Apple TV Plus and the new Apple TV app, explained

Here are some conclusions from Apple's event focused on today's software: Apple TV Plus is a subscription service with just originals from Apple. Unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, you do not have access to a later catalog of movies or licensed programs.

Apple TV Plus is not a standalone, independent application. Instead, you can use Apple's TV application, which is expanding to many more devices in the coming months.

Starting in May, the Apple TV app will offer additional paid subscriptions and you can stream some shows and movies from Apple partners like HBO without having to fire a third-party video service.

All this is separate from Apple TV the product which is a streaming decoder that you can buy in stores today and is important to the ambitions of the Apple room. The company would tell you that Apple TV is the best way to experience all this art and content.

Confused? It was easy to miss some of this or get confused, especially when Apple grouped these ads together with a new credit card and a magazine subscription service.

How do all the new TV things fit? Let me do my best to expose it in a way that makes sense.

What is Apple TV Plus?

Apple TV Plus is a video subscription service that will feature Apple's growing list of original movies and TV shows. When it launches this fall, Apple TV Plus will be the exclusive way to see that content. And Apple has invested money in forming a talent roster full of stars that work to produce a program that, hopefully, can be matched with the best Netflix programs. Even Oprah is on board.

But Apple TV Plus is not a proprietary application or a separate experience. Actually, it will be accessible through the Apple TV application on iOS, Mac and other platforms. You probably have your own tab or dedicated section of the TV application, but Apple did not give specific details in today's event, and the Apple TV Plus website is extremely light on details. The best thing we got was a brief look at a row of Apple TV Plus with eye-catching animations during today's presentation.


The service will be free of advertising (since you will pay for it) and Apple plans to launch it in more than 100 countries.

What is not Apple TV Plus?

  • A true competitor to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video: As Peter Kafka correctly predicted in Recode Apple is not yet building a full streaming service that mixes original and licensed programming as its rivals. In contrast, the Apple TV Plus service focuses exclusively on Apple's original programming. There are no older things to go around without stopping, like we do on Netflix or Prime Video. There are no Hollywood movies or past TV hits to talk about. Not yet, anyway.
  • On Android or Windows: Although it announced a TV application for several platforms (including Fire TV), Apple gave no indication that the service and its originals are available on Android or Windows. That's a big hole if the company expects these high profile shows to be accessible to as large an audience as possible. The native applications for these platforms, at least at this moment, do not seem to be in the cards.
  • On the web: The same goes for web browsers. Apple did not mention how to transmit Apple TV Plus through popular desktop browsers such as Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

When can I watch Apple TV Plus?

Apple says it will share details of pricing and availability for Apple TV Plus this fall, but it was not more specific than that. We have no idea how much Apple TV Plus will cost per month or if you can combine it with other services of the company with a discount.

apple tv plus and the new apple tv app

Image: Apple

What is the Apple TV application?

The Apple TV app was announced for the first time in October 2016 and was launched on the fourth generation of Apple TV and iOS devices at that time. Now it is an application pre-installed on all iPhone, iPad and Apple TV devices.

Apple positioned the app as a modernized TV guide: it's an all-in-one center to find recommendations on programs to watch. The "See Now" tab offers customized selections that suit your own tastes and options of many popular video subscription applications.

The Apple TV application also has a sports component, which offers live results and notifications for closed games. And finally, it provides easy access to your iTunes TV show and to movie purchases or rentals. Starting in May, the TV application will become the place to go for those same digital purchases of movies and TV shows on Apple TV.

Does the Apple TV application cost money to use it?

No. Unless you are paying for Apple TV Plus or a subscription to Apple TV Channel (and none of them is available yet), the TV application itself is completely free.

apple tv plus and the new apple tv app

Image: Apple

Soon you can subscribe to networks like HBO and watch (some) programs and movies inside the TV application

Therefore, the TV application is a useful resource to find something to watch . . But until now, the Apple TV application has always directed users to third-party applications to actually broadcast something. You can search for an HBO program in the TV application, but when you press play in Game of Thrones you will be switched to HBO Go or HBO Now. This jump between applications can be a little uncomfortable and makes what Apple is trying to do feel less fluid. That is about to change, in some cases.

Apple now says that customers will be able to see content directly within the Apple TV application. But critically, this only applies to the Apple TV channels that were announced today.

What are Apple TV channels?

Apple will soon offer additional optional subscriptions similar to those Amazon makes with its main video channels. You can pay for HBO, Showtime and other services using your Apple account. Now, you can subscribe to these networks on iOS and from their respective Apple TV applications, but there are advantages in doing so through the new Apple TV application method.

On the one hand, you can share access to your Apple TV channels with up to six family members. Second, instead of having to see the content of those channels in several different applications, everything will be visible within the TV application. And finally, you can download programs to see them offline.

Apple showed a slide of the Apple TV channels that it plans to offer, and I've put the heavy hitters (for most people) in bold below:

  • Acorn TV
  • BritBox
  • ] CBS All Access
  • Cinemax
  • Desertion from the university
  • Epix
  • Eros now
  • HBO
  • Lifetime Movie Club
  • Mubi
  • Camilo] 1916] PBS Living
  • Showtime
  • Shudder
  • Smithsonian Channel Plus
  • Starz
  • Sundance Now
  • Tastemade
  • Up Faith and Family
  • Urban Movie Channel

It's a mix of weird but at least it puts Apple on par with Amazon. If you like the television programs of any of the above services, you will be able to see that content directly within the Apple TV application. And Apple says it will offer world-class image and audio quality for all Apple TV channels, since it manages channel broadcasts directly instead of relying on HBO, CBS, Starz, etc. Combine that with the option to download content to watch it offline. and you can see why people can choose to start managing their subscriptions through the Channels.

The price of the different Apple TV channels has not been revealed. It has been rumored that Apple will offer packages of them at a discount, but the company did not elaborate on any of that today.

But you'll keep circling

Other applications, even those with programs that appear in the TV application like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, will still require you to move to your own applications to see something. Apple's website is a bit misleading, since users will be able to "easily see Hulu" within the application. "A Hulu spokesperson confirmed directly to The Verge that this is not the case. [19659056] Image: Apple

Where can I see the Apple TV application?

Currently, the Apple TV application is available in the Apple TV decoders (4th generation and Apple TV 4K) and iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch But in today's event, Apple said that the TV application will make its way to the Mac this fall, and the company confirmed that it will bring the TV application to Samsung's smart TVs this spring and the Vizio, Sony, LG and others "in the future." The Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices will also get the application at some point "in the future."

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