Netflix was a major missing piece of Apple’s new TV app when it launched last month, and that’s still the case despite some confusing coverage recently. The confusion is around how Apple’s TV app works with search and opening video apps.
Apple’s TV app lets you manage a single watch list for movies and TV shows across different video apps, discover new content from different services, and track progress from shows you regularly watch.
Videos aren’t actually played in the TV app with the exception of movies and TV shows purchased from iTunes on iOS. If you want to play Saturday Night Live with your Hulu account from the TV app, hitting play will kick you over to the Hulu app where the video is actually played.
Apple makes the experience seamless so it feels like using one app but you have the familiar controls of the Hulu app.
Separately, Apple supports searching content on Netflix since tvOS introduced universal search using Siri or the Search app, and this extends to the search tab in Apple’s TV app.
This means you can search for House of Cards in the TV app and see that it’s available in iTunes and Netflix. You can even add House of Cards to your watchlist in the TV app since it’s on both iTunes and Netflix, but pick a show like Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life that is exclusive to Netflix and it can’t be added to the TV app’s watch list.
What makes this a little more confusing is that search results list an open button for launching apps the first time, then that button becomes a play button going forward.
Netflix still doesn’t work with the Up Next feature on Apple’s TV app, just shows that Netflix has overlap with providers that do work with the TV app. You also won’t find Netflix content promoted in the TV app’s browse section that helps you discover new content.
HBO, Hulu, and a lot of paid video apps do work with Apple’s TV app, but Netflix is not one of them yet. Hopefully Netflix and Apple work this out soon which should make the TV app more useful for users, but for now the TV app is just benefiting from search features that already existed.