The days of cable television are numbered. The stronghold cable has long held over the tube is slipping, thanks to streaming services like Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, etc. The advent of new functionalities in our television platforms have changed the way we think of TV. No longer is the tube merely a hub around which to gather and alongside your deco-style family, drinking frosty chocolate milkshakes and happy meals. Things have changed since the days of bug antenna and Indian-head test cards. Things have gotten, well, smarter.
Apple’s digital media console, called Apple TV, marked a revolutionary advance in television when it arrived in 2007. Since then, a monumental shift has taken television to the place it is today. Remember the days of “there’s an app for that?” Well, as incessant as that slogan was, they weren’t lying – and that fact has transferred from smartphones to tablets all the way to the inviolate centerpieces of American existence for the last hundred years, our dear old uncle Telly. But that avuncular extra family member is now far more. The Apple TV is more HAL than Rosie Jetson (though so far, so good). Apple TV has multitudinous capabilities beyond the primary function of entertaining. It’s a personal trainer, a library, a security system, a personal chef (well, soux chef at least). And there’s always potential for more. Get a glimpse of the bright, only slightly dystopic future, with this list of the best Apple TV apps in the app-store today.
First things traditionally come first. Above all else, a TV is meant to entertain. From the television shows we crave, to the constant stream of documentaries and feature films that color our evenings, television on Apple TV offers a variety and abundance of choice that amounts to an embarrassment of riches. Picking up just a few monthly subscriptions can give you a newfound freedom in tailoring your entertainment to your personal preferences. No longer are you a slave to big-TV! Break free from the shackles cast by the cable cabal with these streaming apps.
When Netflix arrived in 1997, no one knew just how disruptive it would be to television traditions. We’re lucky it was; thanks to Netflix breaking the mold, a host of new streaming services have emerged in the last decade, putting control in the user’s hands. Of course, we must pay tribute to the progenitor; plus, Netflix’s new focus on original content – like the mega-hits Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and Narcos – ensures that it’s still the go-to streaming service for quality entertainment.
A close second to Netflix is Amazon Prime. Prime often gets its hands on the newest award-winning and under-the-radar movies before other streaming services. It has it’s own set of beloved prime originals like The Grand Tour and The Man in the High Castle. If you have the Amazon Prime service, a bevy of free movies come along with the service; if not, the only downside is that you’ll have to pay to watch certain content.
The TV set is not just for entertainment, it’s also for keeping up to date with whatever lurid story is occupying the world of late. It’s important to have a solid news source, and Reuters TV is a great one for those who prefer not to engage with the 24-hour news cycle. In fact, it’s motto is: “TV news for people who no longer watch TV.” With content from more than 2,500 journalists in 200 locations, you can stay up to date at your own pace.
Tubi TV is a free television and movie app, with the best quality content from Paramount, Lionsgate, MGM, all free. Commercial breaks here and there are one of the very few drawbacks to this 100% free app, which also hosts a ton of obscure and hard-to-find TV shows and movies from the 80s and before.
For far too long, our consumption of weather information has been downright drab. At the same time, much of what an onscreen meteorologist has to say flies over my head. There must be a better, more interesting and interactive way to access the weather, outside of the traditional, Alamanac-like forecasts from our local weather men and women.
CARROT weather is a weather forecast with a bit of snark. A quippy and clever line accompanies its forecasts, which are illustrated by a cartoon-ish picture. A sunny day might elicit the line: “Make the best of the nice weather I have generated for you today. Or else.” Secret-location puzzles are also offered, so if you get the hints, you can find some really fun hidden gems through the CARROT app.
Weather Live offers the photorealistic images of what is really going on outside, so that you can most adequately prepare. Informative, comprehensive and illustrative, you won’t even need to look out the window if you’ve got this app.
Meteo Earth was developed using a global weather monitoring system that most professional meteorologists use. ME proffers a full view of the globe from space with accurate renderings of the weather systems moving through.
The Weather Channel
Some staples of traditional television have made the adaptation to the new Apple platform. The Weather Channel is one of them, producing this Free app for users. Trust TWC’s professional team of meteorologists to augur the skies for you.
Work Out Apps
Working out has never been a conventional activity for the TV room. The suggestion calls to mind images of ’80s girls in jazzercise gear and scrunchies doing high knees and flailing their arms in their living room at the exhortation of pseudo-gurus like Richard Simmons, the exercise equivalent of a televangelist, whose toll-free number would flash at the bottom of the screen for you to purchase the recording on VHS. It’s safe to say things have gotten better since then. These awesome apps below are a far cry from Tae-Bo.
A less flamboyant personal trainer than previous eras, the Streaks app is a straightforward way to get your training regimen hammered out. All doable at home, the exercises that Streaks teaches require no equipment to provide a great workout. No flailing involved.
Stryve takes the long-winded explanations that personal trainers sometimes deliver out of the exercise equation. Instead, it provides short videos and 3D demonstrations of exercises, so you can keep it varied and keep those muscles confused, and ever growing.
Fitbit is all about tracking. Not running on a track, but keeping track of everything you do on a daily basis, from walking, to workouts, to sleep. Not just about looking fit, fitbit is about general health, and making its user feel better. A smartphone is all that’s necessary to log your data in the Apple TV app.
Audio and visually, this is the closest thing to the aforementioned VHS workouts, but it’s a more modern and efficient take. Plus, there is a huge variety of workout programs with varying intentions – getting toned, getting more muscular, losing weight – offered by the Daily Burn. The DB offers cardio, HIIT, yoga, dance, pilates, meditation, and even post-natal workouts for whatever shape your life has put you in.
Cooking shows are beloved, and wonderfully instructive. But a function they could always benefit from was the ability to be controlled better. It’s hard to keep up with on-screen master chefs when they tell you to drop a glob of this and a dollop of that, barely pausing before moving onto the next step. These apps represent the future of cooking shows; apps that explain and entertain, but also interact with the user.
Panna is a recipient of an illustrious James Beard Award, given out annually for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education. With 600+ video lessons and dozens of online cooking classes made available to the user, amateur chefs can take lessons from some legends of the kitchen, including Daniel Boulud, Vivian Howard, Rick Bayless, Nancy Silverton and more.
Operating with the Ratatouille-esque mantra “anyone can cook,” Kitchen Stories sets up to illustratively teach the culinary arts to amateurs. Divided into thematic groups (“All-time classics”, “Pasta variations” or “20 Minute Dishes”) Kitchen Stories gives users the capacity to improve at and cook just what they want.
Food Network In The Kitchen
Like The Weather Channel, the Food Network saw the writing on the wall and made the leap to the new media platform. It’s got your favorite chefs like Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis, Ree Drummond, Bobby Flay and that frost-tipped rapscallion Guy Fieri. A quality resource for finding recipes.
Dine By Tasting Table
The only app on the list not catered to the amateur chef, but the professional eater. This application will hunt down the best restaurants in your area, find the hot new joints, and sift through the second-rate eateries for you to find the right place to fill up. With a social aspect a user can follow his or her friends and track where they’ve eaten. Dine by Tasting Table is kind of like the Spotify for dining out.
One good thing that television always offered was educational programming. Still, educational shows were generally relegated to the public broadcast stations, where it was hard to catch a program about something you might be interested in if it was lodged between Antiques Roadshow marathons. Of course, there was always The Learning Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and The History Channel. Until one by one, those shows capitulated to the apparent desires of the braindead masses and stopped showing educational shows, and began to show things like fake-shark documentaries, shows about 1400-pound humans and Pawn Stars (though the last two could be interchangeable). As it turns out, people still want to see educational programming, and Apple TV is the perfect venue for it because it relies on preference and doesn’t depend on targeting the lowest-common-denominator. As a result, the best video-learning services are available on Apple TV.
