Skip to main content

The 10 best Apple TV apps to grab on day one (and honorable mentions)


After years of waiting, the Apple TV finally has its own App Store, and it’s already populated with a surprisingly large number of worthwhile apps and games. We’ve been testing them and looking to see what’s hot and not for day one Apple TV buyers, including some titles compatible with third-party Apple-authorized game controllers.

Here are 10 of our top early picks, plus some honorable mentions that you may want to grab anyway despite some early issues. There are even several games that support 3DTVs (which are now heavily discounted), a little-known feature of the new Apple TV…


1. Geometry Wars 3 Dimensions Evolved. If you want to show off the gaming potential of your new Apple TV, this is unquestionably the first thing you should download. Featuring the same killer electronica soundtrack and 3D vector graphics as the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac versions, Activision’s intense overhead shooter looks awesome on the new Apple TV. Better yet, the game works on both tvOS and iOS devices, so one purchase lets you cross-play, even carrying your saved games over through the cloud. Download it here.


2. Hulu. Although Netflix has the better overall content library right now, Hulu has a better day one Apple TV app, thanks to an interface that actually lets you dig down into its library in a familiar way. Hulu features numerous seasons worth of TV shows from major U.S. television networks, alongside a smaller collection of movies. If you’re looking to start enjoying all-you-can-watch streaming video, this is one of the two best places to start, though individual channel-specific apps (such as NBC, CBS, and FOX) are beginning to pop up with some overlapping content. A free trial is available to see if the service fits your needs. Download the app here.


3. Lumino City. If you prefer your games to be relaxing rather than intense, you’ll be blown away by the presentation of Lumino City by State of Play Games. Dreamy music and a highly original visual style turn a point-and-click adventure into a seemingly living diorama — the developer calls it a “handmade world,” noting that it was made with paper, cards, lights, and motors. Cartoony characters move through photorealistic and semi-realistic backdrops, as you use a circular cursor to guide Lumi through a city to find her kidnapped grandfather. It works across iOS devices and the Apple TV. Download it here.


4. Funny Or Die. Conspicuously absent from prior generations of the Apple TV, the Will Ferrell- and Adam McKay-developed collection of comedy videos is sometimes NSFW, but packed with funny content. Consider Zach Galifianakis’s entire Between Two Ferns series for a (brief) binge watch after grabbing this free app. Download it here.


5. Shoot The Zombirds. Perfectly timed for a Halloween debut on the Apple TV, this inexpensive, classic iOS shooter looks surprisingly beautiful on a large screen — and works across iOS and tvOS. You’re a pumpkin-headed archer trying to keep spooky birds from stealing baby pumpkins from a moonlit pumpkin patch, using the touch surface to fire arrows from the bow into as many birds at once as possible. It’s a fun, cheap game; download it here.


6. Netflix. Probably the single-best video content app on the Apple TV, Netflix is worth grabbing because of the sheer quantity of high-quality content amassed (and developed) by the service over the past few years. While the app is a bit underdeveloped on day one, lacking for some of the category search features it really needs, you can make your way through the library using text searches (and, if you’re lucky, Siri searches). Download it here.


7. Rayman Adventures. Staggering production values and all-age-appropriate content make this action-platforming game a must-see for gamers. Controlled simply using the Siri Remote — Rayman runs automatically, letting you control jumps, punches, and interactions with one button and directional swipes — a third-party game controller actually lets you take D-pad or analog stick control of Rayman’s movements. Aesthetically, this adaptation of the classic side-scroller looks and sounds just like a console game. It’ll do until deeper platformers are developed for tvOS; for now, it appears to be an Apple TV exclusive (with other versions apparently coming soon). Download it here.


8. Jetpack Joyride. Halfbrick’s classic one-button fly-and-dodge game has seen excellent updates and support since its release on iOS, and the Apple TV version is even better. Featuring the Back to the Future theme previously added to the iOS game, it starts with a familiar, rousing score that really makes great use of your TV’s speakers, and lets you live out your flying Delorean fantasties. Jetpack Joyride is an ideal introduction to casual gaming for the unfamiliar, and offers tons of fun (including costume and power-up customization) for free. Download it here.


