Apple TV Plus is the new video-streaming service from Apple
(Image credit: Apple)
You can now access Apple’s TV Plus service on all manner of devices, as the release date of November 1 has finally arrived – but will it, in the words of CEO Tim Cook, be “unlike anything that’s come before”?
We’re currently working through our full review, but we’ve got all the information you could want if you want to give the free seven day trial a go.
We know a lot more about the Apple TV Plus pricing and release date, with a $4.99 / £4.99 / $AU7.99 monthly subscription model that undercuts a lot of competing services like Netflix or Hulu – with the ability to share between six different family members, if you have that many close relatives.
Plus, when you buy an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV, you’ll get one year’s subscription free – so, why not watch it?RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…Apple iPhone 11 Pro Unboxing
We’ve been keeping close tabs on the programming planned for the service, and you can check out our guide to Apple TV Plus shows for specific titles featuring everyone from Aquaman’s Jason Mamoa to Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds. Apple already dominates as a seller and distributor for content, so it’ll be interesting to see how they take to making that content themselves.
For all the pricing, launch dates, and hype you need to know about Apple TV Plus, though, read on below.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A rival streaming service that Apple will place its own content on, among other titles.
- When will it be released? It’s out now
- How much will it cost? $4.99 per month / £4.99 / AU$7.99, but when you buy an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV you’ll get one year’s subscription free.
Our Apple TV Plus on-going review
Signing up for Apple TV Plus is almost too easy, so whether or not you think you’ll stick with it doesn’t matter right now. We were able to get a 12-month free trial thanks to the purchase of an iPhone 11 Pro Max, and it didn’t require proof of purchase or a receipt like we had feared. Apple’s TV app already knows, which was a relief. There’s very little barrier to binge-watching entry.
Didn’t buy a brand new iPhone? That’s OK. There’s also a 7-day free trial attached to the Apple TV Plus service just in case you didn’t buy a new iPad, Mac, or Apple TV since September 10 either.
No matter what, you’ll have to confirm a credit card for the $4.99 a month, paid after your free trial ends (and you can’t opt out of auto-renew and still watch, so be sure to set a Siri reminder to cancel for either six days or 364 days from now). Also, tip for new Apple TV Plus subscribers: pay with the Apple Card if you have one. That means we’re getting 3% back when we do eventually get charged.
With the press of the blue ‘Enjoy 1 Year Free’ button and Face Unlock confirming our payment method, we were able to immediate launch the first episode of The Morning Show, one of nine original shows or movies available at launch. Interesting strategy here: Apple is only launching the first three episodes of The Morning Show, See and For All Mankind, with more episodes coming in another week. So if you’re on the seven-day free trial, you’ll have to take that into account.
Watching The Morning Show, which is a ripped-from-the-headlines drama, was a smooth experience – and we were glad to have the ‘Max’ version of the new iPhone for it. While watching Apple TV Plus shows on an iPad, Mac, or Apple TV (hooked up to a big-screen 4KTV) provides a bigger picture, we found the streaming to the 6.5-inch iPhone to be more than tolerable when traveling (the new AirPods Pro also helps lock in your attention). The Dolby Vision and HDR10 display tech of the new iPhones show their true colors here.
The app makes it easy to stop and start a video and pick up where you left off – on any device we tested. There are minimalist controls at the bottom: play/pause flanked by 15 seconds forward and 15 seconds backward buttons (10 seconds forward/back on a Mac). There are options for turning on close captions and audio descriptions.
One important button on newer iPhones: the ability to go full screen with the picture cut off a tad by the notch, or play content with tiny black bars on the sides. Such is life in a 16:9 media world in which few phones screens are that traditional widescreen aspect ratio.
We’ve already burned through first three episodes of The Morning Show and, good news, we want more (there will be 10 during season one, and season two has already been green lit). At the iPhone 11 launch event, Tim Cook made the point that the monthly fee Apple TV Plus is comparable to a single movie rental. In that respect, it’s a brilliant value. But since we’re already subscribing to Netflix, Hulu, and, soon, Disney Plus, Apple needs to not just launch with one or two shows we’ll enjoy each month – it has to keep pumping them out to ensure you stay subscribed. Right now, this Apple TV review and our opinion on it end in a TV-appropriate cliffhanger.
