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(Pocket-lint) - Apple has finally launched its long-awaited "single sign-on" feature.

But there are a few things you need to know about it before you can jump right in. For instance, it's only available in one country right now, and it only works with a handful of cable providers and apps at launch. Confused? Allow us to explain. Here's everything you need to know about the new single sign-on feature for Apple TV (fourth-generation) and iOS devices, including what it is and how to set it up.

What is Apple single sign-on?

The days of having to enter your cable account login details into every individual TV-streaming app on your Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad are numbered. It just depends on where you live and your cable provider. On 6 December 2016, after a couple months of teasing, Apple rolled out its single sign-on feature, which allows you to enter your cable account's username and password just once and then automatically be signed into all the other apps on your device that also require those login credentials for viewing.

Here’s Apple’s support page that explains the feature.

Which providers support Apple single sign-on?

The following cable providers and subscription-based services in the US support Apple single sign-on (so, if you're a customer of one these, Apple will accept your login credentials when you set up single sign-on):

  • CenturyLink Prism (part of CenturyLink's fiber optic arm)
  • DirecTV (satellite TV provider owned by AT&T)
  • Dish Network (satellite TV provider)
  • GTA (cable provider only available in Guam)
  • GVTC (broadband provider only available in Texas)
  • Hawaiian Telcom (provider only available in Hawaii)
  • Hotwire (fiber optic cable TV provider)
  • MetroCast (provider only available in nine states)
  • Sling TV (digital subscription service for cord-cutters)

Which apps support Apple single sign-on?

With Apple single sign-on, you should only need to enter your login credentials for your cable provider once, as apps supporting the feature will then have automatic access to those credentials, eliminating the need for you to manually sign in again on every single app. Now, just because your cable provider supports Apple single sign-on doesn't mean all your apps and streaming services will automatically log in for you.

Apps need to add support for the feature, at which point they'll then require you to update them. Also, supported apps might differ between your Apple TV (fourth-gen) and iOS device, and also based on which TV provider you use. Yeah. Not exactly simple, right? Sill, here's a list of supported apps that currently offer Apple single sign-on (on certain devices anyway).

Note: Apple TV (fourth-generation) runs tvOS.

  • ABC (iOS and tvOS)
  • A&E (iOS only)
  • Bravo Now (tvOS only)
  • Disney Channel (iOS and tvOS)
  • Disney Junior (iOS and tvOS)
  • Disney XD (iOS and tvOS)
  • E! Now (tvOS only)
  • Freeform (iOS)
  • FXNOW (tvOS)
  • Hallmark Channel Everywhere (iOS and tvOS)
  • History (iOS only)
  • Lifetime (iOS only)
  • NBC (tvOS only)
  • Syfy Now (tvOS only)
  • Telemundo Now (tvOS only)
  • USA NOW (tvOS only)
  • Watch HGTV (iOS and tvOS)
  • Watch Food Network (iOS and tvOS)
  • Watch Cooking Channel (iOS and tvOS)
  • Watch DIY (iOS and tvOS)
  • Watch Travel Channel (iOS and tvOS)

You will need to authorise every app you plan to use with single-sign on. Once you've setup the feature, that's as simple as opening the app and selecting OK to authorise the sharing of your subscription data. You'll only have to do that once. To find even more apps that support single sign on-in the future, go to the Settings app on your Apple TV, then Accounts > TV Provider, and select Find More Apps. That's it.

How do you enable Apple single sign-on?

Apple TV (fourth-generation)

  1. Go to Settings > Accounts > TV Provider
  2. Choose your TV provider
  3. Sign in with your TV-provider account credentials (username/password)

iOS device

  1. Make sure that your device is running iOS 10 or later
  2. Go to Settings > TV Provider
  3. choose your TV provider
  4. Sign in with your TV-provider account credentials (username/password)

If you sign in from an iOS device that uses iCloud with the same Apple ID as your other devices, then all those devices will already be signed in to your TV provider. If you'd like to disable Apple single sign-on, all you have to do is open the Settings app, go to Accounts > TV Provider, and select Sign Out. 
After you sign out, apps will revert to individual authentication options.

Where is Apple single sign-on available?

Apple single sign-on is currently only available in the US.

Writing by Elyse Betters. Originally published on 9 December 2016.