Apple TV+ Review

8

Great

Price 9 out of 10

Interface 7.5 out of 10

Compatibility 9.2 out of 10

New Shows 8 out of 10

Apple TV+ is a relatively new streaming service which launched worldwide on November 1, 2019. It was released to subscribers with a small selection of original content, accompanied by details of upcoming shows set to hit the platform in the coming months. Big names such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah star in content on the streamer, and many have signed up to the service due to its low price tag of just $4.99 a month. The service comes with an app which can be downloaded on a range of devices, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung TV, LG and Vizio TVs which support Apple AirPlay 2 and much more, with Apple stating that more compatible devices will be worked on.

Those who bought a new iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV or MacBook after September 10, 2019 will be entitled to a free year of the service, and a subscription can be shared with up to five family members living in the same household. Content can be downloaded to watch on the go, and there is 4K picture quality available alongside Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. Low price point. By pricing this streaming service at only $4.99 a month, people will barely notice this sum leaving their bank accounts. It’s a good way to retain subscribers, as people will sign up and then not need to worry about affording it each month.
  2. Big names. The Morning Show stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, while Oprah stars in the revival of Oprah’s Book Club. The tech giant has invested heavily in bringing celebrities to the streamer.
  3. Offline viewing. Apple has recognised the importance of giving subscribers the ability to download titles to watch on the go. This way, the new streamer is keeping up with competitors in the industry such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Cons

  1. Small selection of titles. Apple launched with a small number of shows – eight series and a documentary, to be exact. While they are building out the platform with more titles and are reportedly in talks to acquire licensing deals, there are definitely competitors with more to offer.
  2. Not available for all devices. When Apple TV+ launched, viewers found the app wasn’t compatible with PS4, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch. Similarly, there wasn’t an option for Android devices, which is a major handicap when you consider that most competitors have a wider compatibility.
  3. Interface can be confusing. Those who have browsed the new interface using the Apple TV remote have found that it takes some getting used to. For example, it has proven easy to accidentally fast forward a show.

Types of content available

Apple TV+ launched with a small number of titles – Dickinson, The Elephant Queen, For All Mankind, Ghostwriter, Snoopy in Space, Helpsters, Oprah’s Book Club, See and The Morning Show.

Beyond these titles, you can view Apple TV Channels. When you click through to this option on the homepage, you’ll see options for viewing Moonbug Kids, BFI Player, Start Play, Arrow TV, Arrow Video Channel, Mubi and Smithsonian Channel Plus. Highlights include Paris, Texas, Pennyworth, Betty Blue and The Housemaid.

In the movies tab, you will be able to watch top titles such as Out of Sight, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Rocketman, Long Shot and Good Boys. You will need to pay for these titles as individual purchases in the Apple iTunes Store. The same applies for the TV Shows tab – there are top titles such as Mr Robot, The Mallorca Files, Watchmen and Gold Digger, which are available for purchase in the Store.

There is a dedicated Kids section, where you can watch shows such as Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, Butterbean’s Cafe and Andy’s Safari Adventure. Finally, in the Library section you will see all of your previously purchased titles available to watch.

Top Apple TV+ TV shows and movies

The Morning Show – Alex Levy is co-anchor on The Morning Show. When her on-air partner, Mitch Kessler, is fired due to a sexual misconduct scandal, Alex has a struggle to keep her job while also facing rivalry from Bradley Jackson.

For All Mankind – A science fiction drama which looks at an alternative timeline whereby Russia was the first nation to land on the moon. America is catalysed into an effort to catch up in the space race.

Dickinson – A period drama which takes place during Emily Dickinson’s era. It takes on a modern tone and lets viewers see how women were constrained by society, gender and family.

See – A drama set in a future where humankind has been robbed of the ability to see. When two twins are born with sight, this sparks a war between the tribes which roam the earth.

Helpsters – A team of monsters called Cody and the Helpsters take on problems to solve, such as planning a party or learning a magic trick.

Ghostwriter – Four kids team up to solve a mystery when a ghost haunts the neighbourhood bookstore and begins releasing fictional characters into the world.

Truth Be Told – A murder case which made a true-crime podcaster famous comes back into the public eye when new evidence comes to light. It soon becomes apparent that the original suspect may have been wrongfully convicted.

Servant – Following the death of their infant, a couple hires a young nanny to take care of a reborn doll. The bereaved mother believes the doll is her real child. Meanwhile, the father becomes deeply suspicious of the nanny.

Hala – A Pakistani American teenager called Hala struggles with the obligations her culture, religion and family bring her. She also has a secret which could unravel her family.

The Elephant Queen – Athena is an elephant mother who fiercely protects her family when the herd is forced to leave their waterhole. The journey takes viewers across the African savannah.

Oprah’s Book Club – Originally a segment of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the concept has been revived for Apple TV+. Oprah selects a book for viewers to read and has a discussion with the author in front of an audience.