TED Talks began in 1984 as a symposium for some of the best minds to gather and share their ideas. When they started being offered online in 2006, their popularity exploded. Since then, TED Talks have collectively over one billion views. Finally, thanks to the TED Talks Apple TV application, they can be viewed on a proper television. Turn the boob-tube into an arena of intellectual development.
The NASA app offers some amazing insight into the lives of astronauts, engineers, and technology used by some of the most brilliant minds in the world. The featured section of this app lists all the modules NASA has created, offers history, videos and over 15,000 images of the incredible creations that The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has created in their 60 years of existence.
We all know how expensive higher education is today. The problem is there are few alternatives available for young people trying to get an education. While it might not be an out-and-out replacement, Coursera is an incredible program that allows users to learn valuable skills and trades, from Data Science to Engineering to Business to Literature. You can choose from 2,600+ courses in 11+ topics. An invaluable resource for self-education.
Solar Walk 2
It’s hard to imagine something so fun being educational, but that’s true about Solar Walk 2, the awesomely immersive space-travel app that allows you to learn about the celestial bodies of outer space. Rendering the planetary system around us in incredible detail, you’ll feel like a true sailor of the stars while you sit on a sofa in your living room.
No television experience would be complete without sports. Sports represent the bulk of TV programming for many Americans and fans around the world. (Yes, the educational stuff is great, but give me my damn Sunday football, grumble grumble). Thankfully, plenty of applications have made the transition to the smart TV platform.
With over 100 live channels available to stream instantly, Sling has got most of its bases covered. Not only does it have college basketball and the NBA, but it offers sports talk shows, if you like to constantly have the likes of Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Other hit TV shows like Fear the Walking Dead and Atlanta are available for viewing, too.
Fubo TV is for the football fan, and that includes fans of the European/South American/Pretty much everywhere outside of America sort. Covering NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, PGA, NASCAR, NFL, and plenty of futbol, Fubo also offers 10,000 hours of on-demand TV shows and movies and 30 hours of Cloud DVR to record the matches and games you miss.
ESPN is the self-declared “worldwide leader in sports.” That’s a monopoly that must be defended on all fronts. Thus, they threw their hat into the Smart TV-app ring, and the result is this app, which covers every score and offers plenty of video footage from games and matches. You can also stream live games, if those games are offered on ESPN’s online service. A solid app, though less comprehensive than its TV channel(s).
PGA Tour Live
While other sports come and go in explosive energy, golf holds steady. Of course, golf can be heated and intensely competitive; that’s why you need to pick up the PGA Tour Live streaming app, to follow the action as the best in the game battle it out at the Masters, US Open, British Open, and every other major tournament on the PGA tour.
It makes sense that the smart TV would integrate the technologies and applications offered by other pieces of tech in a comprehensive fashion. Integrating shopping apps into the television break the fourth wall, in a sense. No longer is the TV an entertainer, but a utility with which users can interact. Haven’t you always wanted to pick up your remote and order something – not some gaudy, matriarchal Topaz pendant – but something you actually want? Now you can, thanks to these apps.
Fancy gives users access to a variety of unique, crowdsourced goods. Create wishlists, find unique items; if you’re tired of idly watching a TV show or movie, get on Fancy and start making your Christmas list, or planning gifts for others. It’s a great way to find beautiful and unique gifts – for yourself or others.
GILT offers you the ability to Carpe Sale – to seize the sale. The app stays on top of sales, not just on designer products, but on unbelievable experiences that have experienced a sharp discount. For the contemporary coupon snipper.
Shopping for a new home has never been easier with the Zillow app. If you’re using an Apple TV to do it, hopefully you already have some kind of residence. But the Zillow app provides an excellent resource to keep your home search heading in the right direction.
