Not a WWDC Wish List

Apple TV is the best of streaming boxes, it is the worst of streaming boxes. After a flurry of changes early on it’s life it’s stayed kind of static. It’s more attractive in 2024 than it’s ever been mostly because competitors have junked up their streaming boxes to turn a profit with banners in the interface, auto-playing videos, and ads in their platform’s screensavers. Apple has resisted that (with one big exception being Apple TV+ promotion).

For a few years (2016, 2017, 2018) I wrote a specific post before WWDC about updates I was hoping to see for tvOS. These were never requests for those features to be built in a few days, but things I was hoping had already occurred to Apple, like the many years I put picture-in-picture on the list before it occurred to someone at Apple to ship it in 2020.

I stopped writing these posts because fewer and fewer updates were coming out for tvOS, in general, and those that were were often tied to new hardware launches usually occurring late in the Fall. The software changes were not always exclusive to new hardware, but from a marketing perspective it made it sound like the new hardware could do more stuff than the previous model.

There’s no reason to expect any announcements about tvOS, but perhaps Apple will highlight some more about Apple TV+ …at the developer conference.

That’s not to say that development on tvOS has stopped, but it’s definitely not in the spotlight. Last WWDC, there were virtually no user-facing features to mention other than the inconsequential updates to the default video player, and user profiles. I say inconsequential because —who’s using them?

Apple has the carrot and stick for new developer features, and on iOS and macOS they can wield both (mostly because they can kick your app out of the store, or they can say “no more 32-bit libraries”). On tvOS, they have no leverage because they have a small share of the media platform market. There’s no stick. Apple needs streamers to build for their platform so they can’t even enforce things like the player controls, which is why we all have Apple TV remotes with jog wheels that work in theory but not in practice. Every app I use with profiles still has their own profile system totally detached from tvOS user profiles, because they already built their profile system (and need it for more important platforms) so what incentive do they have?

The only big change in 2024 was halfway through December when Apple dumped tvOS 17.2 out for the public with its heavy changes to the Apple TV app, and Search that were half-baked. Presumably this was to meet some internal release target, and not because it was ready, as features were missing, search results were (are) wacky, the way you navigated TV shows you purchased got worse, etc. It was a messy, but large, update.

Knowing that it’s very unlikely we’ll see anything from Apple for the Apple TV this summer, I’ll offer a critique of where things are at instead, and offer some possible solutions ranging in complexity.

Regardless of internal shipping targets, fall hardware announcements, or week-before-Christmas-break releases. I’ve learned that predicting what Apple will do with the Apple TV is foolish, but these are definitely pain points.

Bear in mind that I’ll be repeating a lot of what I’ve said before.

TV App

The app still sucks butt. I’ve said it for years, even prior to 17.2, but the app’s purpose is to let people watch what they want to watch centered around media, rather than centered around apps. Apple feels like the app’s number one purpose is to get people to subscribe to, and watch, Apple TV+ -even if they subscribe to, and watch, Apple TV+ already.

Apple TV+

Opening the app, on a freshly updated system (not a new system, but just one where the software was updated!) will kick a user to the Apple TV+ section of the app. This makes it more important than any other function of the TV app, it’s saying this is numero uno.

If you’re not a current subscriber the first item in the carousel is “Come Back for New Apple Originals Don’t miss the star-studded stories being added every month.” I love alliteration as much as the next person (I’m not a monster), but this appeal just irks me further. Associating negative feelings with a service that by all measures has critically acclaimed shows.

My subscription is inactive, but it’s not because I forgot Apple TV+ existed. Such a thing is impossible to forget when you own Apple devices, every single one of them tasked with nagging you to subscribe. The TV app on iOS, the TV app on macOS, the TV app on iPadOS — at least you can’t watch TV on your Watch or it’d nag you there too!

I will resubscribe and watch things later. There aren’t enough hours in the day to watch everything, and my priorities are my own. When I do reactivate the subscription it won’t be because I saw Ted Lasso’s grin emblazoned across the interface. I don’t hate Ted Lasso! Apple is making me complain about seeing Ted Lasso! It should be a delight!


This was formerly “Watch Now” which was never a great name for that view in the app. It’ll make more sense when the home screen dies. Because just like everything else on the Apple TV, it’s name pollution all the way down.

