One of the big uses of VPNs is to watch region-locked content, but until recently, you weren’t able to use them on Apple TVs. That’s now changing with the help of one of the bigger names in VPNs, ExpressVPN, which has released its app for tvOS. ExpressVPN will let Apple TV users connect to servers “in any of 105 countries around the world” so they can watch shows and movies and know that the IP address being reported to outside servers isn’t their own.
To download it, you’ll need to make sure you’re on tvOS 17 — earlier versions don’t support native VPN apps at all. Once set up, the app will route your traffic through faraway servers before forwarding them to whatever streaming service or other internet server the Apple TV contacts. ExpressVPN on the Apple TV uses the company’s Lightway protocol.
Reddit users reported spotting the app last week. Most said they could switch countries to get around region restrictions, though some had issues logging in or getting it to work with specific apps. It’s also a basic experience that lacks advanced VPN features like split tunneling, which dynamically applies the VPN connection to certain services as needed, freeing users from managing it manually. (Notably, this feature isn’t available on newer versions of macOS, either.) ExpressVPN says new features will be available to beta testers.
When Apple added native VPN support earlier this year, the company made it sound like it was mainly for business and education users, which gave another popular VPN provider, NordVPN, pause. Now that it’s clear that ordinary folks can use it in ordinary ways, NordVPN representative Egidijus Jurgelionis told The Verge in an email that it’s on board and plans to release an Apple TV app in the “forseeable future,” an encouraging sign for Apple’s device. PureVPN and other smaller names also recently released VPN apps for the platform.
While VPNs are a nice-to-have, it’s helpful to remember that bopping your connection around the internet can slow things down. If you already have a sluggish internet plan, streaming with a VPN turned on could make for bad video or audio quality. And as much as users may enjoy skirting region restrictions, streaming services very much do not approve of it.
ExpressVPN also announced it had updated its Android TV app, which now has QR code sign-in, dark mode, and tweaks to make it easier to change server locations.