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Eye on Demand | September 26, 2017

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Apple TV 4 & Global Television – For Smart DNS Users

Apple TV 4 & Global Television – For Smart DNS Users

It may have been noticed by now that we’re really excited by the Apple TV 4, especially for global television viewing via Smart DNS. In fact, I can tell you one thing right now, this set-top-box looks to be the Smart DNSer’s dream machine. If you want a way to easily watch content from all over the world, whether it is BBC from the UK, Plus7 from Australia or Hulu from the US, we’ll show you how!

Back when the ATV3 was first launched, outside of Roku there really wasn’t a lot of serious competition in the streaming set-top-box stakes. These days however the competition is stiff, with the Amazon Fire TV and Nexus Player (along with gaming consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One) even allowing back-door ways to mix apps from multiple countries onto a single hub – the holy grail of Smart DNS users.

Until now, the only two major STBs that didn’t offer this was the Apple TV and Roku, but with the new Apple TV 4, Roku is the last holdout in this regard.

That’s right, the new Apple TV 4 can mix apps from multiple countries onto a single hub, meaning you can have Hulu from the US sit next to TenPlay (from Australia), TVPlayer or the BBC iPlayer (from the UK) or Watchever & Zattoo (from Germany), and it is incredibly easy to do as well. As long as you have a good Smart DNS service to unblock geographic restrictions, it will be possible to switch seamlessly between the multinational apps.

Global Apps

What is Smart DNS? It’s a way to easily unblock geographic restrictions so that users of the Apple TV (and many other devices) can access content from around the globe which is normally blocked unless you live in a specific country. The advantages of Smart DNS over VPNs are numerous, but two of the best are that it can unblock multiple countries at the same time, and avoids the traffic bottlenecks plagued by VPNs. There are a lot of Smart DNS companies out there, but we recommend one of the following:

 

Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

 

  • Available Apps

    Before we get into the nitty gritty of how well the new Apple TV works for Smart DNS users, at the end of the day it is only as good as the apps that are actually available. After-all, Android TV has been out for a while now, with various set-top-boxes from Asus (like the Nexus Player), Nvidia Shield, and baked directly into many Smart TVs – yet outside of the US, there are still virtually no worthwhile streaming apps available.

    The last Apple TV was also notorious for its lack of support outside of America. Although faring a little better than the Android TV, in many countries, with the exception of AirPlay or iTunes, it was about as useful as a paper weight.

    But now the Apple TV 4 has a 3rd Party App Store, meaning developers and broadcasters alike can easily port their own apps across to the new platform – and just like iOS’s app store, there is every chance this will fill up far quicker than many of its main competitors.

    The list below includes apps we thought were worth mentioning at the time of publication, and is sure to grow over time.

    United States:

    • Netflix
    • Hulu
    • HBO Now/Go
    • Showtime/Showtime Anytime
    • CBS
    • ABC
    • NBC
    • PBS
    • PBS Kids
    • Fox Now
    • FX Now
    • USA Now
    • Disney
    • Disney XD
    • Disney Junior
    • A&E
    • Lifetime
    • History
    • Nat Geo TV
    • Smithonian Channek
    • FYI
    • Fusion
    • Watch ESPN
    • NBA
    • NFL
    • NHL
    • NBC Sports Live Extra
    • Willow TV

    United Kingdom:

    • Netflix
    • BBC iPlayer (including live streams)
    • TVPlayer
    • Zattoo
    • Sky News
    • NowTV
    • iBox UK
    • MagineTV

    Australia:

    • Netflix
    • Stan
    • ABC iView
    • TenPlay
    • SBS On-Demand
    • Crackle
    • (Plus 7, TenPlay, & 9Now have all been announced for a later release)

    New Zealand:

    • Netflix
    • 3Now

    Canada:

    • Netflix
    • shomi_
    • Cravetv
    • CBCNews
    • NFBFilms
    • Crackle

    Germany:

    • Netflix
    • Watchever
    • ZDF
    • Arte
    • Zattoo
    • MagineTV

    Ireland:

    • Netflix
    • Sky News
    • iBox.ie (for live and catch-up Irish TV streams)

    Italy:

    • Netflix
    • RAI

    Global:

    • YouTube
    • Crunchyroll
    • Plex
    • VLC
    • TVStreams (for live TV channels)

     

    While this is a far cry from the Roku or Amazon Fire TV in regards to app quantities (at least in the country where those two are available), it is already better than the Nexus Player in many regions and will no doubt grow quickly. (Until it improves, you can supplement the apps with airplaying from an iPhone or iPad if you have one).

    Some apps like Netflix and Hulu have converted their old ATV apps to follow both their standard conventions, whilst using the new TVOS’s features like blur, global search and wobbly icons. But by far, most apps have just ported their older ATV UI right across without modification in time for launch. Hopefully we’ll see a bit more effort in the coming months as they rebuild their apps for the new OS.

     


  • Mixing Apps

    As already mentioned, the new Apple TV 4 can mix apps from different countries onto a single Hub. Whether this is by design or not is a debatable question, as it does require separate iTunes accounts from each country you wish to add apps from.

    Essentially, this is the same principle as used by iOS, so if you already have these iTunes accounts set up, all the ground work has already been done – in fact, it is even easier to switch than with your iPhone or iPad as previously used accounts are all remembered, so you can quickly flip between them via a single tap on the remote to add new apps.

    If you don’t have iTunes accounts set up in other countries, there is an easy one-off procedure required for each country with a step-by-step guide to be found here.

    Once you switch to a new account, you can easily add an app from the App Store, and keep switching to different accounts until you have all the apps you wish to install – afterwards they will all be found on your main hub.

    A couple of points:

    • People who use iTune’s Match always had a few issues when switching iTunes accounts on iOS, so I have to warn people that I don’t know if the same issues will be seen on this box (as I don’t use iTunes Match at all). I’ll get back with an answer there as soon as I find out myself.
    • Apps seem to update automatically, regardless of which iTunes account is active. When they do update, you should see a small blue dot when you hover over them until you fire up the app again.


  • Global Search

    Global search is another holy grail of Smart DNS users. Actually, everyone can benefit from global search, whether they’re multi-region users or not – it’s just that people who use apps from multiple countries have always found this more difficult.

    Basically, global search is where a user can make a search request, and the results will not just find content from Apple, but also any of their other supported 3rd party apps such as Netflix and Hulu.

    Global search is not new, but it has always been restricted. Roku for instance has kept this limited to their American users, while Amazon basically decided they don’t like their users finding content outside of their own, so they stopped rolling it out.

    Apple on the other hand have stated that not only will their global search work around the world, but it will also be open to 3rd party developers via an API. The catch; at launch only iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO from the US will provide results. We will have to wait until the API is released and further apps are added.

     

     


  • Configuring Smart DNS

    Mixing apps from different regions is only as good as the ability to set up Smart DNS on the device or network. Without Smart DNS, it is not easy to access geographically restricted content.

    Some devices like Roku and Chromecast make this extremely difficult, as they don’t provide adequate networking settings directly on the device, forcing users to configure their routers instead – an operation that is not only more difficult, but not possible on many routers.

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

    However the Apple TV makes this all a walk in the park, with an incredibly easy configuration setting that can have you unblocking geographically restricted content in no time – Just make sure you are signed up to a Smart DNS company such as the ones below, add their DNS servers to your Apple TV and you are away to go!

  • Conclusion

    When the Xbox One and Playstation 4 showed it was possible to mix apps from multiple regions easily onto a single hub, it wasn’t long before many of the cheaper set-top-boxes followed suite. And while this is now possible on the Amazon Fire TV or Nexus Player, the Fire TV’s method is a tad fiddly and Android TV still doesn’t have enough apps to make it worth the effort.

    The ATV4 on the other hand could really be the golden orb for Smart DNS and global TV users. Not only is adding apps from multiple countries easy, but with the prospect of global voice search, and easy switching between accounts, it may seriously end up becoming the Smart DNSers platform of choice.

    With already the most beautiful UI to be found on any streaming device, combined with the above mentioned advantages and a great remote with touch-sensitive pad, the Apple TV 4 looks like it can give any of its competition a decent run for its money, regardless of the price point – and that is taking into account the obvious elephant in the room.

    While omitting 4K support will hardly be noticed in real terms by 95% of potential buyers, it’s omission is still loud enough that the lack of UHD doesn’t go unnoticed. Whether we would use 4K or not, doesn’t take into account the fact that the Apple TV 4 is more expensive than any of its competing STBs, with only major gaming consoles costing more.

    And while it may have huge potential for new apps to arrive in the near future, we can’t hide from the point that right now, the AFTV and Roku boxes have far more apps available in the UK and US than the Apple TV – with the Fire TV also allowing apps from multiple regions to be mixed onto the single hub.

    But the Apple TV still holds out in my mind because of its huge potential. Even despite many more people owning Android smart phones, television streaming apps almost always appeared on iOS before anywhere else.

    If you are a Smart DNS user and live outside one of the countries that sells the Amazon Fire TV or Roku boxes, the new Apple TV is a no-brainer. However, there will be real issues for British buyers, as right now, the Apple TV does not support all then major broadcasters. The chances are that they soon will, but there is always the risk, as small as it is, that this box could go the way of Android TV and be shunned by most media developers.

    Remember, mixing geographically restricted apps onto the Apple TV’s main hub requires a good Smart DNS service to unblock them. We recommend one of the following:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

    Log:

    31.10.2015: First Published.

    14.12.2015: Updated with new services.

    28.01.2016: Updated with more services.


 

Comments

  1. Hideo

    Hi , i have a question , how did you manage to do that , switching between contry with the same apple id needs a valide bank card , is there another methode , or you downloaded them from diferent apple accounts ?
    Thanks

    • Hi Hideo, you need a separate iTunes account for each country, and that requires a different email address for each. You don’t need a credit card for the free apps. Don’t create the new iTunes account on the Apple TV or any other device other than a computer, and follow the steps here.

      • Charity

        Hi ,
        Do you need to change your Apple ID and the region in settings on the ATV4 every time you switch regions with a DNS?

        • You only need to change the Apple ID to install apps that are restricted to specific regions. For instance, the BBC iPlayer just arrived today, so you would need to switch to a UK account to install it, and SBS on-demand also arrived, so that would require a switch to an Australian account to install.

          Switching is incredibly easy once you have the different accounts set up. It is simply a matter of clicking the alternate account in the settings and you have switched – you don’t have to keep re-entering passwords once they are saved.

          Once you have the apps installed though, you don’t need to switch Apple IDs to use them. As long as your Smart DNS supports them, just use them at will. It really is quite amazing.

  2. Hideo

    So many thanks

  3. Hi
    Ignoring for the moment that the Apple TV4 box currently doesn’t offer the UK All 4 and ITV apps, how does it compare with the Roku 3 box and Amazon Fire TV box when using DNS for accessing TV from just the UK? Are there any pros & cons of using the TV4 over the Roku or Fire TV box(es)?
    (To date I have never even touched an Apple device of any sort!)

    • Hi AncientBrit. If you just want to watch UK television from abroad, right at this moment the 2nd generation (4K) Amazon Fire TV is the best option – mainly because it has the best range of supported apps: BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport, All 4, ITV Hub, Demand 5, UKTV Play and TV Player. It is also relatively easy to set up for the UK either for the app store and Smart DNS configuration. (Older models don’t yet have ITV Hub and All 4). The BBC iPlayer apps is also currently more advanced in that it offers “live restart” and Favourites which is not yet on the ATV version (though we expect that to arrive there sometime).

      But outside of apps, the ATV4 is easier to configure and add apps from other countries (so if you also want to add apps from your own country, the Fire TV is quite fiddly to do so, where’s the ATV4 is a breeze). This is about it really. If the plan is just to watch the UK TV, there is no real need to invest more in an ATV4 as that shines brightest when accessing apps from 2 or more countries. Actually, the ATV 4 currently has issues with changing regions on Netflix.

      As for the Roku, this is a great box for UK TV, but outside of the UK you’ll need a router where you can configure Smart DNS and “possibly” static routes to block Google DNS servers (although the latter is debatable). If this is not a problem, and Netflix is not needed, then I recommend the Now TV Box. £15 is worth spending to get the free HDMI cable, let alone all the UK Apps as well.

  4. Woji

    Hi Joe

    Could you check if these apps would work on Apple TV 4 in UK.
    https://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/france-televisions/id428835098?mt=8
    https://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/6play/id369692259?mt=8
    https://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/mytf1/id407248490?mt=8

    I would like to know it before I buy Apple TV 4.

    Best regards

    Woji

    • Hi Woji, at the moment, none of those three apps are available on the ATV4. I’m always looking out for new streaming apps in the French region though, so I’ll be posting here when they arrive and I’ll test them out for you.