Patrick Larsson

Thursday 31st March 2016

Why Apple TV apps aren’t discoverable and how to fix it

In November of last year we got an email from our Apple contact asking us if we were planning on making an app for the new Apple TV platform. We hadn't really considered it up until that point but we still cleared our schedule for the next few months in favor of this new opportunity.

Fast forward to mid March when our Quiz-Tac-Toe app, a mash-up between a trivia game and tic-tac-toe, was approved for sale on the Apple TV. As seasoned app developers we thought we had a pretty good idea of how to market our new app. Among other things, we would reach out to our various networks and social media followers by way of email, Facebook, Twitter and the like.

However, as some of you fellow developers might already know, reaching out to people who already know your work is not as powerful on the Apple TV. The reason for this is that you cannot give them the usual one-click shopping experience by including a link to iTunes or the App Store.

The only place to access app information and buy an Apple TV app is on the Apple TV itself. Unfortunately, this means that unless your app is featured on the Apple TV's App Store home page, there really is no other way to find your app than searching for it by name using the Siri remote. This is no small hurdle for a potential customer to scale.

Naturally, the further away from a one-click shopping experience your customers are, the harder it will be to convert them. In order for indie app developers to start making money on the Apple TV platform the apps must come to the customer, not the other way around. Here are a few ways to make it easier for Apple TV apps to be discovered:

Apple TV section on iTunes
The first and most obvious would be to give Apple TV apps their own section in iTunes. This way, it would at least be possible to direct a potential customer to a familiar looking page with more information.

Apple TV app on your iPhone
Just like the Apple Watch already has, the Apple TV should have its own app on your iPhone. Here Apple could sell you on features, showcase apps, let you browse and search for apps etc. In many ways, the Apple TV is a peripheral product just like the Apple Watch and with the same target audience – iPhone owners.

Apple TV section in your iDevice's App Store
Even better than an iTunes section for Apple TV apps would be to make it possible for Apple TV owners to browse for Apple TV apps on their mobile devices' App Store. After all, this is most iDevice owners go to place for apps and what we have been trained to do for the last 5+ years.

Seamless buying and install process
Since you most likely use the same Apple ID on your iDevice and your Apple TV, apps that are purchased through any of the above mentioned methods should be automatically installed on your Apple TV and highlighted the next time you turn it on.

Patrick Larsson Patrick is co-founder of Happi Papi.
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