Apple really messed up this area of the app over the years. The simple “Up Next” view is superseded by the same garbage carousel of auto-playing video every other streaming-centric platform has.

However, unlike other platforms, where that space is for rent to the highest bidder, Apple occupies nearly all of the carousel for the purpose of promoting Apple TV+ shows, movies, and MLS games. You’ll eventually see another show from someone other than Apple in the carousel, but the priority is always Apple.

The other thing about that carousel, that absolutely kills its utility, is that it highlights shows regardless of whether or not you’ve already watched them. Right now, as I type this, the first recommendation is for a MLS game that’s live, a thing I will never watch, and the second thing after that is Ted Lasso, a TV show that I have watched, and completed its run in May of 2023.

After the carousel, and the Up Next row, we have these rows:

  1. Free Apple TV+ Premieres
  2. Top Chart: Apple TV+
  3. Limited Time: Great Movies on Apple TV+
  4. Channels & Apps (this includes apps I already subscribe to!)
  5. Presumed Innocent: Premieres June 12 on Apple TV+ (You really loaded that one up, TV+ team.)
  6. Coming to Apple TV+ (more Presumed Innocent)
  7. Apple TV+ Come back now to watch new Apple Original shows and movies.
  8. Friday Night Baseball (Apple TV+)
  9. Movies Spotlight - Now playing on your channels and apps.
  10. Free Series Premieres - Watch without a subscription.
  11. Popular shows - On your channels and apps.
  12. New Shows and Movies - On your channels and apps.
  13. Celebrate Black Music Month - Watch music videos and more for free.
  14. For You - We think you’ll love these movies and shows. (User profiles)
  15. MLS Season Pass
  16. Sports (Some live)
  17. Top Chart: Movies to Buy or Rent
  18. Civil War (Currently in theaters buy or rent it now.)
  19. Celebrating Pride Month
  20. What We’re Watching
  21. Trending
  22. Looking for a Hilarious Sitcom?
  23. If You Like: Star Trek: Discovery
  24. If You Like: The Last Starfighter
  25. $4.99 Movies: Great Deals
  26. Browse by Collection (First collection is coincidentally “Great Movies on Apple TV+”)
  27. News (Live)
  28. Browse by Genre
  29. Recently Watched

So, That’s carousel, Up Next, and 29 discreet “rows” of stuff, that happen to be ordered with the first third of it about Apple TV+. The rest is a mix of incredibly generic stuff, and a few personalized options.

I’m pretty salty about this because personalized recommendations are more relevant than Apple TV+ but they’re de-prioritized and very limited in scope.


Several of the rows have collections —displayed as a tile in the interface alongside the shows and movies. The tile will take you to another view, usually with a clip-arty thumbnail and header, that’s showing rows of movies selected, and grouped by unseen humans with editorial context provided in the subheads for how the tiles are grouped. This is not personalization, but it offers something that’s deeper than the surface-level overviews offered in the Home view.

I’ll highlight “Pride 2024 Living!” because it’s pride month, so I’m shoving my homosexual Apple TV agenda down your throats.

This collection is unlike the year-round “Action” or similar genre collections way at the bottom of the Home view. The majority of the screen is taken over by Bottoms to “Buy, rent or watch on MGM+” but … it’s also on Prime Video, something people are far more likely to have than MGM+. That is disclosed if you click through, and then down to the How to Watch section. Neither view discloses that I already started watching this in Prime Video or shows a progress bar with that status (I’ll finish it later, get off my back!)

The other billboard-sized tiles are Love Lies Bleeding, RuPaul’s Drag Race (yes, all of it), and All of Us Strangers.

Below that are row after row of movies and shows that use the horizontal thumbnail, with text about the media placed to the right of the thumbnail, so only two thumbnails, and their respective text, are visible at a time per row. This isn’t really used in the Home view, and I can see why because it’s not as information dense, but it avoids people having to click through into each tile. Odds are pretty good that people might not have heard of many, or most of these.

Further down, in “LGBTQ+ Visibility for Kids”, they use another element that I have seen in the Home view on occasion, and revile, and that’s three larger thumbnails with 2-3 lines of tiny preview text placed vertically under each thumbnail. Both the thumbnail and the text count as navigable elements, with separate click targets. If you click the text it takes over the full screen to show you just that block of text. If you click on the thumbnail it takes you to the season-episode view of the show with the episode thumbnail given emphasis. You can click the thumbnail and it’ll start playing the episode, or you can go down to the preview text, which is not exactly the same as the preview text you were just looking at, and click on that to get the detailed information about the episode including what services it’s available to watch on. Why the preview text from the collection view can’t take you to the thorough episode info, I don’t know.

