How Does the Apple TV Work?

The last time we moved, the previous owners left an Apple TV box behind. It sat in a closet for months because we had no idea what it was or how it worked. Now, years later, I'm not sure how we ever lived without her.

Apple TV box and remote control

If you have an Apple TV box and you're not sure what to do with it or if you're considering a purchase, read on for more information.

What is Apple TV and how does it work?

Apple TV is a streaming device. So if you connect the box to your TV or monitor with an HDMI cable (not included), you can stream content to your display over the Internet. This is the hardware, not the Apple TV + streaming service that launched in 2019.

You can watch free content from sites like YouTube and Facebook, but you need subscriptions to watch the most popular movies and TV shows. While you can download and save apps on new Apple TV models, you cannot download and save content.

Companies like Netflix, Apple, and Disney store their content on corporate servers. When you access it, their servers send the content to you one at a time. If you have a reliable internet connection, you can get this data and view or listen to it right away. Occasionally, if your internet connection is a little slow, your content may pause while you wait for the data to come in.

Setting up your Apple TV is easy

Apple TV back of the box

You can connect an Ethernet cable from the Apple TV box to your modem, or you can set up the box to work for a wireless connection to your WiFi network. Setting up Apple TV is a straightforward process.

Setup Apple TV

To set up your device, you'll need an Apple ID. If you're already using other Apple products, you're good to go. If you are not already an Apple user, you can set up an account directly from the device.

Then you can download your favorite apps to your Apple TV and enjoy the content.

Your Apple TV remote

Apple TV remote control

Use the glass touchpad on top of the remote control to swipe through the menus and click to make a selection. If you hold down the sides of the touchpad, you can fast forward and rewind programs.

If the touchpad seems a little too sensitive, you can change the sensitivity by bringing up the Apple TV the settings. Choose Remote controls and devices> Touch Surface Tracking, then Choose Your desired speed.

The Menu The button wakes your Apple TV when it's idle and displays a list of available apps, pre-installed apps, and downloaded apps.

The At home The button (which looks like a TV) takes you straight to the Apple TV homepage, where you can buy or rent content, or view previously purchased content from your library. When you hold down the button At home With this button you can put your device to sleep.

When viewing content, use the Break Button to start and stop streaming. You can easily adjust your sound with Volume control (+/-) Keys and use the microphone Key for voice recognition functions. You can ask Siri to find shows for you and dictate your selections right in search boxes. If you have an older model of Apple TV, you may not have voice recognition options.

What can you do with an Apple TV?

Once you've set up your Apple TV, you'll be able to access streaming video over the internet. And you can do so much more than just watch movies. This is how Apple TV works

You can:

  • Watch free content. There is a lot of free content out there without paying a dime. Some examples are YouTube, Tubi, PopcornFlix, Newsy, and Ted.
  • View subscription content. If you pay for services from major players like Netflix, Disney +, Apple TV +, and Amazon, you can watch them on Apple TV.
  • View network content. For example, if you've already subscribed to cable or satellite services, NBC, TSN, or the Hallmark Channel.
  • Listen. There is music, meditations, podcasts and more. This is a great option for music lovers, especially if your TV has a surround sound system.
  • play games. You can subscribe to the Apple Arcade for around $ 5 a month. There are also loads of fun free games to download from the App Store.
  • Access your iTunes account. If you've used Apple products before, chances are you've bought music or movies. You can watch these in your Apple TV library. Of course, you can also display your personal content such as photos and videos on your television.
  • Use screen mirroring. You can play content from other devices. If you or a friend have content on your iPhone or iPad, you can easily connect those devices to your TV using your WiFi and AirPlay software on your device. This makes it easy to share content on a big screen.

Around 100 preinstalled apps are currently included with the purchase of an Apple TV. If that's not enough, there are thousands more to choose from on the App Store. So you can listen to, watch and play a lot of content.

Once you get the hang of it, you'll get tips on how to use your Apple TV more efficiently and customize it to suit your needs.

Is Apple TV worth the cost?

Now that you know how Apple TV works, it's time to decide if it's worth the investment. There are several cheaper alternatives like Chromecast, Amazon Firestick, and Roku that you can use to stream your favorite content.

When comparing Apple TV to other devices that do the same thing, cost is the biggest factor. Apple TV definitely costs the most, but it has a sleek, minimalist design with very few buttons and controls. It's easy to use, and die-hard Apple fans will likely want to stick with the brand.

If you have Apple devices and want easy compatibility, Apple TV might be your best bet. Otherwise, a cheaper option might work as well or better for you.

Do you want another tip? If you earn Airmiles or participate in other incentive programs, look out for Apple TVs in their reward offers.


The Apple TV app is now available on Fire TV Sticks

If you have a Fire TV Stick, you can now install the Apple TV app on it. You get access to your iTunes library and Apple TV +.

About the author

Shari Talbot
(9 articles published)

Shari is a freelance Canadian technology, education, and real estate writer and is a regular contributor to MakeUseOf.

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