Most devices have a web browser that comes pre-installed out of the box these days. Apple ecosystems are not exceptional, with even devices like the Apple Watch to easily open a URL received from another device. This, however, has not been the case with Apple TV.
A web browser is useful on the TV, but the traditional TV remote is not intuitive and easy to navigate with. This has prompted Apple to focus mainly on their AirPlay casting feature.
AirPlay Mirroring, however, has its own shortcomings when it comes to the screen aspect ratio. While your TV has a 16:9 display, your iPhone and iPad don’t, resulting in the black bars on the screen.
Alternatively, we will explore how you can also get a native Web Browser on Apple TV. Although it’s not a full-fledged web browser like Safari or Google Chrome, you can do some basic web surfing, play flash videos, and also be able even to open websites.
Basic requirements to make things ready on your Apple TV
- A USB-C cable
- An Apple TV.
Next is to install a Web Browser on Apple TV 4 / Apple TV 4K.
Step 1. To download a web browser onto your Apple TV. We’ll use Xcode, so go ahead and install Xcode from the App Store. It’s free, but the setup file is, however, around 5 GB, so ensure that you have a fast internet connection.
Step 2. Connect your Apple TV and Mac with a Type C cable and launch Xcode on your Mac.
As by the writing of this article, we’re using Xcode version 13. In the case with Apple TV 4, however, if you are using Apple TV 4k, which doesn’t have a USB-C port, you can still wirelessly connect it to your Xcode)
Step 3. Next, open the web browser on your Mac and go to this GitHub URL. On the GitHub page, click on the green tab on the middle right of the page that says ‘Clone or Download’. Copy the URL from a small pop-up window.
Step 4. Launch Xcode and click on ‘clone’ under the ‘source control’ tab on the menu bar.
Paste the URL you copied from the GitHub page and click on the clone button.
Step 5. You will see a pop-up window with a checkout menu, choose “master”, then press “Clone”
Step 6. Choose a location folder and a name for your file, and click on ‘clone’ again. Here we have named it tvOSBrowser, and the location is in the “Documents”, then click on the clone button.
- Navigate to the folder where you save the cloned files.
- Open the ‘projects’ folder from the finder window, which will display all the cloned files, in the main Documents folder.
- Right-click on ‘Browser.xcodeproj’ to open in Xcode.
Step 8. Click on the Build Switch that has a play sign to build the project.
Because ‘UIWebView’ is not available on tvOS, a notification that says ‘Build Failed’ will likely be displayed on the screen.
Step 9. Open a Finder window and navigate to the Applications tab. Locate Xcode and right-click on it to choose ‘Show Package Content’.
Next, go to Contents > Developer > Platforms > AppleTVOS.platform > Developer > SDKs > AppleTVOS.sdk > usr > include.
Open the file ‘Availability.h’ and look for the following lines below. It is located around line 317 and 318 on any editor you open with.
- Replace the word UNAVAILABLE with AVAILABLE.
- Save the file “Availability.h” and return to the Xcode project page.
- Click on ‘build’ again, and you now have a web browser on your Apple TV.
This is currently one of the most compatible browsers for your Apple TV. It provides a smooth and easy browsing experience on HDTV devices.
Some of AirWeb’s most useful features are:
- It is automatically compatible with any iOS device as long as it supports AirPlay Mirroring and uses AirPlay to show the web pages directly on your Apple TV.
- Once connected, it creates a trackpad and controls on your touchscreen iOS device, allowing you comfortable browsing without even glancing at your iOS device.
- It also takes full advantage of the width and height of your HDTV.
The downside, for now, is that it’s still not perfectly optimized to work flawlessly, and is only available on a limited number of devices.
Supported Devices as per the writing of this article include:
- iPad Mini, iPad Mini Retina
- iPad 2, 3 and 4
- iPad Air 1 and 2
- iPad Pro(s)
- iPhone 4S, 5, 5S, 5C, 6, 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus
- iPod Touch 5th gen
Of importance is, to use it wirelessly, you will need an Apple TV 2, 3, and 4.
This browser is the new favorite among many users. It is easy to configure, all the frequently favorite websites are preloaded in the background and allow you to store them also, with an option to easily access from the menu bar.
Furthermore, it comes with an option to try it before you decide you want to purchase it.
This browser is fast, efficient, and loaded with amazing features. It can be connected to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod. It also has a gestures feature that can be used to browse through pages. Users are capable of browsing multiple tabs and bookmarking them. The TV pointer is easily guided with the touch on your iOS device.
The only downside is, it is available fully-fledged with features only when you buy the subscription bundle of the web browser.
Web for Apple TV
It is one of the most popular browsers for your Apple TV. It lets you take control over your big screen and browse through it smoothly without any glitches.
A few of Web for Apple TV’s most prominent features are:
- You can use an iPad or iPhone as your remote control.
- The pixels are enhanced to make your browsing experience better.
- It supports intuitive gestures.
- Browsing, zooming, and watching videos are a tap away.
It can connect to only Apple TV 2 and 3 wirelessly. For Apple 1, it requires an HDMI/VGA cable.
This is not a web browser, but one of the easiest and quickest ways to browse the web on your Apple TV.
AirPlay is used to stream or share content from your Apple devices to your Apple TV, AirPlay 2-compatible smart TV, or Mac. It allows the user to stream a video, share photos, and even mirror exactly what’s on their supported device’s screen.
You can easily access iTunes and iCloud content directly from your Apple TV, and even display all kinds of audio or video content stored locally on your device.
You can also play games from your mobile device and stream content from third-party apps and services to your Apple TV.
The only requirement is an iPhone, MAC, or iPad as long as they are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
The major drawback is you won’t be able to scroll or browse your iOS devices while you’re mirroring its screen to your Apple TV.
Apple TV is still an emerging and growing field in the digital world and is still not officially available from the parent company. Apple developers are definitely working to improve it to ease the use with the options available.