The Apple TV has been available for a week now and the tvOS App Store is estimated to include over 1,000 apps, with more coming online every day. There’s a pretty good selection of titles, with a heavy focus on gaming. Developers are still figuring out how to use the touchpad Siri Remote in interesting and new ways but the initial launch is promising for sure. We’ve rounded up our favourite apps and games for the new Apple TV so far …
Top Apps And Games For The New Apple TV
Battle Supremacy: Evolution
My current favorite Apple TV game, Battle Supremacy: Evolution. You play as a transforming mecha unit and speed through beautiful-scenery like futuristic cityscapes, mountains and more. The vehicle can swap between being a tank, a drone or an airplane and each mode is distinguished from each other to offer unique gameplay, with the difference between driving and flying being the most compelling. It’s a great high octane racer-shooter featuring 100 single-player missions to accomplish and team deathmatch multiplayer. The game is universal and progress is synced between your iPhone, iPad and Apple TV through iCloud for added convenience.
The new Apple TV Siri Remote bears a lot of resemblance to the Nintendo Wii motion controller. I loved playing Snooker with the motion gestures on the Wii, and Cueist brings a great, perhaps even better, interpretation of the game to the Apple TV. Cueist has pretty visuals to boot: 60fps gameplay with high-quality reflections on the balls. Use the touchpad to pull off some more complicated moves with the cue, like jump, screw and curve shots. You can play against a friend or against a CPU to get up to speed. You can use an MFi game controller for more accuracy, but playing with the motion controls using the Siri Remote is way more fun.
Arguably, the most well known network media streaming service is now on Apple TV. The Plex developers have done a great job with this — beautiful artwork, simple navigation and great video streaming quality. Reviews from sites like Rotten Tomatoes are integrated directly into the interface and the UI in general matches Apple’s tvOS iTunes Store apps, so it feels right at home. The app talks to a local Plex Media Server to get its content. You can also view livestreams from internet video networks like YouTube and Revision3. Plex is the best choice for NAS media streaming to a new Apple TV.
Another media streaming app similar to Plex, the app requires a helper app to run on a Mac in the local network which handles the actual file sourcing and transcoding necessary for the new Apple TV to play it. The UI is really streamlined to the essence of watching TV shows and movies, making navigation super-simple with the new Apple TV Siri Remote. The app plays a relevant backing soundtrack as you hover between movies, which adds a great cinematic feeling before you’ve even started watching a show. Squire can directly integrate with torrent movie streaming sources, too, for easy access to not-very-legitimate content on Apple TV.
I think this is the most ‘in-depth’ Apple TV game out of the current selection. A full-on adventure puzzle game, with a beautiful variety of worlds … you cross oceans, explore mazes and fight dragons in your quest across the ancient kingdom of Arcadia. Game Center integration tracks your progress via achievements as you play through the ~10 hours of gameplay on offer. The sound design in this game is top-notch, which makes it so fun to play on the Apple TV with the immersive living-room environment. It works great with MFi game controllers too.
If you have played Crossy Road on iPhone, then you’ll know what you are in for here. You get a chicken to cross as many roads as possible without getting hit by the oncoming traffic. The simple four-way controls work beautifully on Apple TV. At Apple’s September event, they showed a multiplayer feature where two people could play simultaneously; one using the Siri Remote and another using an iOS device as a remote. This takes full advantage of the shared user aspect of TV and is a lot of fun.
Sing! Karaoke by Smule
An interesting sing-along karaoke app from Smule. Great for home parties — use your iPhone or iPad as a microphone. You can also watch people from all over the world perform songs, as well as sing alongside them. A strange, but cool, social music experience.
The iconic iOS game is now available on Apple TV, in its full 60fps 1080p glory. The game syncs with the iOS version of the app so you can pick up right where you left on any device. The app is also universal, so there’s a good chance you already own the version for Apple TV. The game has just added support for MFi game controllers, which may be preferable to the Siri Remote touchpad interaction.
Shadowmatic is a weird game to describe. The idea is you have to manipulate floating objects in a scene against a spotlight to cast shadows that make recognizable objects. Once the highlighted scene matches the end image, you win and move on to the next level. The appeal is in the discovery more than the game progression: seeing how abstract shapes can bend light to depict completely different images on a screen is very compelling, even if it sounds boring. It works great on Apple TV thanks to the beautifully high-resolution graphics.
A new game from Realmac Software: a difficult side-scrolling platformer with a highly-stylized graphic style. I love it on iOS and the Apple TV app is pretty good too. Although the game is frustratingly intentionally hard, the checkpoint system is very generous so you always revive right next to the obstacle that just killed you. You can also pay to advance if you get really stuck.
