Apple TV ‘Watch Now’ tab is a mess now

A redesign of Apple’s TV app, which first rolled out in November, is now widely available to everyone, and users aren’t happy. With the new design of the TV app,[今すぐ見る]Tabs have been overhauled, with a huge new banner at the top and auto-playing videos and audio. No customization options…

This new design for the Watch Now feature in the TV app was first previewed during the tvOS 16.2 beta test in November and was heavily criticized at the time. Interestingly, Apple listened to that feedback and made one notable adjustment.

The first version of the new Watch Now design for the TV app added a new “Featured” row at the top of the design. This meant that the more useful “What’s next” line moved down, and you had to scroll down to see the queue.

In the version of the TV app currently rolling out to Apple TV users, that “recommended” row no longer exists. Instead, the Up Next queue keeps the top position for easy access. Unfortunately, Apple’s trade-off for this is an aggressive, giant banner at the top that cycles through so-called “featured” content.

This “Featured” content is presumably selected by the editors. This means you’ll see content from apps integrated with TV apps like HBO Max and Hulu, and of course Apple TV+ content. Worse, you’ll also see giant banners of content you’ve already watched.

This banner plays audio as well as video previews of featured TV shows and movies. Hover your tvOS cursor in this banner area for just one second and the preview video and audio will start automatically.

Lead image by Reddit user GnarlsD

9to5Mac’s take

[今すぐ見る]Old design of tabs. No banner ads or featured content[次の動画]The queue was prominently displayed.

This is a very disappointing change for Apple. It’s encouraging that the company listened to feedback and didn’t push the “next” queue all the way down the page, but this new design is still a huge step backwards.

In the new design, the “Next” queue is essentially sandwiched between a giant banner preview above and a section dedicated to Apple TV+ content below. This makes it easy to overlook, but this is certainly what Apple intended with this redesign.

The worst part about this new design is the complete lack of customization. You cannot reorder the rows of content, disable “Featured” content, or customize the type of content displayed in that banner area.

In an ideal world, you could tick the box to revert to the previous design, but that’s not an option. Instead, audio and video autoplay every time you open the TV app on your Apple TV.

I’m not the only one frustrated by these changes. A Reddit thread is filled with complaints from Apple TV users calling the new design “obviously, absolutely, utterly horrible.”

[設定]Apps >[アプリ]>[TV 自動再生ビデオ サウンド]You can disable autoplay audio by going to Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the overall design problem, nor does it stop the video preview from autoplaying.

Most users don’t know how to go to the Settings app and disable audio autoplay. That leaves most Apple TV users with the cluttered new Watch Now tab that autoplays audio as well as video.

It’s a shame to see Apple emulating the user interface tricks of other companies’ streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu, but perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

There’s clearly data and user research showing that engagement with these types of designs is on the rise. The question is, is it legitimate engagement or are you being forced to “engage” by taking a few more swipes to find the content you actually want to see? My guess is the latter.

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