Tab Bars

In many Apple TV apps, a tab bar across the top of the screen is the primary means of navigation. Below the tab bar is a content area that shows content related to the active tab. A tab bar tells people where they are in an app and makes it easy to navigate elsewhere or initiate an action, such as a search.

When in focus, a tab bar covers the top 140 pixels of your content area. It’s translucent by default, allowing any content beneath to peek through. A tab bar is always positioned at the top of the screen, but quickly slides away when not in focus, providing an unobstructed view of your content.

Apple TV home screen showing Tab Bar navigation

In general, use a tab bar to organize information at the app level. A tab bar is a good way to flatten your information hierarchy and provide access to several peer information categories or modes at once.

Use badging to communicate unobtrusively. You can display a badge—a red oval containing a white number or exclamation point—on a tab to indicate that new information is associated with that view or mode.

Use badging judiciously. Don’t overwhelm people by presenting huge amounts of new or important information.

Avoid having too many tabs. Each additional tab increases the complexity of your app, making it harder to locate information. Aim for tabs with short titles to avoid crowding and causing tabs to fall off the screen when the tab bar is in focus.

Don’t remove or disable a tab when its function is unavailable. If tabs are available in some cases but not in others, your app’s interface becomes unstable and unpredictable. Ensure that all tabs are always enabled, and explain why a tab’s content is unavailable. For example, the Music tab in iTunes shows a screen explaining how to download songs if there are no songs to list.

Match tab bars to your app’s visual style. Apply a tint or adjust opacity to match a tab bar to your app’s color scheme and style.

For developer guidance, see UITabBarController and View Controller Programming Guide for iOS.


Stick with short, text-based tab titles. In general, a concisely written title is cleaner and more straightforward than an icon, which can easily be misinterpreted. Give tabs short titles to avoid crowding and pushing them offscreen.

Use meaningful nouns or verbs as tab titles. A title clearly identifies the type of content to expect when a tab is selected. In general, titles should be nouns (such as Music, Movies, and Genres), but in some cases, verbs may be more appropriate (such as Play and Search).