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Six ways to improve the Apple TV interface

Dan Moren,Jonathan Seff | Dec. 16, 2013
Here are half a dozen steps Apple could take to improve the way we browse and watch content from the comfort of our couches.

5. Home-screen organization
Remember how folders on iOS devices helped bring (some) order to the chaos caused by a proliferation of apps? It's time to bring the same kind of organization to the Apple TV. You can already take advantage of some tricks—using parental controls to hide content sources you don't want, for example, and reordering channels to put your favorites at the top—but they don't go far enough. (An easier way to turn individual channels on and off would be cool, however.)

Wouldn't it be nice if you could also group channels in a way that suits your viewing habits? You could pull together all the sports subscription channels into a folder or a separate homescreen, or relegate the sources you don't use into another one. Apple's Remote app for iOS (or its logical successor) could be a perfect tool for creating, naming, and filling such folders. Alternatively Apple might come up with a way to use iTunes for this purpose, similar to the way you use it on iOS devices that are connected to your Mac.

6. Categories
Folders and home screens could let you customize what appears where—but what about letting Apple do some of the work for you? A Categories setting would enable you to see just the types of content you're looking for. You could have the Apple TV sort channels into predefined categories such as subscription video services, sports channels, music, photos, and kids. Then you could choose to display channels by those groupings (as one interface with multiple sections) or by showing just the categories you've enabled in the Apple TV's Settings menu.

Some work to do
Don't get us wrong: More content on the Apple TV is a good thing. It provides more incentive for cord-cutters and brings Apple's set-top box closer to the likes of Roku. (To be fair, Roku has more than 1000 channels; but you've probably never heard of many of them, and Apple is slowly picking off the big names.)

With greater content, however, comes greater responsibility to help users sift through it all. With a few tweaks, the Apple TV could make it simpler to find the content you want and to deal with its ever-expanding lineup of channels.


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