Why not present the thumbnail and text as one click target and take them directly to the episode info page instead of any intermediary step that looks the same but functions differently?

Of the two ways to present thumbnails and text I guess I prefer the horizontal ones.

Then at the bottom of the collection is a row of more collections called Deep Dives here.

I really appreciate the thoroughness of these kinds of collections, even if I don’t love how they are presented. While I complained about the presentation of “LGBTQ+ Visibility for Kids” I love that it’s there at all, and that someone was thoughtful enough to highlight specific episodes of TV shows.

It offers a choose-your-own-adventure way of browsing that is not tailored to you at all (like it’s unlikely that a lot of this stuff going to be from streamers you’re subscribed to), but you can drill down as much as you want to.

Where does this collection go when the Home view is reorganized next week? Where does it go at the end of the month when it’s no longer pride month? If I liked the selections made by the anonymous person(s) behind this?

I can’t even tell someone to go to this collection unless I describe navigating to it in the underworld of the Home view while it’s still June. You can’t ask Siri. “Hmm, I’m not findnig anything for ‘Pride 2024 Living’.”

This is not dissimilar to the fate of a lot of the playlists that are created for Apple Music, where they might as well not exist if they’re not featured in front of your face. These are all orphans adrift somewhere on a server and they don’t link to any kind of structure.

The genre collections “Action”, “Romance”, “Comedy” etc. all have collections inside of them too, but they seem to be organized around a sort of timeless agenda, rather than demarcating when the collection went up, or was updated. Which means that there’s nowhere to find the previous Pride Month collections, which are marked by year. Let alone year-round LGBTQ+ movies and shows beyond the LGBTQ+ Romances under the Romance collection, which stops after a handful of predictable suggestions before it’s just a sea of tiles of any LGBTQ+ romance (including the movie Bros which I would personally shoot every copy of into the sun.)

Why not recommend collections to people based on their viewing history, including the nested collections, and people could browse up or down from them? Like if I’ve seen movies in a collection, show me the deep dive that goes further as a tile right on my home page. If I watch gay shit, and zero soccer, put this year’s editorial collection of gay shit up higher than MLS Season Pass.

The most far-fetched thing would be to break down the editorial wall of these collections coming from some general-purpose board. Attach names (could be made up, to avoid harassment, I don’t care) where users can realize they like Sandra’s picks, and Sandra’s collections, or they don’t and they align with Brendan’s.

Personalize based on taste. You know, like the staff recommendations of a book store, or movie rental store, that this is attempting to imitate.

Great Movies on Apple TV+

This collection shows you great movies available to Apple TV+ subscribers, a new thing Apple started testing out where they’d pay a movie studio to stream a popular movie (what a concept). They do a pretty bad job at surfacing the movies relevant to you, specifically, you have to browse this as it was constructed for everyone with Apple TV+. It doesn’t tell you when a movie is leaving, unless you click on it to get to the info page for the movie.

You can browse the internet to find things to then go look for from those Apple TV+ limited releases. This is some real when is the super bowl level content but it’s not superfluous because it’s easier to look at a web page with the list of movies than it is to look at the collection on the Apple TV.

Explore Movies

There’s a special collection under Movies Spotlight, that’s not like the other hand-crafted collections. It has the capacity to show rows of “Recently Added Movies”, “Popular Movies”, and “Movies We Love” filtered by the channels and apps you’re subscribed to already. What a concept. You used to be able to get these kinds of rows awhile ago when the Home view was less devoted to Apple TV+ but I guess they ran out of room after the Apple TV+ prioritization and created Explore Movies for the overflow.

The only problem with that is it’s 10 rows down from the top. I bet a lot of people don’t even know it’s there, or that you can click on it, because they probably think it’s just a display tile of some kind saying, “Explore Movies” because sometimes the interface uses tiles as graphical elements.

It’s just those three rows that are filtered based on your subscriptions. The rest of the collection is an assortment of popular movies mostly by high-level genre containers. They don’t link to the genre collections from the bottom of the Home view though. This is completely different “Action” from the other “Action”.

