Remote

The primary input method for Apple TV is the Siri Remote. The remote, coupled with the focus experience, connects people to the TV from across the living room.

Using a few core gestures, people can navigate tvOS apps, browse channels (also called zapping), play and pause content, and make selections. The best tvOS apps echo the simplicity of the remote by providing a simple, streamlined user interface and user experience.

Don't redefine or repurpose standard tvOS gestures. Unless your app is a game in active gameplay, redefining the meaning of standard gestures leads to confusion and complexity. People are familiar with the standard gestures and don’t appreciate being forced to learn different ways to do the same thing.

Apple TV Remote

Gestures

The remote’s touch surface detects a variety of intuitive, single-finger gestures. To build a physical sense of connection with your content, use these gestures as defined below.

Swipe

Swiping lets people scroll effortlessly through large numbers of items with movement that starts fast and then slows down, based on the strength of the swipe. When people swipe up or down on the edge of the remote, they can speed through items very quickly.

Certain swipes can also produce specific results:

  • Up from the bottom reveals a content footer
  • With no initial click, right or left from the edge changes channels
  • After an initial click, right or left from the edge moves the system-provided scrubber to a playback location
  • Down from the top reveals the system Info Panel

Click

People click to activate a control or select an item. Sometimes, people can click and hold to trigger context-specific actions, such as entering an edit mode. Also, people click before swiping to activate scrubbing mode.

Tap

Tapping navigates through a collection of items one-by-one. In apps with standard interfaces based on UIKit, tapping different regions navigates directionally. For example, tapping the top of the touch surface navigates up. Some apps use tap gestures to display hidden controls.

Be consistent with the tvOS focus model. tvOS uses the focus experience throughout the system to forge a strong connection between people and the content they're viewing. Reinforce this link in your app by ensuring that you combine gestures and the focus model in ways that are familiar to people.

Help people discover how to navigate. In your app, provide clear cues that show people what will happen when they make gestures. For example, lightly resting a thumb on the remote shows people where to swipe down so that they can reveal an info panel.

Define new gestures only when it makes sense in your app. People are familiar with the standard gestures and don’t appreciate being forced to learn different ways to do the same thing. In games, custom gestures can be a fun part of the experience. In other apps, it’s best to use standard gestures so people don't have to make an effort to discover or remember them.

Differentiate between click and tap, and avoid triggering actions on inadvertent taps. Clicking is a very intentional action, and is generally well-suited for pressing a button, confirming a selection, and initiating an action during gameplay. Tap gestures are fine for navigation or showing additional information, but keep in mind that people may naturally rest a thumb on the remote, pick it up, move it around, or hand it to someone else.

Consider using the position of a tap to aid with navigation or gameplay. The remote can differentiate between up, down, left, and right tap gestures on the touch surface. Respond to positional taps only if it makes sense in the context of your app and if such behavior is intuitive and discoverable.

Buttons

In addition to the touch surface, which also operates as a clickable button, the Play/Pause button on the Siri Remote is accessible to your app or game. Buttons should behave consistently and predictably in the context of your app or game.

Apple TV Remote

Button Expected behavior in an app Expected behavior in a game
Touch surface (tap/swipe) Navigates.
Changes focus.
Tap behavior varies.
Swiping performs directional pad behavior.
Touch surface (click) Activates a control or an item.
Navigates deeper.
Performs primary button behavior.
Menu Returns to previous screen.
Exits to Apple TV Home screen.
Pauses/resumes gameplay.
Returns to previous screen, exits to main game menu, and/or exits to Apple TV Home screen.
Play/Pause Activates media playback.
Pauses/resumes media playback.
Performs secondary button behavior.
Skips intro video.

NOTE In all apps, Play/Pause immediately starts playback when people press it on a thumbnail of live or video-on-demand content or on an item in an electronic program guide (EPG). In a live-viewing app, a click in the EPG can start live streaming or reveal a detail view for the item. For more guidance, see Live-Viewing Apps.

Provide a way back to the previous screen and out of your app or game. People expect to press the Menu button on the remote and return to a previous screen or the main Apple TV Home screen. Pressing Menu at the top level of an app or game should always exit to the Apple TV Home screen. During gameplay, pressing Menu should show or hide an in-game pause menu that includes an option to navigate back to the game’s main menu.

Enable the Play/Pause button during media playback. When playing music or video, pressing the Play/Pause button should perform the expected behavior—play, pause, or resume.