Update: Apple contacted @hugelgupf to provide a workaround. Apparently, fully signing out of iCloud and back in on the Apple TV will prompt terms and condition screen which can be accepted on the same device. Weird. Original story below.

A viral tweet today highlights a somewhat frustrating limitation with the Apple TV software. As of a recent software update, tvOS expects users have access to an iPhone or iPad in order to do things like accept new iCloud terms and conditions, or update their Apple ID settings.

Although most people who use the Apple TV 4K box are deeply ensconced in the Apple ecosystem, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Up until recently, the Apple TV could be used essentially independently. It was assumed to be a standalone device, not an accessory. Not so much, anymore. Moreover, these changes mean Apple TV users who have Macs — but no personal iOS devices — are also left in the lurch.

Most of the Apple TV can be used without needing access to other Apple hardware. You can set up the Apple TV from scratch completely independently, install apps, and make purchases. Typical Apple ID management duties can be performed from a web browser on a PC, if occasionally necessary.

However, there are some tasks — seemingly more prevalent than ever as of tvOS 16 — that the Apple TV expects you to do on an iOS device signed in with the same account.

This viral tweet from @hugelgupf showcases perhaps the most egregious example: accepting new iCloud terms and conditions requires an iOS device.

Rather than allowing users to read and accept the new terms on the Apple TV on television itself, the box says you must use an iOS device to do it. Specifically, an iOS device running iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 or later.

In addition to alienating people who possess no other Apple devices at all, the minimum OS requirement means that someone with a new Apple TV but an old-generation iPad, for example, is also left stranded.

A similar prompt can appear requesting customers ‘update Apple ID settings’ by bringing their iPhone near the Apple TV.

In both cases, these prompts can be temporarily dismissed. But they frequently recur until they have been dealt with. Some system features may not be available until they are resolved. Yet, if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad handy — one that can run the latest OS version that is — there’s simply no way to do that.

Based on these barriers, the Apple TV cannot be considered to be a standalone device anymore, even though a non-zero percentage of people have used it that way for many years up to now.

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About the Author

Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.