Missing Personalization

I’ve watched a lot of stand-up comedy with my boyfriend, Jason, in the Netflix app (which is not part of the TV app experience) and in the HBO Max app, but the number of hours I’ve watched Star Trek: Discovery and the recency of watching The Last Starfighter from my media library, mean that those are weighted heavier than anything else.

The real problem is that I didn’t even know those were my current recommendations because they were buried in catacombs under a landfill of garbage.

I also wouldn’t seek out those personalized sections because like the rest of the interface it doesn’t really know what I’ve watched before if it was watched outside of an app that fed data to the TV app. For example: One of the recommended movies is Star Trek III: The Search for Spock which I have seen more than a handful of times, but I have no way to mark that movie as watched.

If I long-press on a movie or show, I have just two options: “Go to Movie” or “Add to Up Next”. There’s nothing on the “Go to Movie” page to mark the movie.

You might think “Oh just add it to Up Next, because you can mark a movie in Up Next as Watched.” You’re absolutely right, but keep in mind that geographically that queue is second-from-the-top. So You can swipe, or tap, all the way back up to the top, or hit “<“ then long press on it, then mark it watched, then go all the way back down (no button for that). How often do you want to do that?

If you go all the way back down the movie you marked as watched will still be in the recommendations. You have to force quit the TV app to refresh the list, but rest assured it will be missing after you completed that simple 78 step process.

For You

There is one row from the personalized rows that gets special treatment and that’s For You, which added a User Profile doohickey on the right side of the top of the row. So navigate to the For You row, then over three, then up one. Once you’ve entered that Konami code, the little thing will highlight with the words “Set Up” click on it for a modal screen explaining “Add or remove user profiles and get recommendations for everyone included.” Which is just about the worst copy.

You see, the first part of that sentence is targeted at the last button in the interface. If you already added all your user profiles, then it can be completely ignored. It should say “Get recommendations for the selected user profiles.” Then the profile selector, then “OK” and finally the “Add Users to Apple TV” button.

However, that’s all irrelevant, because Jason and I don’t always watch the same stuff on the Apple TV so I would never turn on a universal toggle that tied everything together. I need to be able to specify who is currently watching the TV. Jason has no interest in Scavengers Reign, Star Trek, or the movies I watch for the podcast.

If that didn’t make it irrelevant enough, none of the streamers hook into these user profiles. So if I wanted to include or exclude Scavengers Reign it’s immaterial. Either when it was on Max, or now that it’s currently in Netflix.

So functionally, the “For You” row is de facto for me, and for everyone using the Apple TV, but never tied to them.

Live TV

The row for “News” with news broadcasts that have a pink label saying “Live”. These are not specific to what you have installed on your device, they’re just possible sources for live news. So if you click on an news broadcast that you don’t have installed it will ask you to connect an app on your box (where you might no longer have an active subscription) or it will ask you to install an app.

So … it’s more that it’s theoretically live, and just those specific things someone selected (which includes Fox News). It does not connect to my DirecTV Stream app, or any other over the top (OTT) “cable like” provider. It doesn’t connect to any free ad supported TV (FAST) provider.

I mention all that because live sports are connected. If you click on a game that has a “live” sticker it’ll show a screen similar to a movie or TV show with a watch now button, and information about where it’s available (like DirecTV stream). It’ll open the app, “change the channel” to ESPN, and you’re off to the races baseball stadium.

What if you want to watch live TV that isn’t news or sports from the TV app? You’re shit out of luck.

Unscripted reality TV, game shows, channels that play Law & Order: SVU for 8 hours straight, are all unknown to the interface. We have had the technology for interactive programming guides for more than 30 years, and each OTT or FAST service has one, but there’s no unified programming guide that exists for Apple TV. You must go to each silo that offers live content and browse their programming guides individually.

I have been writing about interactive programming guides since 2016, before there even was a TV app. Back when we didn’t even have a dark mode in the interface.

Two years ago, Amazon revealed their unified programming guide for live TV, which funnels all of it together. I wrote about it here. I would hope that it occurred to someone at Apple that they should be working on this, but I have seen no indication that anything other than live sports is a priority.

Recently Watched

This is important enough that I feel like it needs its own section, probably in the side bar, if not Settings (where you can only clear your history in total). Recently Watched is really the wrong name, and it’s in the wrong place, and it has the wrong options.

