Explaining the Apple TV Program Guide

Easily find what you want to watch

Two women on couch watching Apple TV, which is out of the frame

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If the future of television is apps, then what is the future of TV programming guides? If you already use several different TV-focused apps with your Apple TV you are likely to be spending far too much of your precious viewing time navigating inside all those different apps in search of something good to watch. It doesn’t need to be this way. That’s why Apple's electronic program guide will make it easier for Apple TV users to find the shows we want to watch. Think of it like Tivo, for apps.

How It Works

Apple will work with TV networks and other TV app content providers to develop a program guide as part of tvOS. This will let you find all the different shows you have available to you using apps on your Apple TV, and replaces the company’s previous plan to offer “skinny bundles” of television content.

As of fall 2016, Apple TV has a feature called Single Sign-On. This lets you save your cable TV username and password so you can automatically log into apps without needing to enter your details each time. It enables you to easily access TV stations exclusively made available to cable customers by their provider.

As Apple reaches deals with cable and satellite providers it will be able to provide a complete guide to all available programming through the new app.

Apple’s Great User Interface

Using the San Francisco font you’re used to reading, the app provides its information using familiar ​Apple TV user interface elements, such as Catalog Template, List Template, or Product Template. You can expect to check what shows are currently being made available “live” on your various apps, as well as exploring any streamed, catalog or pay-per-view options available to you using your personalized collection of apps and providers.

Siri support means you’ll be able to ask for specific shows, search for shows by topic and pull up interesting data about who is starring in a show, or find subsequent seasons of shows you ware watching. The latter is particularly useful when “binge-watching” series, some of which may be available on streaming services such as Netflix, while more recent iterations are made available elsewhere for a fee.

The guide also lets Apple TV users navigate through content they don’t yet have available on their device. This will be good for content providers who will be able to reach new customers through the guide, as well as for Apple TV users who will be able to choose the shows, deals, and cable packages that deliver the best value to them.

The Ultimate TV Guide

This is the ultimate TV guide, as it combines all the content you’ve subscribed to from your Apple TV with any content made available exclusively to customers by cable and satellite service providers.

The guide also means its own shows, including Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, will be made available as peer players beside all the other available programming.

Finally, the TV guide sets the scene for Apple to negotiate deals with content providers to enable Apple TV users to record live shows for playback later. There seems no great reason not to enable this, given this feature is made available to many cable and satellite subscribers using existing equipment. Naturally, the addition of such a feature means Apple TV will eventually replace the DVR. This is Apple’s intention, of course, to provide the world’s easiest and most natural way of accessing all kinds of media through the Apple TV. 

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