App Accessibility on Apple TV versus fire TV

tvOS and Apple TV Apps

I have 2 Toshiba TVs that run the fire OS and soon to be an Apple TV owner. how does the accessibility of apps on Apple TV compare to that of fire TV? i'm mostly concerned with the essential apps such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney+. i'm getting the Apple TVs because I have spectrum and they do not offer an app for fire TV.



Submitted by Jim D on Wednesday, March 4, 2020


I also have both an Apple TV as well as an Amazon Fire TV. In general, I would say apps are more accessible on the Apple TV as Voiceover is a little more developed than Voiceview. One of the best hints I can give you when learning to navigate apps with Apple TV is to turn the rotor and try different settings. For example, some apps don't work well until you turn the rotor to direct touch. I can't speak to Disney Plus, but I use Netflix on a regular basis and it works well.
Hope this helps.

Submitted by Josh C. on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

are there any accessibility issues using the Apple TV remote in control center on my iPhone 8? would that be easier to use than the remote that comes with the Apple TV?

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, March 5, 2020

I find that, after the initial learning curve for the Apple TV fourth Generation remote, I have had great success with it. A previous poster mentioned the direct touch feature of the rodor. I have also found that this works the best for me, as well. The top half of the Apple TV remote is a touch pat. You can swipe on it and when you have found your selection, a simple press down, until it clicks, will start playing your item. For the apps that I use, I have found that swiping to the far left of a row will often lead you back to the different options like home, TV shows, movies, search, etc. Press the track pad on one of these and you have just changed your sort to show different selections. Sometimes apps have this same functionality running across the top of the interface, instead of along the left side. The SIRI button is also very nice. For example, you can say things like, "show me some John Wayne movies". SIRI will search all apps that you currently have installed on the Apple TV and will then give you a list. I find this works best if on the home screen of the Apple TV, however. If memory serves, I believe there are some podcasts or written materials on this sight, which will also help you to become more acquaintede with your new Apple TV. Happy watching.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Thursday, March 5, 2020

I prefer the remote on my phone because you don't have to go picking a different device. Once you get used to it, I find that the remote app on the iPhone works great. Again, it is a matter of personal preference, and there is no right or wrong answer to this question.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, March 5, 2020


Could you remind me, does the app on the phone have the ability to turn the TV on and off and change volume? What I'm saying is, do you need the TV/Apple TV remote anyway?

Submitted by Josh C. on Friday, March 6, 2020

I should be getting my Apple TV's tomorrow. It sounds like there is a little bit of a learning curve but hopefully it isn't that big of a deal. thanks to everyone who responded.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Friday, March 6, 2020

When I had my Apple TV 4K my samsung controller could control it which was actually really nice. Naturally, lost the Siri aspect but assuming you have your phone to hand, you can still use that to issue TV commands via Siri and the Apple TV remote.

Apple TVs, hands down, are the most accessible TV box out there which is also reflected in the price. I think you'll have a great time with it.


Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Friday, March 6, 2020

Hello Olver. If memory serves, I believe you still need the remote anyway. Due to the fact that I have a soundbar attached in my system, I chose not to utilize the Apple TV remote to control volume. Also, the Apple TV remote does not have the capabilities of turning on/off the power of the TV.


Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Friday, March 6, 2020

The physical remote can turn on and off the TV as long as it has CEC, likewise with volume control for TV and sound bars. I was just wondering if the remote app could access all of those functions too. I too had a 4k a while back but foolishly sold it.

Submitted by Dave Nason on Friday, March 6, 2020

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I agree that the Apple TV is a great box with good accessibility, but I must say I’m not a fan of the remote control at all. It’s a terrible design. Swiping offers no real benefit over a remote with buttons, such as the Amazon Fire remote.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Saturday, March 7, 2020

Hello Oliver. Just wanted to say thanks for posting about CEC. Until your mention of this feature, I had never heard of it. Appreciate you sharing the info. Gotta love AppleVis.

