If there’s an Apple TV compatible version of your favorite iPhone or iPad app, but it never makes it to your Apple TV, that doesn’t do you a lot of good. Fortunately, with a simple tweak, you can ensure you’re getting the best apps on both your phone and your TV.
Now that Apple TV and the underlying tvOS have started to mature, there are tons of crossover apps that bring your favorite iOS apps to your TV. In fact, there are so many tvOS apps now, it’s easy to overlook them and not even realize that your favorite time-wasting iPad game or iPhone media app is available on the Apple TV. Thankfully, since the introduction of tvOS 10, you can configure your Apple TV to automatically grab the tvOS versions of iOS apps installed on iPhones and iPads that share the same Apple ID. The feature is off by default, however, so let’s take a moment to flip it on.
Open up the Settings app on your Apple TV and select the “Apps” category.
Toggle “Automatically Install Apps” on (and, if for some reason “Automatically Update Apps” is off, turn that on also).
Now, whenever you install an app on an iOS device that uses the same Apple ID as your Apple TV, if there is a compatible app for tvOS it will be automatically loaded on your Apple TV. While that was simple enough, our work here isn’t quite done. Turning the “Automatically Install Apps” function on doesn’t retroactively apply the feature to iOS apps you’ve already downloaded. So you’ll need to manually add apps to your Apple TV that predate this setting change.
Thankfully, it’s super easy to see which apps are missing. Open up the App Store app on your Apple TV and navigate to the “Purchased” tab, as seen below. There you can select “Not on This Apple TV” and see all the apps you’ve purchased on your mobile device that have companion tvOS apps.
Simply select the apps you want on your Apple TV and install them. Don’t worry if you find yourself buried under new apps—it’s very simple to rearrange your apps for a more user-friendly experience and delete apps to free up space
From this point forward, the only time you’ll need to manually install apps on your Apple TV is if you are either a) installing a tvOS only application that won’t be automatically installed as a companion app, or b) installing an app purchased by a member of your “Family Sharing” family.
If, for example, your daughter bought a TV-worthy game on her iPad, like Transistor or Lumino City, and either of you want to play it on the Apple TV, you’ll have to manually install it by opening up the App Store app, selecting “Family Sharing” and then selecting the user that purchased the app. There you can browse their purchased apps and download them to your Apple TV just like we browsed the “Not on This Apple TV” category above.
Other than the minor hiccup of manually installing old and shared apps, the process is very smooth and all your apps will automatically make the jump from your iPhone to your Apple TV without a hitch.