Apple TV just got a massive upgrade — what you need to know

New Apple TV app in tvOS 17.2
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple just overhauled its Apple TV interface, and it should be a major upgrade for one of the best streaming devices we’ve ever tested.

Starting yesterday (Dec. 11), the Apple TV app is going to look a lot different for users. The tech company gave the app a refresh as part of a tvOS 17.2 update, but it’s not just limited to tvOS devices like the Apple TV 4K (2022). It also adds some much-appreciated features. 

Chief among these improvements is a new sidebar, which gives you quick access to Apple original content like Apple TV Plus and MLS Season Pass, as well as shortcuts to channels and apps, including streaming services like Max, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus, Prime Video and more. It makes it much easier to find exactly what content you’re looking for while also giving Apple the benefit of highlighting some things it wishes you were watching. 

Adios, iTunes: Apple TV is replacing the old iTunes Store 

Aside from this sidebar, the other major update is an updated store in the Apple TV app. This Store tab allows you to shop for TV shows and movies to buy or rent, replacing the old iTunes Movies and iTunes Shows apps that you had to go to on Apple TV devices prior to this tvOS 17.2 update. 

In fact, these old iTunes apps will stop working entirely. On Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K streaming devices, opening the iTunes Movies and iTunes TV Shows apps will redirect you to the revamped Apple TV app. The same thing will happen if you open the iTunes Store app on iPhones or iPads. You will be able to find your existing purchases in the new app, so don’t worry. 

New Apple TV app in tvOS 17.2

(Image credit: Apple)

While a lot of these updates are specific to Apple devices, the sidebar — or at least part of it — will be a universal upgrade. I just checked out the Apple TV app on my Samsung The Frame and I found the refreshed design and new sidebar. 

There are certain features from the sidebar missing — given it's a smart TV app rather than a tvOS app, it doesn’t add the ability to access channels and apps, but that makes sense. After all, on a smart TV, you’re using the Apple TV app only to watch Apple content or your Apple TV show and movie purchases. Still, even this streamlined version of the sidebar is a welcome addition to the Apple TV user interface. 

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

  • mwanderson
    While the new app design is certainly slicker, it seems like Apple has mixed up the TV content with the movie content on the store, and with more of a bias towards the latter.

    Before, there was a handy toggle button at the top of the app that allowed you to switch between television content and movie content.

    For someone who is autistic, the ability to focus on either TV or movie content was important because it shut out all the other visual clutter. Now, when you go to the Apple TV store, there is one stream dedicated to Top TV Seasons… then way down, past loads of movie streams, a few streams for Iconic TV Franchises, More Hit Shows, Bestselling Box Sets etc… but for me, the app is now a confusing mess of visual clutter.

    I'm not interested in Add Channel or Browse by Decade or More to Explore.

    What would be good is the opportunity to refine the streams but of course, that would lessen Apple's marketing drive to catch one's eye with colourful content that you then buy. Apple isn't really about user experience anymore; it's about users' wallets, which is why they are a $3 trillion company.