With its latest device, Apple has made one thing clear: TV isn’t just about shows and movies anymore, it’s about apps.
The new Apple TV, which went on sale Oct. 30, is Apple’s first set top box to come with its very own App Store. This means, in addition to watching Netflix and Hulu, users can play games, view cooking recipes, and follow workout routines all through the Apple TV. There’s also a redesigned interface and revamped remote control that make using the Apple TV feel much more like using an iPhone or iPad.
The 2015 Apple TV is still new, so apps are likely to become even more useful and polished over time. And yet, a significant number of developers have created apps and games specifically designed for the new gadget. Besides the standard cord-cutting apps, here are a few picks from the new App Store that are definitely worth checking out first:
Madefire’s comic-reading app for the Apple TV is more than just a way to browse comics on the big screen—it gives comics a new vitality. The app adds music, subtle movements, and dramatic sound effects to each pane that fit with the story, making sketches and dialogue feel more lively. It’s an impressive and immersive new way to read comics.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Fitness apps on Apple’s new gadget work similarly to Nintendo’s Wii, which U let users easily follow workouts on their television. Zova, for example, allows Apple TV owners to browse through various types of workouts, including yoga, abdominal exercises, and the like. There’s also a category for types of exercises that are easy to perform in a small space such as an apartment. It certainly beats viewing exercise routines on a 5-inch smartphone screen or streaming them via YouTube on a laptop.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
Geometry Wars has been popular on smartphones, tablets, and consoles for years, but it’s a great game to try out the new Apple TV. It works particularly well with the remote’s touch controls—better in some ways than on an iPhone even. In the game, players fire at their enemies while constantly moving around a spherical board to evade them. The game mechanics for Geometry Wars on the Apple TV are so fluid it's possible to play the game by simply moving your thumb around the touchpad. On a smartphone, players need two thumbs to play, and resting those fingers on the screen sometimes blocks you from seeing nearby foes.
Rayman Adventures is an amusing side-scroller—it's like Mario with more whismy. The ultimate goal is to rescue the character's fuzzy companions, known as Incrediballs, trapped through each stage. Although there’s a slight learning curve with the Apple TV’s remote for those who may be used to playing on a smartphone touchscreen, the controls in Rayman Adventures work smoothly. A simple tap on the touchpad commands the character to jump, while swiping forward prompts it to attack. The art design of Rayman are gorgeous and mesmerizing, too.
Yummly is a recipe app that crowdsources popular dishes from around the web and displays them all in one place. That means users can pull up mouth-watering recipes on the TV rather than scrolling through instructions on a small smartphone. This can be particularly useful if there’s a TV in the kitchen or nearby living room that’s easy to glance at while prepping food.
Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore Rising
Manticore Rising is an example of how the motion sensor in the Apple TV remote can be used to control vehicles in games, which in this game happens to be spacecrafts. Throughout the game, players guide the main character’s ship through space while evading and firing at enemies. It’s one game for the Apple TV in which steering is actually done well, making it easy to control the ship.
Those looking to book their next vacation or weekend getaway can now browse properties on a giant TV screen rather than a tiny smartphone. The Airbnb app for Apple TV displays gigantic, high-resolution photos of houses, apartments, and other living spaces available to rent through the service. The app feels fluent to use, too— simply flicking up or down on the remote’s touchpad allows users to scroll through photo galleries of spaces around the world.
Oceanhorn is a visually enticing adventure game similar to Nintendo’s Zelda series. Players explore the landscape by moving a finger around on the Apple TV remote’s touchpad; similar to the way a joystick works. Throughout the game, players fight monsters, solve puzzles, and use magic. This is another title that has already achieved popularity on the iPhone and iPad but works particularly well on the Apple TV.
QVC’s app for the Apple TV is exciting because it gives the viewer an opportunity to interact with live television. For instance, shoppers can buy items through the app’s "Speed Buy" button while a live program is playing. It’s excellent for avid shoppers that want an easier way to quickly purchase items from their couch. What’s even more interesting, however, are the possibilities this opens up for future Apple TV apps and channels. Imagine being able to instantly give your feedback during a live political debate or vote for your favorite cast member on a reality show with one click.
Lumino City is a game that’s just as fun to watch as it is to actually play. It’s a puzzle game with dazzling graphics. Each stage was hand-crafted from paper, and there’s an intricate level of detail in each scene. This makes solving puzzles all the more challenging since players have to carefully observe elements in the game’s environment. Lumino City was already a smash hit on mobile, but viewing the game’s stunning world on an even larger screen makes it much more enjoyable.