Apple TV+ launches November 1 but what is it exactly? Here is FlatpanelsHD's guide to the new streaming service, apps, picture/audio quality, the plus, and much more.
Apple TV+ streaming service
Apple is launching Apple TV+ in over 100 regions, including the US and Europe. Apple TV+ content will be available from within the Apple TV app on the Apple TV box - and other devices. That's almost too many apples so let us zoom out for a moment.
Since 2012, rumors have swirled that the company was exploring launching a TV service. Back then, it was described much like those services that are today bleeding customers or giving up. Apple has clearly been flirting with the idea but in the end it decided to build a direct-to-consumer streaming service on a foundation of its own content rather than another studio's library. It launches with only a handful of titles - see the table below. The company says that more content is coming soon.
In that sense Apple TV+ is different from Netflix, which offers an extensive catalog. Apple is emphasizing that it is focusing on quality over quantity, but the lack of breadth is also reflected in the price, which is $5 or €5 per month - even lower in some regions. If you have purchased a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod Touch after September 10, 2019, you will also get a free one-year trial (log in with the same Apple ID and the offer should appear after November 1).
What type of content can viewers expect to find? At launch, Apple has prepared expensive TV series such as See, The Morning Show, and For All Mankind. There is Oprah Winfrey's book club. There are some kids shows, too. Initially, you will have a few episodes available streams, with additional episodes coming weekly. There is no live content - at least not yet.
Leading up to the launch, some media reports portrayed Apple's content strategy as safe and family friendly but that is clearly a misrepresentation. Several launch titles carry a TV-MA rating; unsuitable for children under 17. Other programs are intended for children or families. There does not seem to be a unifying theme other than perhaps its American roots. That will change. By the end of 2020, Apple will be forced to meet EU's 30% content quota, if it wants to operate in the EU.
Apple TV+ is ad-free.
Apple TV+ - according to Apple
These Apple TV+ originals from the world’s most celebrated creative artists will debut on the Apple TV app on November 1:
See an epic drama starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, is set 600 years in the future after a virus has decimated humankind and rendered the remaining population blind. When all humanity has lost the sense of sight, humans must adapt and find new ways to survive.
The Morning Show a cutthroat drama starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and starring Steve Carell, explores the world of morning news and the ego, ambition and the misguided search for power behind the people who help America wake up in the morning.
Dickinson a darkly comedic coming-of-age story, explores the constraints of society, gender and family through the lens of rebellious young poet, Emily Dickinson.
For All Mankind a new series from Ronald D. Moore, imagines what would have happened if the global space race never ended and the space program remained the cultural centerpiece of America’s hopes and dreams.
Helpsters a new children’s series from the makers of Sesame Street stars Cody and a team of vibrant monsters who love to help solve problems. It all starts with a plan.
Snoopy in Space a new original from Peanuts Worldwide and DHX Media, takes viewers on a journey with Snoopy as he follows his dreams to become an astronaut. Together, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts crew take command of the International Space Station and explore the moon and beyond.
Ghostwriter a reinvention of the beloved original series, follows four kids who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighborhood bookstore, and must team up to release fictional characters from works of literature.
The Elephant Queen an acclaimed documentary film and cinematic love letter to a species on the verge of extinction, follows a majestic matriarch elephant and her herd on an epic journey of life, loss and homecoming.
Oprah Winfrey joins the world’s most compelling authors in conversation as she builds a vibrant, global book club community and other projects to connect with people around the world and share meaningful ways to create positive change.
More Apple TV+ originals will be added to the Apple TV app each month, including:
Servant a new psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.
Truth Be Told a gripping new series starring Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and Emmy Award winner Aaron Paul, explores America’s obsession with true crime podcasts and navigates urgent concerns about privacy, media and race.
Little America inspired by the true stories featured in Epic Magazine, brings to life the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and surprising stories of immigrants in America.
The Banker a feature film inspired by a true story, stars Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson as two African American entrepreneurs who try to circumvent the racial limitations of the 1950s and quietly provide housing loans to the African American community in Jim Crow Texas. Nia Long and Nicholas Hoult also star.
Hala a feature film and official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, follows a high school senior struggling to balance being a suburban teenager with her traditional Muslim upbringing.
