What is probably the most anticipated announcement of the day, Apple today finally unveiled its competitor to Netflix: Apple TV Plus. It’s a new streaming service that will host all of Apple’s original content efforts its invested millions of dollars in. During the event, celebrities came onstage to announce certain projects they were working on. However, no proper trailers or clips were shown, hinting that things aren’t quite ready just yet.
That’s okay, since Apple still had a ton to show in regards to TV. For instance, Apple TV Plus will live in a redesigned Apple TV app, launching on iOS, tvOS, macOS, smart TVs, and streaming devices. The app will feature a simple interface loaded with content ready to be watched. The update will include Apple’s new Apple TV Channels feature which lets you tie in your other streaming subscriptions with the TV app itself and enjoy content from then without having to jump between apps.
This is huge. Apple managed to get Spectrum, DirecTV, Amazon Prime, and Hulu on board so you can enjoy content found in those services right inside the Apple TV app. Obviously, Netflix is missing from this lineup, but it’s not hard to understand why it’s absent. It’s Apple’s biggest competitor, and it clearly wanted to stay that way.
In terms of other services that will work with Channels, Showtime, CBS All Access, EPIX, HBO, Starz, MTV Hits, Smithsonian Channel, and more will also be on board. You’ll be able to pick and choose which subscriptions you want, giving you a certain freedom that’s the equivalent of picking and choosing every channel you want in a cable package. It’s totally customizable and up to you as to what content you get.
Apple is also changing the way you watch movies. With the new TV app, movies from the iTunes store will live in a dedicated Movies section where you can purchase and rent films with ease. Apple says its entire library of iTunes movies will be available in the app. This goes for TV shows in iTunes as well.
As always, Apple wants to mix in some of its machine learning with the new Apple TV app, so it’ll drive content suggestions found on the main screen in the app. It’ll use the content from providers like Hulu, DirecTV, Amazon Prime, and PlayStation Vue to recommend shows, movies, documentaries, and more based on your streaming habits. This comes with the important distinction that Apple won’t be monitoring what you watch, when you watch, and how often you watch. The company also won’t sell your usage patterns to advertisers or share it in any way, shape, or form. The tech giant was very up front about this during the event, so I think you can take their word for it.
Of course, the big question is what exclusive content Apple will bring to its Apple TV Plus service to make it worth subscribing to. According to the company and what we saw on stage today, celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Kumail Nanjiani, and more will all have something to contribute. We have names for the shows they’re producing and rough ideas fo what they’ll be about, but like I said before, we didn’t get any trailers. That pretty much means things are still being worked on.
This explains Apple’s vague nature surrounding launch dates and pricing. The company says Apple TV Plus will land this fall, but for an unspecified monthly fee. The fee will include complimentary family sharing, so there’s that. It’d be nice to know a price, though. My guess would be between $10 and $15 a month, given the dramatic and creative focus the company is putting on its content.
Meanwhile, the new Apple TV app will launch this May for existing supported platforms. The app will also launch on smart TVs this spring, beginning with Samsung sets and followed by those from LG, Vizio, and Sony. It’ll also land on macOS this fall along with streaming devices from Roku and Amazon Fire TV.