Apple's TV app is getting a huge free upgrade

Apple's TV apps are a bit of a mess right now, but Apple is reportedly preparing to launch one TV app to rule them all

Apple TV app showing MLS
(Image credit: Apple)

It's been some time since Apple introduced its stand-alone TV app: October 2016, in fact. But despite that streamlining, Apple still offers multiple TV apps on your devices, so for example on my Apple TV 4K's Home Screen there's the Apple TV app but there are also apps for iTunes Movies and iTunes Shows. 

This is confusing – almost as confusing as trying to work out whether "Apple TV" refers to the hardware device, the app or the Apple TV+ streaming service – so it's good to see that Apple is about to make everything a lot more sensible.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple intends to relaunch its TV app in December as a one-stop-shop for all your TV and movie content, from Apple and from other sources too.

What's changing in Apple's TV app?

According to Bloomberg, the iTunes TV and movie apps on Apple TV are getting the chop, and so are the movie and TV show sections in the iTunes Store app for iPhone and iPad

This is long overdue, because you don't need separate apps to get purchased content in the main TV app: you can buy and rent from there, and it accesses your library. It also enables you to add subscriptions to other services and view their content too. So for example when I open up the Apple TV app on my Apple TV it doesn't just show me picks from Apple TV+, but from iPlayer, from Paramount+ and from Disney+ too. The exception is Netflix, which for some time now has declined the opportunity to be featured on Apple TV users' Home Screens. 

Another change that's coming to the TV app, on Apple TV boxes and on third party TVs that run Apple's app, is a side panel that looks much the same as the ones on Netflix, on Disney+ and on pretty much every other streaming service too: it's the panel you use to navigate between TV shows and movies, and between genres, on those services. 

I'm looking forward to these changes, because I much prefer the Apple TV box to the navigation and apps in my Samsung TV, and those in other manufacturers' boxes and TVs. As ever, Apple isn't commenting on any changes let alone release dates but the TV update is expected to land in or before early December.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (