Tampa Bay UX: Apple TV Resources

anitra pavka apple TV UX presentation

tampa bay user experienceThis is a page of resources for attendees of the Apple TV UX presentation at the Tampa Bay UX Group Meetup that Anitra Pavka (pictured above) presented on my behalf and took place on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Thanks for attending!

Here’s a SlideShare of the presentation deck:

Download the presentation slides and demo scripts

download zip

The presentation slides (in PowerPoint .pptx format) and demo scripts (PDF format) are available for download as a single ZIP file (35MB).

Straight from the source: The HIG (Human Interface Guidelines)

apple logo

Articles on designing tvOS apps

tvos ui tips

Apple TV is still new, so there aren’t that many articles on designing for it yet. Here are some notable ones:

Getting started with tvOS app development

development on a mac


xcode icon

The first things you’ll need are a Mac and Xcode, the IDE (integrated development environment) for all Apple development. Xcode is necessary for developing not just tvOS apps, but iOS apps and Mac OS applications as well.

Xcode comes with a simulator, which lets you test your apps without having to deploy them onto a device. While the simulator lets you test tvOS apps without the need for an Apple TV, there’s no substitute for the real thing.

Xcode is available for free, and the easiest way to get Xcode is to install it using the Mac App Store. The download and installation process can take a while (30 to 90 minutes, depending on the speed of your connection and your Mac).

The San Francisco fonts

san francisco font examples

You’ll also need to download San Francisco, the standard family of fonts for all Apple UIs. You’ll need an Apple Developer account to get them.

An Apple Developer account (optional, but you should get the free one)

There are two kinds of Apple Developer accounts:

  1. Free: Not technically a developer account, but additional privileges added to your Apple ID that let you deploy apps from your computer to your own Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. It also gives you access to Xcode Developer Tools, Xcode beta releases, developer forums, and more.
  2. Paid: For $99 a year, the paid developer account gives you full developer privileges, including being able to deploy apps not just to your own computer, but a decent-sized group of testers, and to the App Store.

If you’d like to be able to deploy apps to an Apple TV, you’ll need at least a free developer account. The video below shows you how to get one:

An Apple TV and USB-C cable (optional, but recommended)

apple tv ports

If you’re serious about learning how to build interfaces and apps for Apple TV, you should get one. If you subscribe to Netflix or any other streaming service supported by Apple TV, you have another excuse to get one; it’s simply the best streaming set-top box on the market. At $200 for the 64GB model and $150 for the 32GB one, it’s reasonably priced. If you search online, you may be able to find a sale (at the time of this writing, there was a Groupon where the 32GB model was priced at $120).

In order to deploy apps to an Apple TV, you need a USB-A-to-USB-C cable. The USB-A end has the familiar-look looking plug that goes into your computer and looks like this:

usb-a plug

USB-C is a newer plug type. It’s skinny, and unlike USB-A, it’s reversible, which means that there’s no “wrong” way to plug it in. It looks like this:

usb-c plug

USB-A-to-USB-C cables are still rare and hard to find at Best Buy and even the Apple Store. Your best bet is to find them online. I recommend Monoprice’s cables, as they’ve received Google Engineer Benson Leung’s blessing (he’s been leading the campaign against low-quality USB-C cables).


ray wenderlich books

swift apprentice

While there are a few tutorials online, I strongly recommend that you use RayWenderlich.com’s books on tvOS development. They’re well-written and very thorough, and far more informative than anything I’ve found online, especially for people new to tvOS development and especially development in general.

  • tvOS Apprentice: This is the book on getting started with tvOS app development. All you need is some basic knowledge of the Swift programming language, and the book covers the rest: building apps both the “traditional” way (very similar to iOS development) or the new way, using TVML (an HTML-like markup language to specify a tvOS app’s UI and content) and TVJS (JavaScript and the necessary APIs to program interactivity into a tvOS app). I’m working my way through this book at the time of this writing, and it’s quite good.
  • 2D iOS and tvOS Games: If you’re looking to get into game development, this is a great book to start with. You’ll need some basic knowledge of the Swift programming language, but you don’t need to know anything about programming games: along with introducing you to Apple’s Sprite Kit programming framework, it also teaches game programming fundamentals. I have this book, and I’ve learned a lot from it.
  • Swift Apprentice: The two books listed above require that you have at least a basic working understanding of the Swift programming language. This book will help you get to that point, and well beyond! If you’re a beginner to programming, you’ll be pleased to know that Swift is one of the more pleasant programming languages. If you’ve done work in JavaScript, you’ll be pleased to know that Swift is a lot nicer to work with than JavaScript. This is a great resource for the beginning programmer.

You may also want to take a look at these online tutorials:

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