Last but not least, is that shopping giant that has likely gotten its coils wrapped around all of us deeply. After much anticipation, Amazon has finally made it onto Apple TV, and the result is ultimate, comprehensive convenience for shoppers. Better than any QVC or Home Shopping Network can offer, check everything off your to-buy list – from toilet paper to groceries – from your living room. The only potential drawback is that a prime membership is required to make a purchase on your TV. But you’ve got to pay Bezos’ toll if you want to make it in this world.
The first popular apps on apple products were games. From Temple Run to Flappy Bird To Angry Birds to Tiny Wings (for some reason a big avian motif infused a ton of popular games). And while the Apple TV games might not ever surpass the games playable on pure video game consoles, there is plenty of fun to be had on the Apple TV.
This futuristic driving game will put you in the seat of a jet-engined hyper-hovercar reminiscent of young Anakin’s pod racer. With awesome graphics, easy controls (just use your Apple TV remote) and universal compatibility, meaning you can take it with you on a portable device, AG Drive is an awesome racing game.
While it may never have the graphical prowess or sheer power of an Xbox or PS4, the Apple TV is the perfect platform for party games. Imagine sitting around the couch with your friends, cocktails in hand, passing the remote around the room frantically in a battle of wits. What could be more fun?
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Perhaps the realm in which Apple TV excels most when it comes to video games is the sphere in which other consoles can’t simply overpower it. Throwback, arcade style 8-bit games like Sonic The Hedge Hog are perfect for it. Rediscover SEGA’s Classic masterpiece on the Apple TV.
Minecraft: Apple TV Edition
Minecraft has made the leap to Apple TV, and the transition is seamless. Imagination, creativity, ardor – all of this is tested by the awesomely lo-fi construction game. As simple as it is, Minecraft and Apple TV are a match made in heaven.
Apple TV offers a lot of new ways to outfit your home intelligently. One of those ways is by securing it. Using the various smart security systems, cameras and pieces of technology, the Apple TV can become an excellent hub to keep yourself and your family safe.
Homecam, while allowing several simultaneous views of the inside and outside of your home, is not simply a surveillance system. It also monitors general health and safety issues, like temperature, humidity and air quality within and without your home, and adjust them accordingly. The application connects to HomeKit, a smart security software that organizes and aligns the security hardware that you already own.
The Alarm.com app allows you to monitor and control your home. You can set the preferences on your Apple TV, but if you have to run out the door, you can make adjustments from your mobile app. From the App, you may See what’s happening at your property, arm or disarm your security panel, watch live video feed and recorded clips from your security cameras, turn on or turn off lights, and more.
The Nest security system is among the most popular home security platforms on the market. Not only are the products Nest makes effective, but they’re attractive and well-designed. The Nest App does require Nest products (like the Nest Cam or Nest thermostat) to function, so that can be a drawback. However, it allows you to stay secure on every front, too – Nest offers all the smart tech you need, all of which can be connected to your Apple TV. Tech like: smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, Nest Cam IQ, Nest Cam Indoor, Nest Cam Outdoor, Nest Hello (smart doorbell and front camera), Nest x Yale Lock, and more.
DW Site Viewer
This is an app for a heavy duty security system that can cover big areas. Created with construction sites, warehouses and factories in mind, the DW Site Viewer app allows the user to view 1, 4, 9, or 16 camera views at once. It can also record in intervals of 1, 10 or 30 minutes, 1 hour or 1 day. This is a true professional app, built for true professionals.
Just For The Joy: Earthlapse 4K
It’s fitting that the last app on the list should encapsulate just how far we have come, technologically, as a species – and at the same time, offer some perspective on the vastness of the universe, yet unimpressed. Only in this future world of today can you enjoy your morning cup of coffee while looking down at the whole planet, through a 4K live feed direct from the International Space Station.
The 18 Best Apple Watch Apps
Trying to take the show on the road? Take a look at this list of the best Apple Watch Apps, and go mobile!
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