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How to Design and Develop An App for the APPLE TV?

How to Design and Develop An App for the APPLE TV

4 Way Technologies is a leading SMART TV app development company across the globe. We provide robust and feature-rich Apple TV applications for the betterment and growth of your organization. We have a talented team of app developers who are proficient in delivering top-notch Apple TV applications within the promised timeline.

This article deals with the knowledge of the designing and development process of an Apple TV application.

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. How to Create a TVML Application?
2.1. Setting up Your Server
2.2. Creating the XCode Application
2.3. Integrating the Components
3. What are Custom Apps and How They are Implemented?
3.1. The Focus Engine
3.2. Ensuring that the already existing iOS elements conform to the tvOS
3.3. Presence of Custom support for the Focus Engine
4. Conclusion


Apple tv app development Apple provides two diverse approaches in designing applications for the APPLE TV. One way for developing apps is using the Television Markup Language (TVML) and the other way is a general iOS app which is a custom method. People who want more customized features in their application definitely opt for the latter method. These two approaches play a critical role in helping the designing and developing of applications for the APPLE TV.

How to Create a TVML Application?

While creating the first TVML application, the first step will be to completely set up the server and create the initial TVMLKit Javascript file. People deciding to follow this JavaScript centered approach can build their application with a series of JavaScript pages. You can know more about creating a simple application using the TVML approach. Below is the workflow of the TVML approach in designing and developing applications for the APPLE TV.

TVML Approch

This approach helps in the creation of the applications using TVMLKit Javascript files, the markup language (Apple TV Markup language) as well as the framework. The majority of the TVML applications are usually client-server applications. They should have extensive in-depth knowledge of javascript. While creating your TVML app, you need to follow the below steps:

1. Setting Up Your Server

One has to decide whether to host the content on their own server or through any hosting site. If you decide to proceed with the hosting site, then you have the liberty to leave all the responsibilities of setting up the server to them inclusive of fixation issues.

The developer needs to decide whether the content should be hosted on their own server or through the hosting site. You can opt for the hosting site as all the server outages are usually taken care of by them.

The only drawback would be that you will have to wait for a specific period for the hosting site to fix the problem. Setting up your own server will indeed provide a great level of control over how the content is being organized and you become filly responsibilities for the server functionalities and resolving its errors.

Irrespective of setting up the server on your own server or through the hosting site, you should necessarily know the path to the initial TVMLKit JS file. This is the place from where all the TVML page templates can be easily accessed. The below image shows how a TVML application can be created after the server is set up.

LG TV Application

2. Creating the XCode Application

The APPLE TV template applications should be designed using the Xcode. Such apps point towards the initial TVMLKit JS file. While creating some template app, you need to select the select tvOS option, then choose an application and then the TVML application. Once the name of the product is entered, the skeleton of the app gets created.

Two major static constants get created namely tvBaseURL and the tvBootURL. The former contains a URL pointing to the server, while the latter contains the exact location where the initial TVMLKit JS file is found. The standard web server is needed in order to host the assets from which you will be able to access the templates. The below image shows the different templates available for the project to be created in your Xcode application.

The Apple TV temple applications are designed and created in Xcode. These are generally simple applications that point to the initial TVMLKit JS file for the application. To create a new template application, you will need to select the tvOS -> Application -> TVML application.

3. Integrating the Components

Once the server is fully set up and the creation of the Xcode application is done, you should then create the initial TVMLKit JS File. The major purpose of this JS file is that it must definitely implement the App.onLaunch function. These functions must serve the purpose of parsing the TVML code into the Document Object Model (DOM tree), as well as push the DOM tree into the navigation stack.

Now, the JavaScript files can be created with the code in them. The next step is to change the already present tvBootURL constant to the AppDelegate.tvBaseuRL/(first JS file name). Care should be taken that the local server is run from the same directory where the initial TVMLKit JS file is also present. Creation of the dynamic pages can be known here.

The biggest advantage of using TVML is the presence of simple, compound elements as well as the templates. The limitations while using TVML is that it is suited only for the lightweight apps that are not suited for gaming apps.

What are Custom Apps and How They are Implemented?

These are usual iOS apps which are extended to adapt to the tvOS SDK. This approach requires an extensive usage of Swift or the Objective-C languages. Over the last few years, many people have begun to use this approach in designing and developing the applications for the APPLE TV.

The following are the steps for successful implementation of the application:

1. The Focus Engine

The focus, in general, refers to the onscreen effect as well as indirect user input from the input device. The developer must surely rely on a remote that incorporates the Focus Engine to focus on a particular item using the remote swiping gestures. It must be remembered that not all items are focusable and that users easily change the focus by choosing the direction on their remote.

Storyboards and elements must be designed ensuring that they are conducive to the single focus navigation. The other point to be noted is that only the user is capable of changing the focus completely, changing the focus and the focus gets completely managed by its environment.

2. Ensuring that the Already Existing iOS Elements Conform to the tvOS

It is a happy fact that many Apple frameworks like the UIKit support the focus engine thereby can be used for creating apps for the APPLE TV without additional code. The UITextField, the UISearchBar also has focus support thereby supporting the design of apps for the Apple TV.

With the help of the UIFocus Environment, the developer can easily dictate the steps on how each UI element reacts to the changes that happen around. This will provide access to all the focus environments, also the movement of the focus as well as its response.

3. Presence of Custom Support for the Focus Engine

The users will have to design the custom UI elements for focussing since these will lack the inherent focus support. Users can completely design their own UI elements, determine their own functionalities and also be able to gain access to the updates in the Focus Engine. In case for the user interface elements that lack inherent focus support, the developer will need to come up with an implementation of their own customer behavior for the purpose of focusing.

The biggest striking advantage of this approach is that one can design robust iOS apps with a high level of functionalities. If one had to design an app with only video or audio content with fewer functionalities, it would be wiser to opt for the TVLM approach.

The latest update from Apple is that a very new updated Apple TV iteration has been released. The biggest highlight of this release is that it has ensured the framework as a completely fully-fledged third-party developer’s platform. With the new introduction of the Siri-powered remote, users are now able to experience gesture navigation and other high functionalities that are developed by the coders by using either of the approaches.


We hope you will find this blog helpful. After going through this article, you will be easily able to understand the development and designing process of Apple TV applications. If you are a developer, this blog can also help you in building your own Apple TV app even if you are on a beginner level.

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