Apple TV Plus release date and price
At Apple’s iPhone 11 launch, Tim Cook confirmed that Apple TV Plus will launch on November 1, and the company has come good on that promise.
Apple TV Plus pricing
Apple TV Plus will cost just $4.99 / £4.99 AU$7.99 per month– and, if you buy an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or AppleTV, you’ll get a year’s subscription for free.
That’s even cheaper than Netflix‘s cheapest subscription, which costs $9 (£5.99 / AU$9.99) per month, as well as cheaper than the soon-to-be-released Disney Plus, which will cost $6.99 (around £6 / AU$10) per month.
Apple TV Plus: stars, shows and channels
The streaming service will offer exclusive shows, movies and documentaries from acclaimed filmmakers, including JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.
The service will include shows like Amazing Stories and The Morning Show, and stars like Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell and Jason Momoa are signed up to be involved. There’s even a show for youngsters called Helpsters.
Helpsters is aimed at the pre-school crowd, and follows a team of “vibrant monsters who love to solve problems,” according to Apple. It’s headed up by Sesame Street puppet Cody, who (as her name suggests) will help kids to learn the basics of coding – which no doubt will appeal to parents.
It’s also been announced that Oprah and Prince Harry will also be teaming up for a mental health docu-series, which will come to Apple TV Plus in 2020.
In a statement posted to Instagram, Prince Harry said “our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive – sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places, and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better.”
Most recently, Apple dropped a trailer for a revisionist comedy-biopic on the life of the poet Emily Dickinson, with Hailee Steinfeld taking the starring role, and Apple is so confident it’s already renewed it for a second season. You can get a taste of the anachronistic music and dance moves – in the style of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite – in the trailer below.
Other new shows include a musical take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, featuring Will Ferrell (Anchorman, Step Brothers) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Green Lantern).
WWDC 2019 also saw the unveiling on new alternative history show from Battlestar Galactica’s show lead, Ron Moore – also renewed for a second season before the first has even dropped. For All Mankind will reimagine the space race of the 1960s and 1970s, from a position that sees the Soviet Union putting man on the moon first. Find its first trailer below:
Most recently, we found out that M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant TV series will come to Apple TV Plus on November 28. According to Engadget, it revolves around a couple who bring an “unnervingly life-like doll into their home after losing their baby”. Sounds spooky.
What are Apple TV channels?
In addition to Apple TV Plus, Apple introduced Apple TV Channels, which combines cable subscription services and streaming services like Amazon Prime Video into the Apple TV app. (Unfortunately, however, Apple TV Channels doesn’t incorporate Netflix.)
Apple TV Channels will be incorporated into the Apple TV app on iOS starting in May, and on MacOS later in the year, but will sit outside Apple TV Plus’ purview.
- Here’s the full list of the first Apple TV Plus shows
- Here’s everything you need to know about Apple Arcade
- And here’s all the info on Apple News Plus
So Apple TV Plus is like Netflix?
This is where things get a little confusing. While on stage, Tim Cook mage it very clear that Apple TV Plus isn’t like Netflix – at least not yet. While the service will offer original content by the boatload, Apple TV Plus won’t offer licensed content like Netflix or Amazon Prime does, which covers all syndicated shows, like The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Robot or Seinfeld.
For now, you’ll still have to buy those shows through iTunes or via your terrestrial cable app in Apple TV Channels and turn to Apple Plus for its library of originals.
There’s also the question of availability. Cook named a number of major TV manufacturers who will offer the new Apple TV app in his keynote, but never came close to mentioning all the platforms where Netflix is available, like Android TV, PC desktops and laptops, and non-Apple tablets. We do now know though that Samsung, at the very least, will be supporting Apple TV Plus at launch through its smart TVs.
It’s also worth mentioning that Apple Plus has been compared to Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney Plus. But it looks like even though they might compete in the streaming space, Disney Plus will still be available via Apple TV.