It's great for all of those things, but it can also do a lot more. Sometimes you just need to know where to look.
By knowing the right settings, the proper Siri commands and a few special apps, you can use your Apple TV for everything from calming down at the end of the day to controlling the lights.
Here are some Apple TV tips and tricks to help you get the most out of it.
The keyboard on the Apple TV is atrocious. It's the worst part of the experience, because you need to use the remote to slide around and tap each letter for a username or password.
But you can save yourself a bunch of time by just typing on your iPhone. Here's how:
New TVs are super bright, which means the white colors used throughout the Apple TV interface can be somewhat irritating in a dark environment. I prefer to turn on "Dark Mode," which makes things easier on the eyes, especially if you have the lights off. Here's how to turn it on:
The Apple TV can be used as the primary hub for your smart home. With it and a couple of smart gadgets like light bulbs, security cameras and smart outlets, you can control your home from the Home app on your iPhone.
You need to set this up on the Apple TV first. Here's how:
Now you can add gadgets to your house through the Home app on your iPhone. Also, if you want, you can use the microphone button on your remote to ask Siri to control stuff, like your lights.
Siri can be used to show information at the bottom of the screen, too. If you ask it a questions like, "Who won the Eagles game?" for example, Siri will show that the Eagles lost to the Saints, with the score and the logos of each team and a summary of the game.
If you ask the weather, Siri will show the current temperature and a logo representing the weather (like a cloud). But, oddly, Siri can't answer some other things that it does on a phone, like how tall the Empire State Building is or how long it will take you to get to work.
It's super easy to see all the pictures that you snap on your iPhone right on your Apple TV. You need to set up a couple of things on your iPhone and on your Apple TV to get it working. Here's what to do:
Now open the Photos app on your Apple TV and sign in to iCloud. You'll see all of the pictures you've snapped on your iPhone, and it'll always be updated with the latest ones.
The Apple TV supports Apple AirPlay, which lets you mirror the screen on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. It's useful if you're watching a YouTube video during a dinner party and want to share it with everyone on the big screen, or even if you just want to display a presentation from your Mac to your Apple TV.
On an iPhone or iPad:
On a Mac:
Apple TV has a feature called Zero Sign-on that's super, super useful. If you pay for cable, you don't need to sign-in to every single premium app that's based on a cable subscription. So, if you have TBS and CNBC installed and pay for those apps through cable, you just pick your cable network once and then those apps will sign-in automatically each time. Here's how to set that up:
Now, open an app like NBC or another network that requires cable.
At some point, you or the kids might have signed up for an app that requires a monthly subscription. Maybe you don't want to pay for it anymore. You can see and cancel those subscriptions right from your Apple TV. To do that:
There are a couple of Apple TV apps that let you order food right from your TV, including GrubHub and Papa Johns pizza. To use them:
I've been using an app called Calm recently and, as I started writing this guide, I saw that it has an Apple TV app, too. It costs $9.99 a month, but I think it's worth it. There are a couple of other meditation apps, but to use Calm do this:
You can organize the home screen of your Apple TV with folders and by moving applications around. But the controls are really hidden. To create folders or move apps around, do this:
You can watch CNBC on your Apple TV. There's a bunch of free content if you just open the app, including recent clips from your favorite shows, highlight segments from the top news of the day and more. Or, if you have a cable subscription, you can sign in and watch CNBC live. To get CNBC:
You can browse for goods on Amazon and add them to a list to buy later. Sadly, you can't actually buy stuff — you need an Amazon Fire TV to do that — but this is still fun if you just want to window-shop from the couch.
There's a TV icon on the remote but, by default, it brings you to the TV app. This is where you can find lots of TV shows and movies from all sorts of places, like Hulu and iTunes, but I prefer setting that button to bring me to the home screen so I can see all of my apps. Otherwise, I have to tap the menu button several times to return home.
To change the TV button to bring you home, do this:
You don't have to fiddle with the remote to find the controls to fast forward or rewind while watching a movie. You can ask Siri to do it for you by tapping the microphone button on the remote. You can use Siri to fast forward or to rewind.
(Tip: Say "Fast forward 20 minutes" to move further ahead.)
You can also use Siri to find specific types of content, like comedy movies, or movies starring a specific person. The fastest way to play and pause, however, is to just tap the play/pause button on your Apple TV remote.
Play around with different apps and dig around in the settings menus to find even more things you can do with the Apple TV. Or, if you don't own an Apple TV, check out my guide to using the Amazon Fire TV.