For those fortunate enough to have an Apple TV, or those who have already acquired a free one, there is a high probability you are missing out on one of its best features. In simple terms:
When an app is placed on the top row of the Apple TV’s home screen, it gets imbued with hidden superpowers – Apple calls it Top Shelf and it’s one of the best kept secrets in Streaming TV – here’s why…
Apple TV Top Shelf – How it Works
From the Apple TV home screen, when a top row app icon is highlighted, the content in the top two-thirds of the screen changes to display content specific to that app. For most apps, this is just a logo or splash screen – that’s the bare minimum requirement that Apple requires of app developers. However, savvy app developers can do MUCH more than that – and when they do, their apps can become much more useful and engaging.
Apple TV Top Shelf – The Apps that do it Best
Apple’s own TV App provides a glimpse of the power of the Top Shelf functionality available to all apps – at least to those whose development teams go the extra mile to program for it. As you can see from some of the examples below, apps like Channels, Plex, Netflix, HGTV and a few others have gone beyond (well beyond in the case of Channels and Plex) the bare minimum and added enhanced interactivity here.
Apple TV Top Shelf – Missing in Action on Some Popular Apps
Unfortunately, not all apps have followed the example set by Apple’s TV App and excellent examples like Channels, Plex and others. For example, the following apps merely show a static image: ESPN, YouTube, Amazon Prime, DIRECTV NOW, Sling, Vue to name a few. That’s discouraging considering the sizable development teams behind those apps – especially when compared to the relatively small team behind Channels. For users it’s a huge missed opportunity. For example, here’s all you’ll get with YouTube:
I’m struck by how little publicity this feature gets from both app developers and from Apple themselves. By now, Apple’s near complete lack of tvOS evangelism is well-known. As Brad Gibson’s BestAppleTV.com site has chronicled on more than a few occasions, despite being a truly standout product in its space, the Apple TV continues to suffer from a virtually non-existent marketing and product evangelism effort from Apple.
What do you think? Are you an Apple TV user? Do you have examples of apps that utilize top shelf that you’d like to share or comment on. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below: