. If an update is available, a message appears. Select Download and Install to start downloading.

What is the latest Apple TV OS version? ›

Initial releaseJanuary 9, 2007 as Apple TV Software October 29, 2015 as tvOS
Latest release16.4.1 (20L498) (April 12, 2023) [±]
Latest preview16.5 beta 2 (20L5538d) (April 11, 2023) [±]
Marketing targetTelevision, casual gaming
Support status
16 more rows

How do I get Apple TV for free for a year? ›

Make sure your eligible device is running the latest iOS, iPadOS, tvOS or macOS. Offer must be claimed in the Apple TV app within 3 months after first setting • up your new device. To see the offer appear, you will need to sign in with your Apple ID on your new device.

What devices use tvOS? ›

TvOS is the operating system that runs on the 4th and 5th generation Apple TV digital media player. It is largely based around the iOS operating systems, with added features designed to optimize app use on a television interface.

What devices are supported by tvOS 13? ›

Compatibility. tvOS 13 is designed to run on the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models. It is not compatible with earlier versions of the Apple TV, as those models do not support tvOS.

Can older Apple TV be updated? ›

How to Update a 3rd-Generation Apple TV Or Older. To update your Apple TV 3rd Generation or older, go to Settings > General > Software Updates. Then select Update Software. Next, if an update is available, select Download and Install.

Is my Apple TV too old to update? ›

Later versions are not supported. Apple TV HD (4th generation) can be updated to the current version system software, tvOS 16.0, per 2022-09-12. Apple TV 4K (1st generation) can be updated to the current version system software, tvOS 16.0, per 2022-09-12.

Do Apple TV apps need to be updated? ›

By default, apps are automatically updated when new versions are released. You can turn this feature on or off. You can also set Apple TV to automatically add apps that have an Apple TV version whenever you download apps on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch signed in to the same Apple ID.

What is the difference between the older and newer Apple TV? ›

The newest Apple TV 4K provides pretty much the same exact Apple TV experience as previous Apple TV models. It's just faster and supports a few new future-facing technologies. The newest Apple TV 4K has been upgraded with an A15 Bionic processor, which is the same chip that's in last year's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.

How do I know what version of tvOS I have on my Apple TV? ›

Select the top entry, General, within the Settings menu. Within the General settings menu, select About. In the About menu, you'll see a variety of information about your Apple TV including the model, serial number, and the tvOS version.

What is different about the newest Apple TV? ›

2022 Apple TV 4K vs 2021 Apple TV 4K - Specifications
Specifications2021 Apple TV 4K2022 Apple TV 4K
Dimensions (inches)3.9 x 3.9 x 1.43.66 x 3.66 x 1.2
Weight (ounces)157.3
ProcessorA12 BionicA15 Bionic
Storage32GB 64GB64GB 128GB
15 more rows
Oct 19, 2022

Do you get Apple TV free with Amazon Prime? ›

no it does not stream from amazon prime, but u can use ur ipad to stream it on tv, that is… Yes, the iphone connects to Apple TV, wireless . And the apple TV can be connected to the … Q: Does it come with a remote?

When you get Apple TV is everything free? ›

The main source of the confusion is that some of the shows and movies Apple presents you with in the TV app are free to subscribers, but there are plenty that are not. A person who searches in the Apple TV app for Secrets of Dumbledore, for example, will then see the option buy or rent.

How long will Apple TV be free? ›

3 months free.

Apple TV+ is included for 3 months when you purchase an Apple device and redeem the offer within 90 days.

How many apps does tvOS have? ›

The tvOS App Store is one of the most popular mobile app vendors on the planet, offering 21,469 apps. Find out how many apps are available on other app stores.

Which TVs have Apple TV app built in? ›

  • Samsung QLED 8K Q9, Q8 Series (2019, 2020)
  • Samsung QLED 4K Q9, Q8, Q7, Qx Series (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
  • Samsung UHD 8, 7, 6 Series (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
  • Samsung FHD/HD 5,4 Series (2017, 2018, 2020) 1
  • Samsung Serif Series (2019, 2020)
  • Samsung The Frame Series (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) 1

Can all TVs use Apple TV? ›

To take full advantage of Apple TV 4K's audio and visual capabilities, you'll need a TV that supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision, and a sound system that is Dolby Atmos–compatible.

What's new on tvOS 16? ›

Apple previewed tvOS 16 during the WWDC 2022 keynote.
New features in tvOS 16
  • Nintendo Switch controllers compatibility: tvOS 16 will finally support Nintendo Switch's Joy-Cons and Pro Controller. ...
  • HDR10+ support: The latest generation of high-dynamic-range technology is now supported in the Apple TV app.

Should I update to iOS 16 or wait? ›

iOS 16: Why you should wait

No iOS release is bug-free, and it's always possible that you're going to run into problems you didn't have before. That said, between the new features and security updates present in iOS 16.1 and beyond, we really think most users will be much better off if they grabbed the latest version.

What's new Apple TV OS 15? ›

The tvOS operating system brings HomePod mini integration as the TV speaker, Spatial Audio, and more: For All of You: Browse a new row in the Apple TV app to find something that everyone in the house can't wait to watch. Shared with You: Movies and shows shared through Messages appear in a new row in the Apple TV app.

When was iOS 16 released? ›

iOS 16 was officially released on September 12, 2022. See Apple's official release notes for consumers, for enterprise, for developers, and security update contents.


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