If Santa (or maybe your hard-working, thoughtful spouse) brightened your holiday with Apple’s fourth-generation set-top box this year, you’ve got a big surprise in store for you. Not only can you watch your favorite movies and television shows from such apps as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go, but Apple TV 4 has also been updated with its own App Store full of interesting content for your big screen.
If you just unwrapped a new Apple TV and are wondering where to start, we’ve created a list of the 10 best apps and games for new users.
Two years ago, this console-quality game dropped on iOS and became a favorite of fans of adventure games like Legend of Zelda. It was also first on the scene to be updated with ATV 4 support. It plays just as well on the big screen as it ever did on the smaller ones. The game has iCloud support, too. So, if you haven’t completed it already on iOS, you can pick up where you left off on tvOS. It has MFi support, which makes the game truly a console marvel for Apple. However, it works perfectly well with the touch pad on the Siri remote, so if Santa forgot to bring you a third-party controller, you can still have fun. This game is available for $4.99.
If you don’t already know about 500px, it is sort of like Instagram, but for really good, beautiful, professional quality photos. You probably won’t be seeing pictures of feet or food or someone’s cat in a funny costume here. The new Apple TV version curates the best photos in the website’s featured galleries. Slideshows are themed by such topics as Bridges of the World, City Lights, and Vanagon Life. Pick a gallery to start a slideshow and it will automatically scroll through content and repeat once it reaches the end. To find out more about a picture, click on it for additional information. This app is available for free.
For a Wii-like bowling experience on ATV 4, Strike! is the perfect download. You can play with up to three additional friends and it features a number of different types of bowling missions, like the Mega Lane mini game, Ten Pin Taster, and a bunch of classics that involve knocking down splits and picking up spares. For the ATV 4 version, players use the Siri remote as a motion controller and swing away at the frames. You can even get a nice spin on the ball when you twist your wrist on the upswing. Search for Strike! in the Apple TV App Store to download it for free.
Smule has made a name for itself as a mobile karaoke app for iOS. The company recently added support for the new Apple TV, so you can turn your living room into amateur night at the discotheque. That is to say, you can sing along with thousands of top hits from the Smule songbook. As the song plays, the lyrics appear on screen to help you along. You can even sing songs together with other Smule users around the world. You don’t even need a karaoke microphone to enjoy the fun. Everyone in the room can sing along using their iPhone as a mic. This app is available for free.
When Asphalt 8 first offered support for Apple TV mirroring, we were all on that bandwagon, playing the game on our big screen, using our iPhone as the controller. However, it always had this issue with lag. It wasn’t that bad, but it was there. Now, with the new Apple TV you can play the game as it should be, with no lag. Yes, you can even use the Siri remote as a controller. Although the game isn’t perfect, it is the best racing game available on ATV 4 right now, and a good choice if you really want to put your pedal to the metal. This game is available for free.
YouTube can really be a time sucker. You end up deep down a rabbit hole of hilarious cat videos, or drunken college kids making food, and suddenly, it’s 2:00 a.m. and you don’t even remember what happened. You can also participate in the brain cell killing adventure of user-uploaded videos on the fourth-generation Apple TV. It has a great looking interface and a useful side menu to help you explore new content, or access your personal subscriptions. The main page propagates suggestions for you based on your past viewing, as well as recent uploads from channels you follow. This app is available for free.
Even though Apple Music offers a great way to listen to streaming music on the new Apple TV, there are still a number of other ways to play radio-style tunes. Pandora is one of the first to have offered a free music streaming service on the Internet, and some of us have meticulously crafted our playback stations to perfect suit our moods. Luckily, you can unlock the power of the Music Genome Project. The app features attractive-looking album art for songs and channels and you can skip songs, as well as hone your station by liking or disliking a track. You can choose from premade stations, visit your account, or create a new station from scratch and see where it takes you. This app is available for free.
This spatial reasoning puzzle game was beautiful enough on iOS and now that it has been updated to support the new Apple TV, you can sit back and relax while creating 3-D images in television style HD. The goal is to make an image in the shadows by rotating a group of seemingly random shapes. Twist, turn, and flip every piece until you can see its shape appear in the background shadow. The goal is to complete the puzzle as fast as possible. But the secondary objective is to discover another hidden image in the shadows. This game is available for $2.99.
Another hit game to make it to the new Apple TV right after the set-top box was released. It was previously playing on older Apple TV units thanks to Airplay, but experienced that well-known lag that happens with mirroring content from your mobile device. With support for ATV 4, players can race down the beautifully designed, procedurally generated, snowcapped landscapes, doing tricks and jumps like a pro with just the touch of the Siri remote. There are 180 missions to complete to keep you coming back for more. This game is on sale for $0.99.
I know, it sounds cliché, but you’d be surprised at how comforting a fireplace is on your television set, especially if you don’t have access to one in real life. There are dozens of fireplace apps on the Apple TV App Store, but we like this one by Toughturtle the most because it provides a wide variety of styles without requiring an in-app purchase. It features a looping soundtrack of the sound of a crackling fire. But, you can also add holiday music from within the app, or add tracks from your music library. This app is available for $0.99.
Welcome to the world of Apple TV. Hopefully, you’ll find the apps and games you’ve always wanted on your TV set. If the content seems overwhelming, just grab the 10 apps above (as well as Netflix and Hulu, of course) to get you started.