It should be called “History” and it should be in the side bar (more on the side bar later). It should not be a single horizontal row that you scroll infinitely at the very bottom of the Home view.

When you long press on it you have three options: Go to Movie, add to Up Next, Remove from Recently Watched. Which are fine options, but it doesn’t display anything about when it was started or completed. If I want to know when I watched Scavengers Reign I’m out of luck.

A more robust solution can be found in YouTube, where there’s a very thorough and editable, list of what’s been watched. If Jason watched the NPR Tiny Desk Concert for Wicked, and now all my recommendations in YouTube are for pop-u-lar Wicked videos, I can quickly fix that.

Speaking of users, a missing option is to add or remove user profiles from the Recently Played items. You know, in the event the user profiles actually functioned for anything useful, then I could mark something as watched by Jason, myself, or the both of us.

Hit the “<“ in the TV app, or swipe/tap past the left edge of the screen, and you’ll get the side bar. Like I said it kicks you to the Apple TV+ section on occasion, but this is also where you find Home. Just like I wrote about back in November, it sucks.

  1. User Profile
  2. Search
  3. Home
  4. Apple TV+
  5. MLS Season Pass
  6. Sports
  7. Store
  8. Library
  9. Channels & Apps

Again, the priority is on things that Apple makes money from, not things you might necessarily be using. There is no way to reorder or remove Apple TV+, MLS Season Pass, Sports, Store, or Library. They are always there, as something you must swipe/tap past to get to Channels & Apps.

Channels & Apps has added exactly two features to help with organization — no, it’s not long-press and everything wiggles and you drag things up and down. You can hide an app, or you can “pin” a Channel or App.

“What’s pinning an app do?” You ask, because you obviously didn’t know that was event possible because only a mad man goes through every inch of the tvOS interface long-pressing on everything. Well, pinning creates another divider, between Channels & Apps and the alphabetically ordered channels and apps. The pinned item is placed there with the first pinned item in the number one spot, and any subsequently pinned items appearing underneath.

“At least hiding is pretty straight forward, right?” No. When you hide something a notification will briefly appear in the upper right corner explaining that the channel or app is hidden until you play something from it again. How do you do that if it’s not in the interface, you wonder, well you can go to your home screen, or search for something you know is in that app. There’s nothing in the byzantine Settings for this that I can find. No row at the bottom of the home screen for show hidden channels and apps. You just simply get a video to watch.

That also means that if you didn’t want Prime Video in the side bar, for example, because it’s not that useful to you there, and you want to browse the full app, then it’ll always be there. You’d have to rely on having other stuff that pushes Prime Video offscreen.

Channels & App Views

Again, I already wrote about this, but the interface for each channel and app is spartan. They all get a carousel of stuff. If there’s something you were watching on that channel or app you’ll get “Up Next on Max” where it has filtered the Up Next queue for just what’s in the app. That’s a nice, if somewhat useless touch. But then things go downhill fast with “Top Chart”. Man, give me more of “Top Chart” I love whatever’s popular without context or genre.

Things filter down through other rows that are both specific to each streamer, but also incredibly generic at the same time. These lists have no knowledge of what you’ve already watched. In Prime Video, for example, “Amazon Originals: Highlights” first recommendation is Rings of Power which I watched in its entirety. Amazon knows I watched it, and it’s own app won’t recommend that show to me. Apple TV knows I watched it because I can scroll back in my Recently Played (it was last year so this was fun to do). However the Prime Video view has no way to filter, no algorithm to recommend, nothing but the same recommendations for everyone.

I’ll reiterate that it makes anything in the Channels & Apps view useless to me, because this is objectively a worse experience for data even if it is laid out in a less aggressive way than Prime Video’s own app. I don’t want to browse “Top Chart”.

Unless you never want to browse, and you exclusively know what you want to watch before you turn on the TV, I would never recommend this kind of impersonal navigation experience.

I know people that subscribe to Paramount+ as a channel, because the Paramount+ app is buggy and awful (there were a couple weeks where if you paused the episode and then hit play, it would play the auto-playing episode preview audio from the app interface over the video you resumed and you had to exit the video. Just one particular example.) However, those people know they’re subscribing to watch a Star Trek show, and that’s all that they care about, and they’ll unsubscribe. That’s not a browsing mentality, and that’s fine, but a lot of people want to know what value a streamer offers, and a lot of streamers would like to tell you about how valuable they are to you specifically by recommending personalized content.