How to watch Apple TV+
As mentioned, content will be available from within the Apple TV app. It was relaunched in May 2019 and is available on Apple TV (with tvOS as well as the discontinued Apple TV4), iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
In addition, the app is available on 2018 and 2019 Samsung TVs, select Roku TVs and players, and select Fire TVs and players. It is coming later to 2019 LG TVs, select 2019 Sony TVs, and 2016-2019 Vizio TVs. Content will also be available to enjoy in browsers via tv.apple.com. Lastly, viewers will be able to push content wirelessly from an iPhone, iPad or Mac to an AirPlay-compatible TV.
On the flip side, the app is missing on most other TV devices. From Android TVs (there is a way to sideload the FireTV app) to most Smart TVs. You can of course always buy and connect an Apple TV via HDMI but it is not as affordable as many other streaming players.
The plus in Apple TV+
The plus in Apple TV+ is the key to understanding the launch. Why is Apple suddenly so interested in producing its own movies and TV shows? The company seems to have no desire to produce music or games. That is because the Apple TV app has been designed to be an app that unifies content from multiple services and providers so you no longer have to jump from app to app to enjoy your content. Apple TV+ is designed to help kickstart the project and lure more content partners into the fold. For Apple, this is a multi-billion dollar opportunity; an opportunity to establish itself as the full-service TV provider of tomorrow. Pouring a few billions into content production along the way may be what it takes.
The Apple TV app is not cable TV version 2.0, though. You decide what you want to watch or subscribe to. The app features universal search and personal recommendations, depending on the user. You can also rent or buy movies individually, as the iTunes film library has been merged into the app.
In many regions Apple TV 'channels' have yet to go live and not everyone is interested in participating. Netflix has refused the offer, while Disney has accepted. You can see which partners are onboard in your country here.
Apple TV+ will be available in over 100 regions on launch day. With the push of a button, it becomes an international streaming service. The company has reportedly spent $6 billion on content. For comparison, Netflix's content spending is $14-15 billion annually.
Apple TV+ apps, picture & audio
Apple TV+ is a streaming service and like Netflix it will automatically adjust picture and audio quality to match your TV or playback device's compatibility as well as your internet connection. With the right equipment, you can enjoy video in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision HDR as well as Dolby Atmos object-based audio. Unlike Netflix, Apple's highest audio/picture quality is included without additional cost.
On an iPhone or iPad you will be able to download content for offline viewing. The company says that content will be subtitled and/or dubbed in nearly 40 languages, including subtitles for the deaf.
An Apple TV+ subscription provides access for 6 family members via the 'Family Sharing' feature. There is no need to share your account or password. Family sharing can be set up under your Apple ID settings. Each family member will have a personal viewing profile. This also means that Apple TV+ offers up to 6 simultaneous streams.
The app's user interface is in some regions divided up into multiple categories as seen below. It supports notifications for new episodes or upcoming sports events that you have marked. These features will be expanded to more regions later.
The app looks similar across supported TV devices and platforms but there are some technical differences. On the Apple TV box you can swipe left/right to explore more titles in full-screen mode. An iPhone or iPad on the same network will automatically bring down a text field for you to input our text or search query on Apple TV or compatible TVs. At this time, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos are exclusive to the Apple TV box, meaning that other TV devices will be limited to 4K HDR10 and 5.1 surround sound. In other words; the company's own device will offer the best picture, the best audio, and the best user experience.
There is an 'Up Next' queue that lets you add content from Apple TV+and partner services. Below you will find personal recommendations based on your viewing history. You can turn off personal recommendations from settings, if you prefer.
How do we get started? Open the Apple TV app on a compatible device or go to tv.apple.com from November 1, 2019. We encourage you to share your experiences and tips in the comments section.
- Apple TV+ launches November 1, 2019, in over 100 regions for $5 or €5 per month after a free 7 day trial. If you have purchased new Apple hardware you are most likely eligible for a free one-year trial.
- Apple TV+ content is available from within the Apple TV app.
- Streaming video is available in 4K Dolby Vision HDR and up to Dolby Atmos.
- Up to 6 family members can share one Apple TV+ subscription through Family Sharing. 6 simultaneous streams are allowed.
- Content can be downloaded for offline viewing on mobile devices.
- Content will be subtitled and/or dubbed in nearly 40 languages
- Apple TV+ is ad-free.