The TV App Gets a New Sidebar Design in tvOS 17.2
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The TV App Gets a New Sidebar Design in tvOS 17.2

Alongside the bigger changes coming in iOS 17.2, Apple also pushed out a new tvOS 17.2 beta with an interesting design tweak in the TV app.

While software updates for Apple’s set-top box aren’t usually all that fascinating — many point releases feature no user-facing changes at all — tvOS 17.2 takes another step away from the more traditional top-menu design that’s been a staple of the Apple TV since the first model arrived over 15 years ago.

So far, the change only affects Apple’s TV app, but it could be a sign of things to come. Instead of the top menu bar for navigating between categories like Watch Now, Apple TV+, Library, and Search, tvOS 17.2 places these in a sidebar, which has the advantage of allowing for even more “channels” of content to be displayed.

For example, the new sidebar highlights MLS Season Pass as its own section, which makes sense since it’s an entirely separate subscription. There are also the Sports and Store tabs for focusing on those more specific areas, mirroring the design of the TV app on iPadOS. However, the tvOS update combines those into a single section rather than breaking them out into “Movies” and “TV Shows.”

Below that is a “Channels & Apps” section that includes any Apple TV Channels you may have added to the mix, such as Paramount+ (if you’ve subscribed to it through the TV app rather than the standalone Paramount+ app).

Speaking of movies and TV shows, the legacy duo of “iTunes” apps also lives on in tvOS 17.2, at least in the first beta, despite a recent report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman that revealed these will be going away as part of a more extensive TV app overhaul.

To be fair, this is only the first beta of tvOS 17.2, so there’s still time for these to disappear. Earlier this week, Gurman reported that Apple is planning to release a redesigned TV app “around December as part of an upcoming tvOS software update,” which sounds like the timeline for when tvOS 17.2 will be publicly released. The new app is intended to help consolidate all of Apple’s “various video offerings” under one roof — something it already essentially does, although not exceptionally well.

As Gurman predicted, the new sidebar is the first step toward this redesign, and there could be more coming by the time tvOS 17.2 launches later this year. The iTunes Movies and iTunes TV Shows apps are already something of an anachronism — leftover apps from a bygone era before streaming services took the focus away from movie and TV show purchases and rentals.

The pair of apps was once the only way to access content directly from Apple on its set-top box, including purchased items in your “iTunes in the Cloud” library and new purchases and rentals from iTunes. However, that functionality has long since been rolled into the main TV app, making these other two apps redundant.

The Computers app also still lives on in tvOS 17.2 for those who still prefer to access their media content from a Mac or PC running iTunes (or its post-Catalina equivalents). There’s been no word about Apple pulling this, but it’s unlikely to do so, considering that even macOS Sonoma still supports Apple’s Home Sharing feature.

Removing the discrete iTunes Movies and iTunes TV Shows apps has more to do with consolidation than anything else; the Computers app still serves an essential purpose for those who have a local media library or prefer not to stream all their media content from the cloud.

Gurman adds that Apple will also be removing the movie and TV show sections from the iTunes Store app on the iPhone and iPad, returning it to its roots as a place solely for purchasing music. These remain in place in the first iOS 17.2 beta, although that could change by the final release; it’s also likely that Apple could turn these off with a back-end change since most of what appears in the iTunes Store app is fed directly from Apple’s back-end servers.