February 19, 2016 - No Comments!

Intro to tvOS for Apple TV

With the recent launch of the updated Apple TV it was about time to sit down and take a look. The launch of Apple TV and it's tvOS SDK (similar to iOS) will allow developers to build out their tvOS app using Javascript, TVML and Swift, and also add their apps to the Apple TV's own app store.

This article acts as a very brief overview on tvOS apps and provides some further reading links. If you are looking to build out your first tvApp this article is a good starting spot.

2 Ways of Building tvOS Apps

From a developer's point of view its important to introduce the 2 ways in which we can build out our tvOS apps, Apple have presented us with 2 ways to develop tvOS apps.

• TVML Apps: They make use of TVML, TVJS and TVMLKit - think of xml layouts and JS controllers.
• Custom Apps: Using the more familiar iOS frameworks, such as UIKit, AutoLayout and even Storyboards.

Those familiar with iOS workspaces will be well on their way picking up the custom apps way of working. Writing native code and making use of many ui elements which can also be found in UIKit.

What are TVML, TVJS, TVMLKit?

With the introduction of tvOS, Apple have introduced a few new anocryms to break up the technologies used to create tvOS apps.

TVML is the abbreviation of Apple’s Television Markup Language. In its most basic form it is a form of XML that is used to create individual views inside of a client-server app. TVML is the setting stone of the templates developers are able to use to layout their views within their tvOS apps.

TVJS is the name given to the set of Javascript APIs which allow developers to display the apps we present with the use of TVML.

The TVMLKit framework is what holds all of this together to package the JavaScript (TVJS) and TVML files into the tvOS apps.

Which Route?

It would be fair to say that the TVML route of development is aimed more at beginners or those wishing to creating more intuitive/ familiar apps. Making use of the common tvOS views seen in Apple's own apps. For example if the purpose of your project is to build out a video catalogue of your content using Apple's guidelines - TVML is perfect as it provides an easier, faster way to build out tvOS apps with the common features and UI components.

Those looking to add more advanced features (e.g. custom/ advanced UI, analytics, crash reporting) would be better suited to custom builds. Through personal experience this may be more beneficial to larger clients who may wish to customise and extend the experience as their user base grows.

Getting Started

For those looking to build their first tvOS apps - here are some great articles...

Design Guidelines

Apple's tvOS Human Interface Guidelines are a great place to start in familiarising yourself with the concept of UI Elements and Apple TV templates.

• Apple's tvOS Human Interface Guidelines


Apple: Your first Apple TV app
Ray Wenderlich: Beginning tvOS Development with TVML Tutorial
Introduction to tvOS: Building Your First tvOS App

Published by: nick in IOS/ XCode, Swift, TVOS

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