How To: The 7 Coolest Hidden Features for Your iPhone's TV App

The 7 Coolest Hidden Features for Your iPhone's TV App

Whether you subscribe to Apple TV+ or not, the TV app on your iPhone is a great place to watch movies and TV shows. On the surface, it looks like a pretty straightforward app, but hidden features are lurking in the shadows that can enhance the way you use it.

First, there are the obvious moves you should be making for the TV app. Connect your cable or satellite provider — or just individual streaming apps you subscribe to — so you have easy access to all of the content within those services. The TV app becomes a one-stop destination for finding content to watch, and it'll give you a link to open the title up in the streaming channel's own app if it can't play it.

Then there are the other basics you should customize, like subscribing to Apple TV Channels you don't already have access to, changing your streaming and download quality, adding content to Up Next, and so on. But there's more to it than that, and some of the best features are truly hidden.

1. Change the Artwork in Up Next

In the new iOS 15.4 update, there's an option in Settings –> TV –> Up Next Display that will let you choose between "Still Frame" or "Poster Art" as the image shown for each title in your Up Next queue. The still frame will show the frame where you left off, while the poster will show the title's default cover art.

Still frames (left) vs. poster art (right) for in-progress titles.

2. Clean Up Shared with You

Shared with You first appeared in iOS 15, and it shows you content that your friends share with you via Messages directly in the content's host app. For Apple TV, that means any movie or TV show links you get in a text message or iMessage will appear in a "Shared with You" section in TV's Watch Now tab.

That's great, but it can get cluttered with content you have no interest in watching. To make it show only movies and TV shows you want to watch, go to Settings –> Messages –> Shared with You, then toggle off the "Messages" switch. Now, only content you pin in a conversation will appear; Long-press the Apple TV link in the message and hit "Pin" from the quick actions to pin content.

Before (left) and after (right) disabling TV in Shared with You.

If pinning Apple TV content in your Messages app sounds like too much work, you could also just remove recommendations made by one or two friends. That way, you only see content from friends with similar tastes in Shared with You. To do so, open the conversation with the consistently bad recommendations, tap the name up top, then toggle off the "Show in Shared with You" switch. However, this will also hide shared content from Music, Safari, Photos, Podcasts, and Notes.

3. Reduce Loud Sounds When Wearing Headphones

Not every movie or TV show has a perfect audio balance so that you can hear whispering but not go deaf from explosions. To combat that in the Apple TV app, go to Settings –> Sounds & Haptics –> Headphone Safety, then toggle on the "Reduce Loud Sounds" switch. Adjust the decibels rating to the most comfortable position for your ears from the slider that appears. Any change will apply system-wide for headphones, not just for the Apple TV app.

4. Customize the TV App's Interface

Choosing a dark or light appearance for the Apple TV app is just the start of the customization options. Go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Per-App Settings –> Add App. Choose TV from the list, then go into its preferences. Here, you can set bold text, text size, button shapes, contrast, transparency, labels, motion, and more. And these settings apply only to the TV app.

5. Use Dark or Light Mode Only

Notice that the Per-App Settings doesn't include a Dark/Light mode switch? If you prefer the Apple TV app's UI to only use Dark Mode or Light Mode, there's a perfect workaround: Shortcuts automation. You'll have to build a couple of automations in the Shortcuts app, and they are a little bit above the beginner level. However, we walk through everything step by step, so you should have no issues setting it up.

6. Add Other Languages to Downloads

If you prefer downloading movies and TV shows over streaming, you can embed any supported audio or subtitle language into the file. Doing so does increase the size of the download, but it's better than having to download it again with the correct language. Go to Settings –> TV –> Languages (under Download Options) –> Add Language. Pick the language you want, then repeat for other languages.

Not all languages are available for all videos, so you may or may not see some or all of your selections as options during playback.

7. Change How Subtitles Look

When you need subtitles, they can either help you hear what's said on-screen or block essential visuals in the film or TV show. To customize the look of subtitles, go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Subtitles & Captioning. Next, choose your style or tap "Create New Style" to design one yourself. These changes will also apply to other apps that show subtitles, like Netflix, so keep that in mind.

Keep Your Connection Secure Without a Monthly Bill. Get a lifetime subscription to VPN Unlimited for all your devices with a one-time purchase from the new Gadget Hacks Shop, and watch Hulu or Netflix without regional restrictions, increase security when browsing on public networks, and more.

Buy Now (80% off) >

Other worthwhile deals to check out:

Cover photo and screenshots by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

Join the Next Reality AR Community

Get the latest in AR — delivered straight to your inbox.

Be the First to Comment

Share Your Thoughts

  • Hot
  • Latest