9. YouTube. Visually sparing from an interface standpoint but loaded with free video content, YouTube has come a long way since Steve Jobs introduced it as an early third-party channel for the first-generation Apple TV. Untold quantities of professionally produced video now dominate the site, allowing you to watch everything from SNL skits to in-game videos to press conferences — at this point, accompanied by relatively painless advertising. Download it here.


10. Beat Sports. Debuted alongside the Apple TV, this Harmonix-developed combination of music rhythm gaming and sports is appropriate for all ages, and appears to have been built specifically for tvOS. Featuring music by Masaya Matsuura, one of the geniuses behind Sony’s breakthrough PlayStation rhythm game PaRappa the Rapper, it ably uses the Siri Remote’s motion and touch capabilities, and has the overall look and feel of a full-fledged console game. It’s notably not iOS-compatible, and can currently only be downloaded through the Apple TV, but a free companion app to use your iPhone or iPod touch for multi-player gameplay can be downloaded here.


Honorable Mention: Nanosaur 2: Hatchling. While this aged Mac game isn’t worthy of top 10 status, this 3D flying/shooting title merits a mention because Pangea Software added 3DTV support, spotlighting a little-known capability of the new Apple TV hardware. Nanosaur 2 runs fine on regular HDTVs as well, but supports 3D glasses if your TV does, via a settings screen. An epic soundtrack and smooth graphics help to make up for the regrettable lack of explanation as to how the game controls with the Siri Remote; be prepared for some early frustration trying to figure out how to fly. If you prefer walk-and-jump action, or overhead shooting, look at Pangea’s other titles (Bugdom 2, Otto Matic and Nucleus) instead. You can download Nanosaur 2 here.


Honorable Mention: Asphalt 8: Airborne. Gameloft’s iOS-dominating 3-D driving game may be years old at this point, but it continues to add content and features at an impressive clip. The Apple TV version (thankfully) features Bluetooth controller support (which you may find necessary after trying the Siri Remote), tons of unlockable content, impressive music, and detailed 3D graphics. Just be prepared for interminable loading times to grab an initial batch of tracks and new challenges, thanks to Apple’s 200MB initial app download limit. Download it here.


Honorable Mention: Words Galore! People love to find words hidden in a sea of letters. Digitalglen’s Words Galore! provides multiple skill levels ranging from beginner (for kids) to expert, with several different variations including timed and timer-less games. Easier levels stick with themes kids will like (animals), and you can choose between a bright UI or a dark mode that won’t light up your room. Use of the Siri Remote to select hidden words, particularly on diagonals, is a bit of a challenge.


Honorable Mention: 7 Minute TV Workout. Roman Shevtsov’s 7 Minute TV Workout cycles through 12 “scientifically proven exercises,” using the left side of the screen to play 30-second videos of a woman doing jumping jacks, plunges, squats, and other quick workouts, each ending with a brief “rest” before moving on to the next activity. The app includes a Progress Calendar and explanations of each of the exercises, referencing a New York Times article to suggest that the brief workout has positive health benefits, and can be repeated multiple times for a longer exercise cycle. While it’s a very early offering, it shows how the Apple TV with a large HDTV can evolve into a more compelling fitness tool than an iPhone or iPad.

More From This Author

Check out more of my editorials, How-To guides, and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users. I’ve recently discussed how to safely prepare and wipe your iPhone for resale or trade-in, and how to get the best iPhone trade-in price to help buy an iPhone 6s, amongst many other topics.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. daving313 - 7 years ago

    So does this mean apps are no longer pre-installed like on current tvOS? So for example, Netflix/Hulu/Youtube, etc. are all already built-in. In the new tvOS you have to download them?

    • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

      Yes, everything needs to be downloaded except Apple’s small suite of pre-installed apps.

      • iSRS - 7 years ago

        Thanks, that was my question.

        It there a CBS app?

      • daving313 - 7 years ago

        Good – like that much better than having to go and manually “hide” things.

      • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

        There are apps for pretty much all of the channels that were on the third-generation Apple TV (with a few exceptions). CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC are all on there.

    • lkrupp215 - 7 years ago

      Somebody on the Apple discussion forums is already asking how to remove apps they purchased.

      • Andrew O'Hara - 7 years ago

        You hold on them, then hit the play/pause button. It tells you that the first time you hold to move them like on iOS.