The tvOS App Store is dominated by video entertainment apps and games so it’s nice to see some utility apps make an appearance that are genuinely useful. Scoreboard keeps track of player scores for physical board and card games and simply displays the score onscreen. Play something as a group in the living room and whenever players wants to check how far ahead they are, they can just glance up at the TV.
I love Brickbreaker as a quick time waster and the game concept shines on Apple TV thanks to the remote touchpad. You can get a 1:1 translation of finger swipes on the Siri Remote and the movement of the paddle onscreen. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard Brickbreaker experience with powerups, varying level designs and a pumping soundtrack. That’s not a bad thing. Why mess with something that works so well?
Another utility app: checking your Internet speed. This is probably not going to stay on your Apple TV Home screen for very long, but when you are setting up your box or moving it to a different room, it’s reassuring to be able to verify the strength of the Wi-Fi connection. Maybe you use it once or twice a year, but that still means you need to download it.
The TV is great for multiple people like families. TapTap Party capitalizes on that by bundling a suite of mini games into one app for the Apple TV. Up to four people can race around ninjas, zombies, snowmen in arctic hockey, and more in a hectic party game a la Mario Party. The developer promises to add more mini games over time which will keep game content fresh. Even so, good value for $3.99.
A simple puzzle game, with a basic design hiding a pretty complicated game. Somehow, you have to move the squares to cover the circles. You have to discern the one combination of block positioning and movements that solve the level. A laid-back brain teaser perfect for casual evening entertainment.
Mr Jump won an Editors’ Choice award on iPhone and iPad and the same game is now available on Apple TV. I love Mr Jump because each level adds a different power-up to change the gameplay. It’s the classic one-button game with a surprising level complexity. The frustration is definitely part of the appeal here though — getting to 97% level completion and then dying is a key factor in galvanizing another round of play.
You can ask Siri for weather conditions using the mic on the new Apple TV’s Siri Remote but tvOS doesn’t (yet?) have its own built-in Weather app on the Home screen. CARROT Weather fills the gap nicely, or as I like to call it, the weather app with an inferiority complex. CARROT differentiates itself by giving its apps a personality. This scales to the TV nicely, adding some depth to what could be a dull list of temperatures. The visual accompaniments are almost a show unto themselves, with a variety of characters popping along depending on current weather. Let’s put it this way: it’s the only weather app I know that features a spaceman moon landing. Funny indeed.
This is a classic arcade game in every sense. Eight-bit graphics. Power ups. Star field. The works. A big issue here is the control mechanism, I’m not sure exactly what the problem is but the ship will randomly shoot off to one side of the screen, ruining that particular run. When it’s working, which is most of the time, it’s pretty good fun. If you know what Galaga is, you should give this a go.
Recommending apps that are essentially TV channels might be a weird thing given people’s TV preferences are so varied but I think Young Hollywood deserves a mention. It’s clearly meant for a younger audience but all the content is free and has high production value. Watch documentaries about magicians, console game developers, YouTube stars, indie video makers and more. I was surprisingly impressed with the content offered by a relatively-unknown brand.
It is certainly weird to suggest doing math on your TV, no question. If you are looking for a TV calculator, perhaps as part of a school / learning environment, PCalc is the best app for the job. The main calculator appearance is easy to read at a distance and navigating the calculator buttons with the Siri Remote is intuitive and obvious. The Settings have loads of options too, to customize your math-computation experience for engineering or scientific uses. If you want a calculator for your TV, PCalc is the app to get.
The beauty of the new Apple TV is that the App Store can be ever-expanding with great new apps and games to watch and play. I have been surprised by the gaming quality with the Siri Remote, I think developers have done a good job within the limitations to make comfortable control schemes. Still, if you sit longing for a more-console feeling, the MFi game controllers can give you that.
Some games, like Rayman, even add additional controls when a game controller is connected to take full advantage of the additional joysticks/buttons available on a gamepad. My personal recommendation is the SteelSeries Stratus for ~$50 but there are a lot to choose from out there; Apple is pushing the SteelSeries Nimbus.
Let us know if you find some cool Apple TV apps and games not mentioned here below in the comments.
(Please note: In some cases, we are unable to link to the app directly due to limitations with the iTunes Store, so instead we have linked to relevant videos or the iOS version of the app. You can always search the name of the app on your Apple TV to find it.)
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Plex has done a great job with this App. Well done.
Yeah, it is good.
By the way, thanks for the Roundup. I actually started to check your site more often lately to discover new Apple TV Apps ;-) keep up the great job
Plex is great with some video formats on the Apple TV. Try an .AVI file and see what happens: very slow to process and very subpar. With .MP4 and M4V it is fantastic. The .MKV file I tried also worked well. I’m going to have to update/convert all my .AVI files.
Umm….Avi is the worst container known to man and its codec xvid is also just as dated. As far as containers go mkv (open source) and m4v (Apple) are the clear front runners. When it comes to codecs x264/5 (Open source) is king.
All I was saying is that some formats won’t work well. Our 2-year old Samsung TV has no problem playing old AVI files. Not sure what is going on, but people with large libraries probably have a lot of older file formats in their collections. I have a lot of updating to do.
Excellent round up. Just to note though, Crossy Road two player is already functional, it’s just not entirely intuitive as to how to trigger it. See the brief article on imore http://www.imore.com/how-play-crossy-road-multiplayer-apple-tv
Yup, just played it yesterday! 2 player is so much fun. We figured out how to do it within a few seconds somehow even though it was not really clear on how to set up.
Whoops, I wrote part of this before launch. Updated to clarify availability — it is fun indeed.
I’m also enjoying a radio app called myTuner Radio. It’s pretty good with 30.000 radio stations and 1 million podcasts.
It’s a really cool app for the Apple TV.
I’ve been able to play the Crossy Road multiplayer. It took a bit of starting restarting but it worked eventually. Was a lot of fun :)
I don’t have mine yet, and I’m in Canada, so I don’t know if there’ll be a lot of network TV apps, or others such as Nat Geo, but can anyone tell me if programming on these types of apps are free? Or do you have to subscribe to something to watch TV shows?
For most things you will need a cable subscription through your cable provider to use network content apps. I didn’t see Nat Geo, but maybe I wasn’t looking for it. I’m sure I would have downloaded it if I saw it, so I would assume it’s not available in Canada yet (not at home at the moment). You can get access to CBC news, which basically shows clips of news stories and long versions of “The National”. I saw an app for Fox News 25 or something and maybe a couple of others but I didn’t try them. If you’re a cord cutter like myself, you are pretty much relegated to only using iTunes + Netflix. You can also subscribe to shomi as an alternative to Netflix. Don’t get me wrong though, I love the new apple TV. I’m thinking about getting another.
Thanks, Ryan. I’m not a cord cutter so hopefully we’ll get all the Canadian networks. I have Crave for free because I’m on Bell and subscribe to The Movie Network. I’m not paying for Shomi at the moment though, so it’ll be good to get all the Canadian networks on Apple TV. Plus any American ones would be good too, but I’m not holding my breath for that.
Crossy Road does have the multiplayer component in the game, however. If you swipe up before you start playing, you’ll go to the character selection screen, and on the far left you’ll see the two player option.
In Crossy Road on the iPhone, the player will tap the little arrow on the main menu, and then they’ll see a controller icon. This will connect it to the Apple TV.
Evel Knievel is just as awesome on Apple TV as it is on iOS!
TVPlayer is useful for streaming UK Freeview channels, although the great majority are in very over compressed SD.
So is it official that the ATV 3rd gen will not get this OS update? And it probably won’t get any other updates in the future either? Does anyone know for sure?
Alien Attack is a great game too! It’s just like the classic Space Invaders but with much cuter aliens. And I’m glad it supports MFi controllers so I can play it with my nimbus :)
Earthlapse TV has some of the most beautiful images I ever seen!
Just bought the TapTap Party app to try out with the kids. But I can’t find it for the iPhone or iPad, so multiplayer will be hard. Anyone knows if this has been pulled from the appstore or never existed?
I don’t know, but I can confirm that I’m seeing the same thing. Using my iPhone, I went to the developer’s website as shown in the appleTV AppStore, and there it had a link to get the app from the apple AppStore. When clicked, it shows the message “item not available in the U.S AppStore”. As if it might be available elsewhere. I think the writer of this story is in the UK, based on his voice and comments made in the 9to5mac podcast he participates in. So maybe it is available in the UK.
Hi! as I said above, the iOS version was still waiting for review until yesterday, so you should be able to download it now.
Have fun with the multiplayer!
Yep, I see it out there now, and it works. Thanks!
Hi! The iOS version was still waiting for review until yesterday, so you should be able to download it now. Thanks for purchasing our game and have fun!
I bought Cueist. The graphics are great, but the gameplay is near impossible. Sensitivity is ratcheted up so much that any slight movement ruins the shot. There is apparently no way to stabilize the cue once you’ve placed it. The software needs work. But it’s not the only app I’ve thrown money away on. I am not buying anything else for a couple of months. Right now the Apple TV store is full of junk that is rushed to market. The only apps that I’ve been happy with are the one’s I’ve purchased earlier and have been ported over.
It would be absolutely amazing if Star Wars Battlefront came out as multiplayer and campaign for the Apple TV. It probably wont happen even though Apple has more than enough money to buy it from EA and Lucas Arts. If it was made there probably would be a requirement for a Third-Party controller though
Don’t forget Tubi TV! Thousands of movies and tv shows for FREE! (and it’s legal :))
Nice. I’d really like to play some of these games on my tv.