Buying an Apple TV has been one of my best home purchase decisions. It gives you access to an impressive amount of TV shows, movies, and videos, whether or not you have a cable or satellite subscription. On top of that, it turns your TV into a full-featured entertainment center. It’s easy to use, too.
Now, 4K TV owners can get content optimized for all those extra pixels, too, with the recently launched Apple TV 4K. Besides a handful of entertainment-related apps such as iTunes and Netflix, it may take some time for your favorites to upgrade their content to 4K.
That’s OK, though. There are some truly useful, well-designed apps you can grab, no matter your screen’s resolution or your budget. (And there are others you’re better off ignoring.) Below are some of our favorite Apple TV apps across a variety of different categories.
Apple TV apps: News & Weather
Catch up on the day’s most important headlines—your way.
1. Haystack TV News (Free)
If you’re less concerned with where your news comes from and care more about what it’s about, give Haystack TV News a try. You customize the app with the categories you’re most interested in (world news, science and tech, movies, and sports, for example), and the app curates videos to you’re liking. It offers a variety of videos from a variety of sources—including local news channels, depending on where you live—and learns from your preferences over time.
2. Forecast Bar for TV (Free)
Forecast Bar delivers up-to-the-minute weather and precipitation forecasts in a detailed yet easy-to-scan interface. While the information is useful, the app takes advantage of your TV screen by displaying a beautiful, “live” image in the background depicting clouds, sunny skies, and other conditions.
Reuters TV: Video News (Free)
Reuters’ Apple TV app will suit your needs if you prefer to watch your news, rather than read it, and if you prefer catching up on current events around the world, rather than just what’s happening stateside.
Apple TV apps: Educational
These apps can help whether you’re looking to teach yourself some new professional skills, want to learn more about our world or have kids in the house.
3. NASA (Free)
With NASA’s app, you can explore space right from your living room. You can watch NASA livestreams, browse more than 15,000 images, check out satellite maps, and learn the latest NASA-related news.
4. Lynda.com (Free)
Lynda.com’s app includes a library of video tutorials on a broad variety of subjects, from Photoshop skills to online marketing fundamentals. Sit back, relax, and teach yourself something new each day from this LinkedIn-owned learning resource.
5. iBooks Storytime (Free)
For a different take on the bedtime story, families with young children should check out iBooks Storytime. The app offers read aloud narration and onscreen illustrations in each of its handpicked titles. When your kiddo wants one more bedtime story, but you can’t keep your eyes open, this could be just the thing.
Apple TV apps: Sports
There are apps for just about every sport you can imagine, offering content with or without a cable subscription.
6. ESPN (Free)
The latest version of ESPN’s Apple TV app lets you stream up to four simultaneously games at once—perfect for a household with divided college football allegiances. Right now, you still need a cable subscription to take advantage of the app, but ESPN is reportedly working on a standalone subscription service to debut later this year.
7. Sling TV (Free)
For as low as $20 a month, Sling TV gets you more than 30 different basic and cable channels, without a cable subscription. With its “blue” package, you get access to Fox, NBC, the NFL network, and regional sports broadcasts.
Best Apple TV apps: Movies & TV
For several of these apps, the download is free but you will have to pay for a monthly subscription (but chances are you knew that already).
8. Netflix (Free)
Netflix is a must-have on Apple TV, with exclusive original series such as Orange Is the New Black and GLOW, as well as binge-worthy old TV favorites such as The Office, and a changing selection of movies. The interface is dangerously easy to use, and Netflix has an uncanny ability to surface new titles you’d be interested in watching. It also offers video in 4K, for owners of the new Apple TV 4K. It did just up its subscription prices, though.
9. HBO Now/HBO Go (Free)
You’d be remiss to not be able to browse your favorite YouTube channels on the big(ger) screen. Especially useful: You can use the Apple TV’s Siri remote to speak your search words, rather than tediously typing them out.
11. Hulu (Free)
Apple TV apps : Games
Who needs a console when you’ve got an Apple TV? Like in the iOS App Store however, the best games don’t come for free.
12. Sonic the Hedgehog ($2.99)
Now you can play this classic ’90s title cartridge-free on your iOS device or Apple TV. You can play this remastered version of the classic SEGA Genesis game using the Apple TV’s included remote, but you may have more fun if you purchase a third-party controller to play with instead.
13. Leo’s Fortune ($4.99)
Winner of an Apple Design Award, this imaginative game follows Leopold the Golden, a wealthy, fuzzy blue ball character, as he tries to find the gold a thief stole from him. With gorgeous, detailed imagery, Leo’s fantastical, adventure-filled journey is begging to be played on the big screen. (For a full review of this game, head over to Couch Games Reviews.)
14. Badland/Badland 2 ($4.99)
Badland is an award-winning, highly-rated iOS game that you can also play on the big screen. In Badland and its similarly side-scrolling sequel, you must navigate your onscreen character through a strange, mystical forest, avoiding objects such as flamethrowers, frost, magma, and more.
Apple TV apps: Travel
Instead of browsing hotels and destinations on your tiny phone screen, gaze at gorgeous photos (and even make bookings) on your television.
15. Airbnb (Free)
When you’ve tired of trying to decide what to watch on Netflix, try browsing Airbnb‘s beautiful Apple TV app. Peruse beautiful photos from popular destinations and rentals. The experience is designed more around sparking wanderlust, or inspiring a trip, than for actual detail-oriented trip planning. However, you can still favorite rentals.
16. Kayak (Free)
If you would rather plan your whole getaway from your couch, head to Kayak. You can search featured destinations, or use the Siri remote to dictate where you’d like to travel. From there, you can search for flights and hotels. To complete purchases, you’ll need to head to the Kayak mobile app, though.
Apple TV apps: Health & Fitness
You can get in shape in your living room for a fraction of the price of a trainer or gym membership. It’s perfect for those days when you want to do something… but don’t want to change out of your pajamas.
17. Stryve (Free)
Stryve is like a personal trainer for the living room. This app asks you a few questions about your fitness level and goals and then customizes a series of videos to form your own personally-tailored workout. While the download is free, you will need to purchase a monthly or yearly subscription.
18. Runtastic Results (Free)
After a fitness assessment, Runtastic’s Results app gives you a 12-week training plan compiled from the app’s library of more than 180 bodyweight exercises. The app also lets you track your progress in photos, offers health and nutrition tips, and lets you start workouts from your Apple Watch if you have one. A subscription costs $9.99 per month or discounted at $49.99 per year.
Apple TV apps: Food
You can use your Apple TV to inspire yourself to whip up something other than Seamless.
19. ChefsFeed (Free)
If you care not just about delicious recipes but also the stories behind some of the world’s leading chefs and kitchens, check out ChefsFeed. The app features hundreds of tales from deep inside the culinary industry. It’ll give you a whole new appreciation for good food.
20. Kitchen Stories (Free)
Winner of a 2017 Apple design award, Kitchen Stories is a visual smorgasbord of delicious recipes and kitchen how-to videos. For recipes, you get step-by-step photo instructions so you can follow along at your own pace. The app adds new recipes and how-to’s every week and can generate a shopping list of ingredients you need when you decide you want to make a particular meal.