I don’t care what Apple needs to do to get Netflix to integrate with tvOS, and I don’t care, but whatever it is it’s past time to do it. A content recommendation system, and navigation system, that has nothing from Netflix only appeals to people that don’t have Netflix.

An example of how it hurts users is easy to find: That “LGBTQ+ Visibility for Kids” row in the collection highlighted TV shows that are available for kids to watch on Netflix, like Star Trek: Prodigy which used to be on Paramount+ before Shari started having money trouble. So it just shows people how to buy the episodes from Apple.

Apple, if people spend money they didn’t need to spend, or skip watching something because it was perceived as an extra expense, when they could watch that thing with a subscription they already had for free, they are not going to like your streaming platform, or your recommendations. That is not how you treat your customers, and saying that the onus is entirely upon Netflix so that you are excused from criticism is weak.

What’s the point of sifting through the current version of the TV app, or an improved version of the TV app, if it will be missing the biggest player in streaming?

The TV app was announced in June of 2016 for tvOS 10, and released in tvOS 10.1 late in the fall of 2016 making it almost as old as dark mode. The odds Netflix is going to reconsider doing anything, out of nowhere, unmotivated by any kind of incentive, are basically zero, so make it work.

Home Screen

The mess of the TV app is precisely why I primarily use the home screen on my Apple TVs. The TV button is remapped from the TV app to home screen. The way I interact with the TV app is:

  1. Settings -> Apps -> TV
  2. Up Next Display: Poster Art (no spoilers)
  3. Top Shelf Up Next
  4. Turn off anything related to sports.

Then when the TV app is in the top row (which it is by default) I can hover over it and get right to my Up Next queue from the home screen without having to deal with any Apple TV+ sales pitches, or the Apple TV+ carousel.

As you might guess from my thorough critique of the TV app, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

Having said all that, the home screen needs to go away and be replaced by a unified TV app that supports access to apps, and personalized TV show and movie recommendations. For that to be a success, the TV app needs to not suck.

Fire TV, which has both improved and degraded the user experience at a startling pace, has a top row in the interface that lets a person pin pieces of media, or whole apps. Instead of fully integrating with Netflix in their home screen view, and proceeding to fruitlessly fight with Netflix, people can pin the Netflix app right there. Things can be reordered too. Apps they seldom use can go in a junk drawer. Other rows have personalized recommendations that are just from Amazon, or mixed, or things that are free, or things that are for rent — but they’re all personalized to a degree. There’s still too much self promotion, and the terrible auto-playing carousel, etc.

There’s a solution out there, but it would require Apple to give up control over the TV app as a promotional tool for Apple TV+ to let users place other streamers in places that reflect the importance of the streamer to the specific user. Not everyone will want to put a Netflix button in the top of the TV app, but it’s going to be more than zero.


My opinion about the Apple TV as a gaming platform is unchanged from 2015. Talking about console quality graphics is meaningless when the platform isn’t a console. I know there are fans of gaming on Apple TV, and they play the assortment of iOS-ish games that are available. Every Apple Store I’ve been too recently has two Apple TVs each connected to its own TV and each with a single PS5 controller. The Apple TV still isn’t a PS5. It isn’t a Nintendo Switch. It isn’t an Xbox.

Through a combination of factors, including but not limited to persistent storage, and the lack of a game controller, it’s just not a games console.

If a hotel advertised that it had a pool, and you wanted to use a pool, then that’s great. If a hotel said that they let people bring their own above ground inflatable pool as long as it wasn’t too big, then surely someone would take them up on the offer but most people would merely use the hotel as a hotel.

Now I don’t need it to play games, so I want to stress that it has very little impact on me whether or not it’s good for gaming. I do care that games are one of the justifications for the two storage tiers for the device, and the the overall price of the hardware.


I’m in the camp of people that hates the new Settings app on macOS, so complaining about the relatively minor problems of the tvOS Settings app feels silly.

But I’m gonna do it anyway.

It’s biggest issue is, surprise, organization. Unless someone tells you where something is in Settings you might not find it for a while, or you might find it in multiple places. There is no voice or text Search for Settings, which is what we all fall back to when we try to find something in iOS or macOS.

Settings -> General -> Privacy & Security -> Apple TV Users. That’s where you go to turn on or off whether or not an app can access Apple TV users (the only one I have there is Hulu, and it’s an inactive subscription at the moment.)

