How to watch TV and movies on iPhone and iPad with the TV app


Back when Apple first introduced the app, it positioned is as a solution to the problem of having so much to watch in so many apps. With Netflix, Amazon, and services local to your country, streaming countless films and TV shows it can take a whole evening to find something to watch. Apple’s iPhone idea was to create a library app where you could search for something to watch and then see where it was available – and choose the best deal. If a film is free on Netflix you won’t want to pay to watch it on iTunes, after all. Users can also jump straight to the things they are already watching in the Up Next section.

We thought that the TV app was pretty neat, although there are some features that used to be in the Videos app that are missing (like the next episode of Peppa Pig automatically playing). Apple clearly thought it needed to do more though, as the company has announced that changes are coming to the TV app.

What can you watch on the TV app?

Currently you can’t actually ‘watch’ anything in the TV app unless it’s something you purchased or rented from iTunes. nThe apps other purpose is that it can be used to search for content across all your apps and services, including (in the UK) iPlayer, iTV Hub, My 5. Even though All4 is now available as an app it’s not searchable within the Apple TV app. You can also search Prime Video and Netflix, and the kid’s app Hopster. The TV app also lets you search for content from film subscription apps: MUBI, Sundance Now, Shudder, and Classix, and documentary subscription app Curiosity Stream.

How to use the TV app on iPhone/iPad

Once you open the app you’ll see a Watch Now screen. The first time you use the app you will see a Welcome to the Apple TV App video, which shows you a little of what to expect from the app.Once you have started using the app you will see a shortcut to the last things you were watching in this Up Next section.What to Watch showcases the content Apple is pushing and a collection of options from Amazon Prime Originals, BBC, ITV, My and so on.

How to find what you want to watch using the TV app:

If you want to find a particular show, and it isn’t being showcased by Apple, it’s easy to search for it.

  • Tap on Search at the bottom right of the screen and type in the name of the show.
  • Tap on the results to see where it’s available and to start watching.
  • You will see results sorted by category: TV Shows, Films. If it’s a TV show you are after, for example, tap on that option.
  • At the top you’ll see information about where the show can be watched. IN this case Peppa Pig can be watched on Prime Video, My5, Netflix and iTunes.
  • You can both scroll though the series and episodes below and find the one you want to watch, or choose an episode that is free on one of the apps listed.
  • If you just want to jump straight to a particular app you could tap on the three dots inside the blue circle. This will bring up a menu with Open In and you can choose to open the relevant app straight into that program me.
  • Since the TV app doesn’t integrate with Netflix particularly well, searching for Brooklyn 99 doesn’t bring up Netflix as a result, although, if you search for Peppa Pig you will see the option to watch on Netflix.

How to watch films & movies in Apple’s TV app:

For now the TV app doesn’t really showcase films very well, although it has got better since the app first launched. If you are looking for movie inspiration there’s a section of Trending Films, but this is predominantly films currently available on iPlayer in there’s also a Hit Films section further down the page featuring films from various services.

How to watch TV shows and films on the TV app:

Once you have found a show or film you wish to watch, either by tapping on any of the shows that Apple has showcased in the Watch Now page of the TV app, or by searching you are all set to start watching. Here’s how you do that:

Tap on the cover image of that programed:

This takes you to that programmer’s page, where you can see the rating, Rotten Tomatoes score, and other information. You will also see the options of where the programmed or film is available to view. BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, My5, and so on. If you would like to see what episodes are available to watch in the other apps, tap on the dots in the blue circle to see the options: Open in My5, Open in Tunes, Open in Prime Video, and so on.


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