  2. iSRS - 7 years ago

    Here are what I hope (and assume) will be there

    HBO Now/Go
    Showtime (Anywhere)

    (considering cancelling hulu and using those three)
    WatchDisney (all three)
    NBC Sports

    Hope to see:
    Starz play
    encore play

    • iSRS - 7 years ago

      oh, an MTV for Scream the series

    • iSRS - 7 years ago

      looks like all my known and assumed are there. None of my Hope to see (AMC/Starz/encore/MTV) – plus a few others like my local Fox channel.

      • rri0189 - 7 years ago

        Starz is advertising for a Swift/iOS/tvOS developer. If I lived in Colorado, I’d be considering it.

  3. I was looking forward to this day when the new AppleTV would be available. But what I wanted was a compelling cord cutting device and this so far isn’t it. My current AppleTV does all the same things as for media content. I am not a gamer so that feature is not enough to make me a buyer. The new Siri Remote with voice could be helpful but without the new media I was hoping for it still isn’t enough. I expect Apple will wind up with a content deal from the major networks and movie studios and then the new device will become a must have, so I will have to wait for that day….

  4. João Nunes - 7 years ago

    how do you download the apps? my appstore isnt showing. And via siri search i cant download too.

    • wdm6502 - 7 years ago

      Do you have a developer Apple TV? You need to restore from iTunes (it should download the latest image which has the App Store).

    • Liviu Romascanu - 7 years ago

      Your’e on the developer beta / GM. Download the release version from the apple site , connect the device to itunes and restore it.

  5. Philippe Conway - 7 years ago

    No Amazon Video app?

  6. Bryan - 7 years ago

    does sling tv, or any cable providers have an app

    • iSRS - 7 years ago

      Another site has a video showing all the available apps. Didn’t see any yet. I’m sure they will.

  7. Can you download AppleTV apps or Purchase AppleTV apps without an AppleTV?
    I am not sure when i will get it but if there is an App Sale, I’d like to take part in that for newly released titles.

  8. Jeff Bowen - 7 years ago

    If you’ve got elementary school-aged kids, download GoNoodle on your Apple TV. It features videos that get kids dancing, jumping, running, doing yoga, and more (not sitting in front of the TV). The GoNoodle web app is already used in 75% of U.S. elementary school so there’s a good chance your kids are already familiar with it. Just ask them if they know “Pop See Ko”, one of the most popular videos. Disclaimer, I helped build the app. Hoping to spread the word as I’m wondering how quickly people will discover it since there are not yet categories to browse by on the Apple TV App Store.

    • stevelawrence - 7 years ago

      My son LOVES Go Noodle. Until now, he’s been Airplaying it to our ATV 3 from my Mac. His head will explode if I tell him there’s an app on the new ATV. Great product!

  9. Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

    The UK App Store is barely worth the bother at present. No Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, All4, ITV Player, MUBI, Demand 5, Animax, Viewster, or even Now TV (despite it apparently being a launch app and is even featured as such on Apple’s web site).

    Also very disappointed with the YouTube and Crunchyroll apps, which are visually so incredibly basic as to look like some sort of pre-alpha test versions before the UI artists got to work. Stunningly ugly.

    Also, how to Apple expect people to find apps, if they exist? If an app isn’t on the featured section then unless you happen to know what it’s called and can enter a manual search for it, then you’ll never find anything. Discoverability is basically zero. There isn’t even a way to get a list of all the video apps available. How did this get past QA? It’s a total train wreck.

    This feels like a product which is nowhere near ready for release. Siri can’t even search the App Store and has mysteriously lost his voice too. Very, very odd.

    • iSRS - 7 years ago

      I don’t disagree with you. This feels like a “we need this ready by Christmas 2015. The rest can be improved with software. It really feels like the original iPhone and App Store launches.

    • ericisking - 7 years ago

      I didn’t realise NowTV was missing – wow, that’s a big one; definitely won’t be replacing my old Apple TV yet – NowTV is the app I use the most. Hope they fix it before the next series of Game of Thrones.

    • Roger Killion - 7 years ago

      I agree that the interface needs improvement but we all know it will improve. If you don’t want to “explore” the new device until it’s easier to use, that choice is yours. Personally, I’m really enjoying exploring the options. How do I do that? Go to the App Store, choose “Search” from the top menu and enter the letter “a,” which brings up every app title that has an “a” in it, which equated to 75 apps. Archaic, for sure, but not the first time I’ve used this strategy to get fuller listings from a search system. Do the same with all the alphabets and you’ll probably find all the apps currently available. Again, this is only a short-term solution until Apple gets the app store’s listings fixed.

      • iSRS - 7 years ago

        Another iBlog (hint) did exactly that and captured it on video. Allowed me to browse before I get mine.

  10. Andrew Parker - 7 years ago

    I live overseas, so it would be helpful to know which of these can be viewed outside the U.S. ,or if I’ll be able to set up the New Apple TV with a VPN.

    • Salvo Daze - 7 years ago

      I do too and yes you can set it up with DNS. You just need to create an American Apple ID to download apps like Netflix from the US App Store. You can find more information on Google about how to register for a US account without a US credit card.

  11. Andrew Rack - 7 years ago

    Seems safe to assume people here have an iPhone or iPad, so if there’s no dedicated app for a service that has one on those devices, can’t you just AirPlay them in the meantime? I do it all the time. Sure it’s not perfect, but the video quality is really good on my 3rd gen Apple TV. I’m curious if the updated processor will have better 1080p and/or audio support. Could be worth it, as Apple TV is the best streaming device on a technical level.

  12. galley99 - 7 years ago

    The recently released Evel Knievel game looks great on Apple TV, and has optional controller support.

  13. acgwipeout - 7 years ago

    Call me when infuse or plex complete their apps.

    • Tony Collins (@_tony_c_) - 7 years ago

      I’ve just downloaded Air Video, which is a fantastic streaming app. I’ve used it for years on my iOS devices – you install a small server app on your computer and it streams to your Apple TV, like Plex. The difference is, Air Video is very very simple, which is how I like it. I had it up and running within 30 seconds. I strongly urge people to try it (I’m not affiliated, I’ve been an extremely happy customer for several years). It’s just a few $/£

  14. distressedcactus - 7 years ago

    During the keynote, who else thought at first that Beat Sports was a Beats-branded, Apple-developed game?

  15. applewatch20152015 - 7 years ago

    Set up my new Apple TV today and LOVE it! Yes, I had to download some apps but it literally takes like 3 seconds. No joke. The TV station apps require you to visit a website to activate with a code it’s an easy process. Only adds about a minute to the process. Very smooth interface, Siri is cool as hell, no lag, and everything has been spot on. Loving it!

  16. Frank Meyer - 7 years ago

    One more must have app for Apple TV : “classic Fireplace”

  17. Warwick Kay (@warwickck) - 7 years ago

    If you’re looking for a nice, simple dashboard app, search for Moment. A simple little app that lets you know your ETA to work, today’s weather and a snapshot of the news. Great if you like having the TV on, check news etc in the morning but don’t want the noise of a TV show.

  18. joshuagrahams - 7 years ago

    You guys forgot to mention myTuner Radio –
    It’s a free universal app available since day that allows you to listen to 30000 radio stations and 1 million podcasts!

  19. Jim Di Liddo - 7 years ago

    I love my new ATV4! I even found that I can use the remote to control the Quicktime player on my MacBook while it’s displaying content via AirPlay. A cool surprise. One thing I found that bothered me was with the NBC app; it drops a commercial right in the middle of a show instead of at an intended break. I was watching SNL and a 90 second commercial was inserted 15 seconds before the end of the musical performance. After the commercial it picked up for the last few notes of the song and ruined the performance. I hope these awkward issues will be corrected eventually and I’ve only seen it on the NBC app. Still, I have no regrets for buying the ATV4.

  20. zodor - 7 years ago

    At last, iPong, the remake of PONG is released for AppleTV.

  21. Glen Powell - 7 years ago

    Hey – What about ‘Le Gourmet TV’? It’s a free app with loads of high quality recipe and cooking related videos. Plus all of the recipes and ingredients  appear on screen at the end.

  22. Rodrigo Guimarães - 6 years ago

    Did not see any mention to a good app for kids. I am here to recommend Rogerio Virtual Pet for Kids, pretty good one.