So you’ve got your hands a new, fourth-generation Apple TV and you’re dying to dive in, maybe show it off to someone. Where do you start? The App Store, of course! You need apps to watch movies and play games, and you need this list to pick the best ones. The following 10 selections aren’t the only apps you should check out, but they’re a damn good place to start.
Free (subscription required)
Duh, right? This may seem like a no-brainer for Netflix subscribers (or anyone who’d like a free trial month), but the app is worth singling out because of how well it works with Apple TV’s new Siri-powered search. Just say, "Show me The Walking Dead, season two," and you’re instantly given the option to watch any season-two episode on Netflix or iTunes. Although that was easily the weakest season…
HBO Now/HBO Go
Free (subscription required)
The App Store has several worthwhile video-on-demand services (Hulu, every major sports league, etc.), but we’ll spotlight just one more here, Emmy darling HBO. There are actually two HBO apps: HBO Go, for people who subscribe to the channel through a cable provider, and HBO Now, for those who subscribe directly. Content is the same for both, so you’ll be able to use either to find out if [SPOILER] really [SPOILERED] when Game of Thrones returns next year.
People tend to overlook Apple’s Trailers app on iPhone and iPad, but it’s pretty awesome — and with the Apple TV version, you can watch the epic Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer on a big TV! You can also add the movie to a list of your favorite flicks, find its release date on the app’s calendar, see upcoming showtimes for local theaters, and watch the film eventually appear in the top charts section. Oh, and you can do all that for every other movie, too.
For a new generation of viewers, YouTube has pretty much replaced traditional TV programming — but a big screen still makes clips and shows a better experience. The new YouTube app carries over your personal profile from other devices, so it’s easy to kick back and enjoy your favorite channels from the comfort of your couch.
Free, with in-app purchases
The latest installment in the side-scrolling Rayman series is just as beautiful as its console cousins, and offers more control than typical auto-running iOS platformers: you can swipe left or right on the remote’s touchpad to change direction at any time. There’s lots of fun to be had even without in-app purchases, thanks to an abundance of goals per level, countless collectibles, and endless charm.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
This is about as close as you’ll get to a Legend of Zelda game outside of traditional game consoles, with puzzles, actions, and locations that are very reminiscent of Nintendo’s classic franchise. (The intro alone makes it clear the developers are big fans of the series’ Super NES standout A Link to the Past.) The graphics are fantastic, and present a world that promises to stay with you well beyond the end of your adventure. For more of that Zelda feel, you can even use a MFi controller.
This was the game Tim Cook chose to show off the new Apple TV’s gaming chops when the device was announced, and with good reason. From the makers of Guitar Hero and the man who wrote the music for PlayStation’s cult-hit Parappa the Rapper, Beat Sports brings the simple, addictive fun of keeping the beat to the sofa where up to four players can sit side by side while battling aliens in rhythm-based ball games. It’s a great way to experience the new remote’s built-in motion sensors.
This one is as much a work of art as it is a game — the entire world in this puzzling adventure was created by hand, then photagraphed. You can really sense the handmade care that went into its creation, like when you watch a movie with good stop-motion animation. Lumino City is perfect for fans of old-school adventure games, or just, y’know, people who like to look at pretty things.
Space Age: A Cosmic Adventure
Speaking of old-school adventure games, Space Age will take you back to the point-and-click glory days of Sierra and LucasArts. It’s full of retro sci-fi charm, with interesting characters and funny dialogue that liven up the supposedly uninhabited planed your team is tasked with exploring. If you have fond memories of PC classics like King’s Quest, Grim Fandango, or Leisure Suit Larry, this trip down nostalgia lane is easily worth its low price.
Like many of the games on this list, Transistor offers amazing visuals with a unique artistic style. Both the world and story strike a dark, noir-cyberpunk tone, with interesting characters and mysteries to unravel. The action incorporates RPG-style strategy, and can be controlled via the touchpad on the new Apple TV remote or a MFi gamepad. Buy the game on Apple TV and you’ll get it for iPhone and iPad too, with your save carried across all platforms via the cloud.