How Does the Apple TV Work? | MakeUseOf

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The last time we moved, the previous owners left an Apple TV box behind. It sat in a closet for months because we didn’t have a clue what it was or how it worked. Now, years later, I’m not sure how we ever lived without it.

Apple TV Box and Remote

If you’ve got an Apple TV box and you’re not sure what to do with it, or 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. This means, when you connect the box to your TV or monitor with an HDMI cable (not included), you can stream content through the internet to your display. To be clear, 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’ll need subscriptions to watch the most popular movies and TV shows. While you can download and store apps on new Apple TV models, you can’t download and store content.

Companies like Netflix, Apple, and Disney store their content on company servers. When you access it, their servers send the content to you a little bit at a time. If you have a reliable internet connection, you’ll receive that data and be able to watch or listen immediately. Sometimes, if your internet connection is a bit slow, your content may pause as you wait for the data to come through.

Setting Up Your Apple TV Is Easy

Apple TV Back of Box

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

When it’s time to set up your device, you’ll need to have an Apple ID. If you already use other Apple products, you’re good to go. If you’re not an Apple user already, you can set up an account right from the device.

Then you’ll be able to download your favorite apps to your Apple TV and start enjoying the content.

Your Apple TV Remote

Apple TV Remote

Use the glass touchpad at the top of the remote to swipe through menus and click to make selections. Holding the touchpad down at the sides will allow you to fast-forward and rewind programs.

If the touchpad seems a bit too sensitive, you can change the sensitivity by going into the Apple TV Settings. Select Remotes and Devices > Touch Surface Tracking, then Select your desired speed.

The Menu button will wake up your Apple TV if it’s sleeping and bring up a list of available apps, the ones that came preloaded and the apps you’ve downloaded.

The Home button (the one that looks like a tv) will take you directly to the Apple TV home page where you can buy or rent content or watch previously purchased content from your library. If you hold down the Home button, you can put your device to sleep.

When you are watching content, use the Play/Pause button to start and stop streaming. You can easily adjust your sound with Volume Control (+/-) buttons and use the Microphone button for voice recognition features. You can ask Siri to find shows for you and dictate your choices into search boxes directly. You may not have voice recognition options if you have an older Apple TV model.

What Can You Do with an Apple TV?

Once you’ve set up your Apple TV, you can access streaming video from all over the internet. And you can do so much more than watch movies. Here’s how Apple TV works.

You can:

  • Watch free content. There is a lot of free content available without paying a dime. Some examples are YouTube, Tubi, PopcornFlix, Newsy, and Ted.
  • Watch subscription content. If you pay for services from the big players like Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Amazon, you can watch them on Apple TV.
  • Watch network content. For example, if you already subscribe to cable or satellite services, NBC, TSN, or the Hallmark Channel.
  • Listen. There are music, meditations, podcasts, and more. This is a great option for music lovers, especially if you have a surround sound system on your television.
  • Play Games. You can subscribe to the Apple Arcade for about $5 per month. There is also plenty of fun, free games to download in the App Store.
  • Access Your iTunes Account. If you’ve already been using Apple products, chances are you’ve purchased music or movies. You can watch these from your Apple TV library. Of course, you can also view your personal content, such as photos and videos on your tv.
  • 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 these devices to your television, using your Wi-Fi and AirPlay software on your device. This makes it easy to share content on a large screen.

Currently, when you purchase an Apple TV, it comes with about 100 pre-loaded apps. If that’s not enough, you can choose from thousands more in the App Store. That gives you loads of content to listen to, watch, and play.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll pick up tips for using your Apple TV more efficiently and personalize it to your needs.

Is Apple TV Worth the Cost?

Now that you know how Apple TV works, you need to decide if it’s worth the investment. There are several less expensive alternatives like Chromecast, Amazon Firestick, and Roku that allow you to stream your favorite content.

When comparing Apple TV to other devices that do the same thing, the cost is the biggest factor. Apple TV definitely costs the most, but it’s got 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 the best choice. Otherwise, a less expensive option may work as well or better for you.

Want one more tip? If you collect Airmiles or belong to other incentive programs, watch for Apple TVs in their reward offerings.

apple-tv-on-fire-tv-devices-2

The Apple TV App Is Now Available on Fire TV Sticks

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

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