Settings -> Users & Accounts is where you go to switch current user (also possible in Control Center or the top of the TV app sidebar). It allows you to specify a default user, add a user, specify a TV Provider, and Home Sharing. Each user account here has privacy and security settings that are not in the Privacy & Security settings screen, including things like iCloud and whether or not purchases require authorization, and the toggle for sharing user data isn’t here, it’s in the other place.

Turning off autoplaying video in the TV app isn’t under Settings -> Apps -> TV, it’s under Settings -> Accessibility -> Motion even though the major apps that have autoplaying video have their own ways of turning it off, so this ends up mostly just applying to Apple’s TV app, and people irked at that specific app might not assume to look here.

If you need to manage storage for some reason that’s General -> Usage -> Manage Storage, which just shows the apps organized by size and puts a trash can next to them implying you’ll delete the app. Click the can and it’ll ask if you want to delete the app, or offload the app but keep it’s data. That reduced the Reuters TV app (why the hell did I download that?) from 120 MB to 78 KB. It doesn’t offer a way to filter or rank the list by how often you use an item, or to automatically offload unused apps. It doesn’t even say how much available storage you have.

Apple’s only three options for Home stuff are the HomeKit pane in Privacy & Security, which will only have something in it if an app on the Apple TV has requested access to HomeKit data, and the AirPlay & HomeKit menu where the device’s “Room” can be changed and Home Hub can be toggled on and off.

Home Hub

For the Home Hub, which bridges device access, and routes automations, it sure doesn’t do very much for controlling your home. If you tap on power (remember all TV remotes on the planet earth turn off the TV when you do that, but not this one) then you get the Control Center, and you can navigate to the Home icon, which will show Scenes you can toggle on and off. Not a status board for you lights, or your thermometer or anything.

I can use the Siri button on the remote to turn on the living room light, and that works just fine, but I can’t use this to make sure I turned off the lights in my office. I need to use an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or teeny-tiny Watch making this the only Apple devices with a display that can’t show me a Home interface, and it’s supposed to be the brains of this operation.

There are two Apple TVs in my home, and both fight to dethrone the other for the role of controlling my home. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I can’t just enforce order. If the one in my office takes over the role, my Eve Weather devices fall off the network, and other weird, undiagnosable, un-bug-reportable stuff happens. I manually toggle it off of being a Home Hub for a minute and then the living room Apple TV takes back over. I don’t want to leave it excluded as a Home Hub, because what if the one in the living room goes offline (loses network connection, installs an auto-update).

Let me designate a primary, then the other Apple TV can briefly take over before passing the responsibility back to the good one so that some of the functions in the home still work. I know people with Home Pods have it so much worse with the random reshuffling, which just makes it all the more baffling that we’re still asking for this, begging for this, to come in one of these WWDC sessions.

Wish In One Hand

I’m not talking about putting a camera in the Apple TV to control your TV with hand gestures from across the room. I’m not suggesting anything sci-fi like adding a UWB chip to the Apple TV to geofence the specific living room area so when people brought their iPhones into it, and they had a user profile on that Apple TV, they’d have the the viewing history for that show or movie without having to do anything. I’m not asking for always-on voice control using any Apple device microphone in vicinity.

What I’m critiquing, and asking for, are solutions to the day to day inconveniences in a household which would not be solved by microphones, chips, and cameras. Pain points could be worsened by fancy new user profile stuff if user profiles stay exactly the same. If personalization remains less important than shilling Palm Royale.

Help us find shows from any streamer, not just Apple TV+, or movies that are for sale from Apple where there’s direct profit. When we want to browse, turn us lose on collections that align with our interests. If something is newly available on a streaming platform, and it might interest us, let us know.

If we are going to personalize our experience let us mark who’s watched something, and who hasn’t. Who has no interest in something, like let’s just say sports as an example. Let us organize the interface so what we’re likely to use is at our finger tips instead of buried.

Give us a place to aggregate all the linear TV we can watch from OTT or FAST. Let us pick and choose favorites from that.

That’s why this isn’t a “WWDC 2024 Wish List” where I’m setting some sort of impossible timer on my expectations. I know Apple’s not ready to do any of this. That they aren’t hungry to do any of this.

They ought to want it though, and you ought to want them to do it too.

2024-06-04 18:30:00

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