Apple just made a core experience on the Apple TV worse.
Earlier today, users started to notice that, when using the TV app on their Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, or Mac, the Up Next section that was usually at the top of the app disappeared.
Well, the section hadn't actually disappeared. It was still in the app, but it had been bumped down in favor of moving the Featured section to the top of the app. While some users thought that the change was simply affecting developers using the latest 16.2 beta version of tvOS, one user showed that they experienced the change in the TV app on the latest public version of macOS 13 Ventura.
The change has moved the Featured section, which is full of movies and shows that Apple's algorithm thinks you may want to watch, to the top of the app. The Up Next section, which shows you the films and movies you have either saved to your list to watch later or are in the middle of watching, has been demoted to underneath the Featured section.
The move, interestingly, seems to have happened the day before the new Apple TV 4K (2022) launches worldwide.
This move is good for Apple but not for users
There's only one reason Apple would make this move: money. Putting the Featured section as the first thing you see in the TV app does one key thing, and that's getting you to potentially check out the content you haven't yet added to your Up Next queue.
More importantly, you might want to watch something that is part of a streaming service that you aren't yet paying for. If you then sign up for that streaming service, guess who gets a cut? Apple.
The move by the company puts the TV app experience in line with other streaming services like Netflix which also advertises other recommended content to you first in its app before letting you get to the list of things you have actually added to watch.
People don't seem to be happy with the change. Screen Time's Sigmund Judge, who is one of the biggest fans of Apple TV, took to Twitter to share his disappointment in the change.
A upsetting server-side update to the TV app on the 16.2 beta has demoted the Up Next Queue to the second row in favour of a Featured row. This is a major downgrade in the user experience that I hope Apple backtracks on before distributing to the masses… pic.twitter.com/4B6upIKDhXNovember 3, 2022
Six Color's Jason Snell pointed out that, while this kind of move might be acceptable within a streaming service's own app, Apple should hold the TV app to a higher standard as it is a top-level app and aggregator for all of your services.
This is all true, except that on tvOS, the TV app is not a streaming-service app, it's a top-level device app that's aggregating across many different services. As a result, I think it should be held to a higher standard. https://t.co/5WkDiqipiSNovember 3, 2022
As someone who has used an Apple TV and the TV app to aggregate their streaming content for years, I've always appreciated that Apple has put the Up Next section first. While I'm glad to have the option to swipe down to peruse through some recommended content, the thing I want to do the most is getting back to what I was watching or what I had saved to watch.
I know what's going to happen for me now. I'm going to open up the TV app and build new muscle memory to swipe down immediately to bypass the Featured section, grumbling about the change until I forget that it exists. While some have said that elevating the Featured section will lead to more discovery and a higher value for its users, I think that Apple sees the move as bringing more value to itself.
It's another small but disappointing change that shows Apple will make the experience worse for its users if it sees the dollar signs for itself. I hope that Apple listens to the feedback and changes things back before it rolls this change to everyone.
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Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.