Submitted by Josh C. on Saturday, March 7, 2020

thanks to everyone who responded. I think I'm going to really enjoy my Apple TVs. that's probably going to be my main TV source, but if I find that an app is not accessible on the Apple TVs, I have the built-in Fire OS on my Toshiba TVs to fall back on.

Submitted by Josh C. on Saturday, March 7, 2020

In reply to by Oliver Kennett

hi Oliver, is CEC The same feature on the fire TV called HDMI set device control? do I need to have HDMI set device control turned on on my Toshiba fire TVs for The volume and power button on the Apple TV remote to work? how do I set up CEC on the Apple TV?

Submitted by Brian Giles on Monday, March 9, 2020

Interesting topic. I don't currently own a TV but am kind of tempted after playing with a smart TV during training with my new guide dog. It was an LG TV with web OS, and everything I played with seemed pretty accessible. I was able to log into my Disney Plus account (although doing that with the on screen keyboard was a huge pain), but browsing and playing content worked fine. The remote wasn't designed well IMO though, although it had braille to indicate the power button and volume/channel rockers. The buttons for getting around the software were hard to find by touch though, and I found myself hitting the wrong button more than once. It also used that not so pleasant Samantha compact voice, and even at the lowest volume level, was way louder than the TV content itself, which was really annoying.

I'm wondering how necessary the Apple TV box is since all TV's are smart now, and are all accessible, at least to some degree. Hmmmm... maybe I'll have to play with the Apple TV some more the next time I'm at an Apple store. Or maybe I could just get a second homepod and just keep air playing everything from my phone.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Monday, March 9, 2020

In reply to by Josh C.

I believe it should already be on on both devices, it's what allows things like sound bars or games consoles to all turn on and off together. I've not got any experience with the Toshiba Fire tv but it certainly sounds like the more user friendly name for CEC. As for the Apple TV, going on memory, if you go into settings and remotes you should be able to see how it is currently set up. It is most likely on automatic, but it is also possible to have volume control a sound bar whilst power deals with just the TV. I'm afraid I can't provide any more help than that without knowing your setup better.

Regarding apps, they are more likely to be accessible on your Apple TV than the fire tv platform, at least in my experience here in the UK with apps such as BBC iPlayer which is perfect on Apple TV and unusable on fire tv.

Let us know how you get on.

Submitted by Josh C. on Thursday, March 12, 2020

I agree with the poster who said that he didn't like the Apple TV physical remote at all. it is a pain to navigate with it, but that may just be because I'm not used to it. I have been spoiled by my fire TV remote with buttons. everything is intuitive on the fire TVs but there seems to be a learning curve with the Apple TVs. i'm going to experiment with the phone remote app and see if I can do any better with it. if I remember correctly there is something in the accessibility settings on the iPhone that allows the user to change some things on the Apple TV remote app so I'm going to experiment with that.

Submitted by Josh C. on Thursday, March 12, 2020

I just figured out that if I enable CEC on my Toshiba fire TV that the fire remote will control my Apple TV. The home button only works on the fire TV and not the Apple TV, and I don't know about the microphone button, but navigation does work with the fire remote.

Submitted by Ryan Dour on Sunday, March 22, 2020

One thing I have not seen mentioned yet is that in direct touch mode, you can perform edge taps instead of using swipes to move the native TV cursor. If you touch the top, bottom, left, or right edge of the touch pad, you will perform a single cursor element move. This is not a "click" but instead just a tap, like a tap on your phone's screen. Tapping quickly moves once per tap, so you can accurately move quickly.

Another method if you prefer swipes is using the follow focus rotor. In this mode, a swipe up, down, left, or right moves the TV cursor by one item. Clicking the touch pad still activates items.

In direct touch and follow focus, pressing and holding the play button, found directly to the left of the volume down portion of the volume rocker, will read all non-focusable elements on screen. As an example, in the Movies store, this will read the general information about a movie when viewing the details page. By default this info is read automatically, but if you want it repeated, pressing and holding play for a moment will speak the info again.

Submitted by Troy on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

I would call my experience as it relates to the battle of the screen readers on pc. I have found that apps that don't work with voiceover work on fire tv, apps that don't work on fire tv work with voiceover and some may work fine for both.