Who says Apple TV is only about entertainment and games? Not these apps!
While the new Apple TV is fantastic for watching your favorite movies, TV shows, and viral videos, and it can handle 1080p 60fps gaming, it's also a full-fledged platform with a wide variety of apps available. Because it's an Apple TV, they do all skew towards the video and the visual, but in a multitude of delightful ways.
So, I wanted to provide a sampling of some of the many and varied apps already available. Since there's no web browser, there's no easy way for us to link you to them. But here are our early favorites so you can search for them by name.
Zova states that the company's mission is to "guide and support people towards living a consistently active and healthy lifestyles". Their latest step towards that is the Apple TV app. Unlike an iPhone or iPad app that you have to figure out how to position and keep at a usable distance to really see the screen, Zova for Apple TV fills your really big screen. The cast is entirely female, though otherwise diverse.
In a addition to the Siri Remote, it works with an optional MFi game controller, and if you have an Apple Watch, it'll even show your heart-rate right on the TV. That's spectacular and the kind of integration I hope we see more of.
You can download Zova for free and get additional content via in-app purchase.
Madefire wants to "revolutionize how stories are told, read, and shared" by transforming what was before static text and images on a page into something much more dynamic and interactive. Something, for example, you can enjoy on your Apple TV.
Motion comics and books have been done before, but motion comics and books is all Madefire is focusing on and it shows. They've got great characters from DC Comics like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, as well as IDW, Dark Horse, Valiant, Titan, Boom, Oni Press, Top Cow, and more. And yes, Transformers and My Little Pony too. There are also original titles.
The Madefire app is free and so is some of the content. The rest is available via in-app purchase and presented in 360º panorama, with music, sound effects, motion and more. All to help you do something rather remarkable: Enjoy reading on your TV!
3. Artsy Shows
Time was if you wanted to see the world you actually had to jump on a boat or plane and travel to see it. Now we have everything of interest made by nature or humankind beamed right into our living rooms and our hands. Almost. The experience of walking through museums and galleries has been harder to capture because, well, of the walking through part.
Artsy Shows is a way to try and capture the feeling of moving the time and space of history, culture, and art... while still in your living room. There are over 1,000 exhibitions to explore, updated daily, and because it's on your TV, you can enjoy it with the family... or with a great glass of wine. No boat or plane jumping needed.
4. Kitchen Stories
Kitchen Stories was founded to bring "unique cooking experiences back to your home kitchen". They aim to achieve this by using compelling videos with step-by-step instructions that are as delightful as they are delicious. If that sounds like something perfect for the Apple TV, then you're absolutely right—which is why it's so great Kitchen Stories is now on the big screen. (Especially great if you, like me, can clearly see your TV from your kitchen island!)
There are how-tos so you can improve your culinary skills, and recipes from classics, to quick-fixes, to vegan fare, and more. And, ridiculously, it's all free to download.
Mixcloud wants to "inspire your ears" through the hottest DJs and most compelling radio presenters in the business—but why would you want them too? Maybe you don't have Apple Music or maybe you just want something different, something that combines DJ mixes and talk radio, and otherwise makes for it's own listening experience. And maybe, yes, you really do want it on your Apple TV. (Even if said Apple TV currently lacks background audio...)
One of the great things about the Apple TV is that it's not only hooked into your TV—or home theater—audio, but it's ideally positioned to provide ambient audio programming for the entire area. That could be for a party, but it could also be while you're preparing food or working and otherwise want sound around you but not directly at you.
6. Star Walk Kids
Star Walk Kids for Apple TV brings the award-winning iPhone and iPad experience to the even bigger screen. You lose the ability to hold your screen up to the stars and get augmented-reality-style information on exactly what you're looking at, but most of us aren't Hulk enough to take advantage of that anyway.
What you get are all the planets of the Sol system, including the moon and Pluto (just say "no!" to celestial revisionism!), constellations, the 700 brightest stars in the night sky, the Cygnus X-1 black hole, as well as the International Space Station (ISS) and Hubble Space Telescope. All on your TV, all engaging, and all for kids—of all ages.
Since I have no musical talent whatsoever, this selection comes courtesy of my colleague, Serenity. Touchpress says it's an "extraordinary new way to experience classical music at home". Using technologies like BeatMap and NoteFall, to visual the performances note-by-note.
You can follow along with the classics and not only hear them, but see how they come together. NoteFall especially kind of reminds me of some of the video game apps, but it's gamefied education instead, which is really clever. Check out the video above to see—and hear—it in all its glory.
Smule's goal is to "connect the world through music" and they've been doing it since the original App Store launched for the iPhone in 2008. Since then, every time Apple has expanded the scope of devices and platform, Smule has expanded with them. Now, for Apple TV, Smule has released a version of Sing, the company's karaoke app. And yes, connected karaoke on an HDTV is about as delightful or terrifying as you imagine.
With Sing! you don't just sing along, you perform. You can record yourself with effects, engage in duets with popular artists, find and follow friends, and because it's globally connected—you can even be "discovered"... within the Sing! netverse. There are over 100,000 songs and more are added all the time.
9. Carrot Weather
CARROT is a jerk. Brian Mueller, its developer, is a sardonic genius. But CARROT, the "artificial intelligence" behind a range of gloriously twisted apps with attitude, is, well... lets just keep it family-friendly for now.
With CARROT Weather for the Apple TV you get the same, terrific Dark Sky-powered weather forecasts as you do on iOS, watchOS, and the Mac, and the same hilariously mean-spirited commentary from CARROT. And just like in the other apps and on the other platforms, CARROT transforms the drab and dreary, the boring and banal, into something far more interesting and entertaining.
I love the Apple Watch complication, but if you're a weather channel type person, give yourself a smile—and a few eye-rolls—and try CARROT instead.
10. Your favorite?
Apple TV apps are coming our way quickly now, so if you spot any phenomenal ones I've missed, let me know in the comments and I'll add the very best ones in!