Friday, January 19, 2018

Two-factor Authentication for Old Apple TVs

I’ve been using two-factor authentication with my Apple ID for a while now, and I found that this prevented me from signing into the account on my Apple TV 2. I would enter and submit my password, and then it would ask for the two-factor verification code. The map and code would indeed pop up on my iPhone, but there was nowhere on the Apple TV to enter the code. There was just an OK button, which would take me back to the login screen.

The solution comes from Apple forum reader appmacwmm: you can go to Settings ‣ iCloud on your phone to get the verification code first, then enter it into the Apple TV after your password (in the same text box) before it asks for the verification code. It’s a convoluted procedure that I can’t imagine most users figuring out on their own, and the Apple TV’s interface prompts are of no help.

Previously: Strange Apple ID Sign-In Locations.

Update (2018-01-22): See also: Dan Masters.

Update (2019-01-07): Erica Sadun:

This is the furthest I’ve ever gotten from “it just works” in Apple’s ecosystem and a user experience that gives me great pause.

9 Comments RSS · Twitter

Five bucks says this is not intentional and just a consequence of this being the way it is implemented.

@Jesper Do you mean that the error string about the verification code is coming back from the server and not part of the Apple TV software itself? That’s probably the case because I think the last software update was well before Apple introduced two-factor.

You don’t have to do it first on another device. You can instead try your password once, it will fail but you’ll get a prompt on your other device. Then try again appending the code. It sucks that this doesn’t seem to be documented.

@D Yes, although that means you have to type your password twice with the on-screen keyboard (or Remote app).

Ran into the same issue for my mother-in-laws old AppleTV (3generation, I think, might have been 2g) and found a post that describes it as well. We had actually already tried that but they key is that there is a timeout involved so you need to get and type in the code, send for authentication and then press enter for the code. Otherwise, by the time you type it in with the AppleTV super-slow UI, it has expired. Ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous. This kid of sh*t really sucks and really makes Apple look like crap in the one area where they are supposed to be THE experts, UI and experience. Sheesh.

Is this a limitation of the 2nd generation? Or maybe old software?

We recently hooked up an old 3rd-generation Apple TV. After running software update, I was able to login using just my password and then -- on the Apple TV itself -- was prompted for the 2FA code. This was in Jan. 2019.

Sounds like the same procedure I have to do on my old Mac. But at least the dialog box actually says to do this.

Just in case someone doesn't track the process, here is what I had to do with my 3rd generation AppleTV. Took me way to many tries! Try to play a song or a show on the AppleTV at which point you will be prompted to enter your AppleID password. It will then say iTunes is currently unavailable. This will send the two-factor authentication to your Macbook, iPad or iPhone. Once you have the code, don't click "done" on your device yet, instead try playing a song or show again on your AppleTv which will prompt you for your AppleID password. This time, type in your password but don't submit, immediately type the code you received right after your password, with NO SPACES between them and NO SPACES between the code numbers. Before you "submit" on your AppleTV, click "done" on your device you received the code, then hit "submit" on the Apple TV. This way the code doesn't time out. That is what finally worked for me.

@Danny Houde, thank you for sharing your experience, I was able to fix my Apple TV

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