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The 5 best Apple TV apps that you should install right now

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In the eternal struggle to find the right streaming box for your home, you chose the Apple TV. It’s understandable, as maybe you’re already bought into Apple’s ecosystem with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer. However, one daunting task remains: figuring out which apps to install on your Apple TV to get the most out of it.

The good news is that an Apple TV supports many of the same apps as your other Apple devices. If you love something on iPhone or iPad, specifically something that relates to watching movies or TV, chances are it’s also available on Apple TV. The same goes for apps that you might have loved on a previous, non-Apple streaming box.

Whether they’re new or old to you, these essential Apple TV apps are bound to give you something to do on those lonely nights inside.

1. Apple Arcade

“Sayonara Wild Hearts” is one of the more dope games available through Apple Arcade.

Image: annapurna interactive / simogo

You probably bought an Apple TV for the “TV” part. This is a device that primarily exists for streaming content. We get it. That said, what you may or may not have known about the Apple TV is that it’s kind of also a video game console.

No, this isn’t going to do anything close to what the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X can do. But the Apple TV does support the Apple Arcade app and subscription service that Apple launched late last year. For $4.99 per month on its own, you get access to a library of downloadable games that grows and changes over time. You might not be super interested in Apple Arcade now, but if you end up subscribing to the new all-encompassing Apple One service, you’ll have access to it whether you care or not.

Those who take the plunge should do two things: Connect a controller and explore. PS4 and Xbox controllers work with the Apple TV if you have either lying around, so take a couple minutes to set that up. Once that’s done, do what you would do on Netflix and browse the Arcade marketplace until you find something cool. Sayonara Wild Hearts is a good starting point. It’s a sick rhythm game about speeding down neon highways on motorcycles that’s narrated by Queen Latifah.

By the way, if you already use Apple Arcade on another device, your save files will transfer to the Apple TV.

2. YouTube TV (or an equivalent of your choice)

YouTube TV is just one of many streaming alternatives to cable.

YouTube TV is just one of many streaming alternatives to cable.

Image: Omar Marques / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

We’re sure plenty of people out there still subscribe to cable and we respect that. Sure, it’s expensive, but it delivers the goods. For the rest of us, there are a bunch of (marginally) less expensive alternatives like YouTube TV, Sling, and Hulu with Live TV. If you subscribe to one of these, install it on your Apple TV immediately. If you don’t, most of them at least offer free trials so you can have a week’s worth of streaming fun before uninstalling the app.

This is important because these apps can change your Apple TV from a “sometimes” device into an “always” device. Folks who cut the cord can find solace here, as services like YouTube TV provide a similar amount of content without hidden installation fees and annual contracts. If you use one of these streaming services, your Apple TV basically becomes a more spiffy and useful cable box.

3. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc.

The Apple TV experience looks like this, but with a smaller remote with fewer buttons.

The Apple TV experience looks like this, but with a smaller remote with fewer buttons.

Image: Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto via Getty Images

We probably don’t even need to tell you to do this, but in your first visit to the Apple TV’s app store, make a beeline for all of the typical streaming services you might use. These can include:

And that’s just to name a few. But seriously, your brand new Apple TV probably doesn’t have any of those essential streaming services pre-installed on it. Considering that you more than likely bought the Apple TV to watch these services, go ahead and fix that for yourself.

(And if you need recommendations on what to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or any other streaming service, let our Streaming Guides help.)

4. Grubhub

Why order food from your phone when you could order it from your TV?

Why order food from your phone when you could order it from your TV?

Image: Getty Images / Tetra images RF / Aleksandr Kuzmin

Set-top boxes are for watching movies and TV shows, right? Yeah, most definitely. But Apple Arcade shows that we can occasionally do other fun things with them, too. Our next app on the list of Apple TV essentials can quite literally bring you dinner.

Yes, Grubhub is available on Apple TV. You might think it’s more convenient to just use a phone, tablet, or laptop to order delivery through Grubhub’s app. We can’t exactly say you’re wrong, but consider a scenario where multiple people are ordering meals at once. Normally, you’d have to ask someone to dictate exactly what they want so you can make the order for them. Alternatively, you’d just hand them your phone and make them do it themselves.

Neither of these solutions is ideal. Who knows what kinds of push notifications you might get while someone else is painstakingly ordering sushi from your phone? With Grubhub on your Apple TV, you can transfer this process from your private device to a large screen in your living room. You may feel decadent for ordering food from your television, but…yeah, you’re right. Still, give it a shot.

5. Apple TV with Apple TV+

Alright, fine, you got us: We can’t tell you to install an app that comes pre-installed on every Apple TV device. But you should still take a few minutes to scroll through the Apple TV app, because it does a little more than you might think. This may seem obvious since the app literally has the same name as the device we’re talking about today, but the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+ subscription is very handy to have around.

First, we’ll mention that this app isn’t just a home for original Apple content. There’s a whole built-in “Channels” system that lets you access content from a bunch of different services, like Showtime and CBS All Access, without installing separate apps for it. It’s a convenient home for a bunch of things you might subscribe to, or might be inclined to try out in free trial form.

But if you pay $4.99 per month (or $14.95 per month for Apple One), you get access to Apple TV+. This is Apple’s streaming service with a bunch of original shows and movies that might appeal to you. Throw on the Tom Hanks World War II vehicle Greyhound if you’re a dad—or you want to entertain a dad—for example. The world is your oyster.

An Apple TV is a versatile device, between its gaming capabilities, streaming options, and even utility services like ordering food. In order to get the most out of your new Apple TV, you really can’t go wrong with any of the apps listed above. Order a burrito bowl through Grubhub, throw on the Apple TV+ Beastie Boys Story documentary, and just go wild.





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