Back in June, Apple announced it would bring third-party VPN support to the Apple TV. It was the final bullet point in a press release issued during WWDC, but far from being boring and unimportant, it means Apple TV owners could install VPN apps just as those with Amazon Fire TV Sticks and other streaming devices that natively support VPNs.
It’s important because it means you can now get around regional blocks and, say, watch shows on Netflix that aren’t available in your country.
Previously, the only way to fool streaming services into believing you were in a different country using a VPN was to configure a suitable router with your VPN details, or set up a computer (such as a Windows laptop) with a VPN and share its internet connection with your Apple TV.
Neither approach is even remotely convenient, and requires a level of technical knowledge to set up. But now that tvOS 17 is out, owners can simply go to the App Store and download a VPN app. There are a few available, with ExpressVPN being the first big-name service to appear at the start of December 2023.
Now, NordVPN has followed suit, having been fairly cagey until recently about whether it would develop an app and, if it did, when it would be available.
It turns out the wait was much shorter than expected and the app is now in the store ready to download. All you need is a current NordVPN subscription.
Streaming services play a cat-and-mouse game with VPN providers, because they’re firmly against any tricks that allow subscribers to circumvent regional blocks and watch content that isn’t licensed in their county.
And so this is why NordVPN doesn’t talk explicitly about this capability, saying that it protects your Apple TV, your privacy and can help with “issues that smart TVs face, such as internet restrictions”.
It frames this as a benefit that allows you to watch home content while you’re abroad, which is a pretty legitimate use as far as most people are concerned. If you pay for Amazon Prime, you should be able to watch Prime Video no matter where you are in the world.
Another benefit of using a VPN on your Apple TV is to avoid any throttling your ISP might apply based on your activity. In other words, the privacy aspect means your ISP won’t know what you’re doing and therefore there’s less of a chance your 4K video stream will end up buffering.
Like ExpressVPN’s app, Nord’s allows you to choose the best VPN server automatically, or choose a specific location from the 60 countries it covers. Even if you have fast broadband, NordVPN won’t slow your connection: it uses its NordLynx protocol which is based on WireGuard and is widely known to be one of the fastest consumer VPN services out there.
There’s currently no news on when Surfshark – NordVPN’s sister company – will release its own Apple TV app, but it is said to be coming soon.