The TV app is a critical part of the Apple TV experience. In fact, it even has its own physical button on the Siri Remote (by default). Apple uses the TV app as the vehicle to unify content from installed third-party video apps, Apple TV Channels, iTunes purchases, and (soon) Apple TV+ TV shows and movies.
However, we have received a handful of reports of people who are currently unable to use the TV app. The TV app simply crashes as the user browses around, usually on the first swipe down in the Watch Now tab. This issue seems to be linked to the latest tvOS 13 update, which introduced a partial TV app redesign.
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The issue appears to affect both Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K devices alike, running tvOS 13.0 (the current public release). It’s not a universal issue, but the problem appears wide enough from reports that we have seen to our tips inbox and on social media to be worthy of coverage. The TV app on other platforms does not seem to be affected by the same problem.
Obviously, crashing so abruptly in a core app hurts the Apple TV experience substantially. Furthermore, the launch of Apple TV+ is just around the corner. As the TV app is the only place to watch TV+ content, people encountering stability issues will simply be locked out from enjoying Apple original TV shows and films.
tvOS 13.2 is currently in developer beta, but we haven’t been able to ascertain if it addresses the crash bug with the TV app for affected users. Installing a tvOS beta is dangerous, as there is no easy way to go back and revert the installation as the latest Apple TV set-top box lacks a USB port (although we recently found out there is a special Lightning diagnostics port hidden away). Apple may also be able to stop the crashes with a server side update, depending on the exact cause of the bug.
While we are on the subject of tvOS 13, users are also annoyed at a change to the functionality of Top Shelf for the TV and Music apps. tvOS 13 introduces a new full-screen panoramic design for Top Shelf, but users are frustrated that Apple has changed the content feeds used. Previously, the TV app would show the Up Next queue as its Top Shelf items, allowing easy one-click access to start watching new episodes of what the user was previously watching.
Similarly, the Music app would show Recently Added albums. In tvOS 13, Apple now shows essentially an ad reel of suggested top shows and movies to buy and rent, rather than what the user is actively engaged in. The Music app Top Shelf pivoted to promoting music videos.
These changes have frustrated Apple TV owners who would often use the Top Shelf as the primary navigation to their watch queue, often not even launching the actual TV app. That convenience has been removed, and instead, users are now presented with what is essentially advertising, with autoplaying trailers nonetheless. Unfortunately, the latest tvOS 13.2 betas have not done anything to address these complaints; the Top Shelf remains unchanged in the developer seeds.
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