Little America – This anthology series looks at the experiences of immigrants whose stories aren’t featured in mainstream media. A 12 year old must learn to manage a Utah hotel when his parents are deported to India, and Marisol is an undocumented Mexican teenager who enters the world of competitive squash.

The Banker – Based on a true story, Bernard Garr and Joe Morris are two entrepreneurs who plan to build an empire in finance and real estate. They help other African Americans live the American dream as they do so.

User interface

The Apple TV+ interface categorises available content into subsections. For example, you will be able to distinguish between shows where the entire season is available and those which have new episodes coming out every Friday. There is a section for feature films and another with family focused content. Due to the limited range of content, the sub categories are not as extensive as you would find with competitors such as Netflix and Disney Plus, but this is bound to change with time.

When you click onto a TV show, you will have a number of options. You can watch or resume a particular episode, download it for offline viewing or add it to your Up Next menu. There will be a still of the show to give you an idea of what it looks like, along with a brief overview of the episode you would be watching. When you scroll down, you will see a list of the episodes and small summaries of what happens in each. There may also be extras such as trailers, related titles and cast & crew information, so you can get a full picture of what the title is all about.

A nice touch Apple TV+ offers is the ability to click on the names of stars and crew involved with the show to see a small biography, along with a catalog of titles they have worked on.

How to watch

Currently, Apple TV+ is available to watch with iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, Airplay, PC, Samsung Smart TV, Roku Players & TVs and FireTV. When it comes to Apple devices, the TV app will be preinstalled on iPhones and iPads operating with iOS 12.3 and above. The same goes for Apple TVs, as you will find the app already available if your device is running on tvOS 12.3 or above. Finally, the Apple TV app is on macOS devices which are running macOS Catalina and above. If you are using iOS or iPad iOS devices, you will be able to download Apple TV Plus shows for offline viewing.

If you have a TV which doesn’t support the Apple TV app, you can use it if you have AirPlay2 supported and a mobile device which can load the app. This is because you can send Apple TV Plus from your mobile device to the TV screen. Alternatively, you can keep it simple and stream Apple TV+ using a web browser. Simply navigate to tv.apple.com. The browsers you can use include Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

What setup do I need?

You will need to have one of the compatible devices listed above to stream titles using the Apple TV app. The Apple site has a full list of device versions which are compatible. These include the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2018), Gen 2 (2016), Nebula Soundbar – Fire TV Edition, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Smart Soundbar, Roku Ultra, Samsung QLED 4K, Samsung Smart Full HDTV, LG OLED, LG NanoCell, Vizio P-Series, Vizio M-Series and so on.

The Apple site recommends that you have a minimum broadband connection speed of 25mbps to stream content in 4K effectively. If your connection is below this requirement, you will receive output in HD. To set up the Apple TV app, open it up and select Start Watching. Go to Settings, then Accounts, followed by Sign In. You will then be able to sign in with your Apple ID and configure the setup in one of two ways. You can either use Sign in on mobile device, whereby you use the camera on your phone to scan the QR code on the TV screen before following the instructions on your mobile device to sign in via Apple ID and complete the process – or Sign in on this TV, where you use the TV remote to manually sign in with your Apple ID and conclude the setup.

How to cancel Apple TV+

  1. Navigate to the App Store.
  2. Click on your Apple ID.
  3. Select the option to View Information.
  4. Sign in to your account if necessary.
  5. Scroll down to the option Manage.
  6. Find Apple TV+ and click on Edit.
  7. Click on Cancel Subscription.

Alternatively, on Apple TV or iPhone/iPad, you will need to go into the Settings app and navigate to your subscriptions to find the Apple TV+ one to cancel.

Monthly Subscription

$5
Monthly

Students: Subscribe to Apple Music and get Apple TV+ free

$5
Monthly

Plans available

The plans available with Apple TV+ are simple. For the basic, standard subscription, you can expect to part with $5 a month or $50 a year. Those who purchase an iPhone, Mac, iPad or Apple TV will get a year’s subscription free of charge. This price point is competitive as it is significantly lower than the cheapest Netflix plan, which will set customers back $9 a month. It is also a little cheaper than Disney+, which has been released at a cost of $7 or $70 per year.

There are also set to be optional add-on subscriptions, so HBO, Showtime and similar services can be managed from your Apple account. While these subscriptions are already available via iOS and the individual Apple TV apps, using the new TV app method will result in benefits such as being able to share access to these channels with up to six family members. Furthermore, convenience is a factor, as all of the channels will be available from one app instead of being spread across several. Also, shows will be available for download so they can be watched on the go.

Trials and subscription options

There is a seven day free trial in place with Apple TV+, so you can try out the service before you make a commitment to purchase a subscription. Those who are students and subscribe to Apple Music for $5 a month will be eligible to get Apple TV+ for free. There is also said to be a bundle combining Apple TV+ and Apple Music being developed.

Those who have activated a year-long trial due to purchasing an eligible Apple product should make a note of when their subscription began, as they will have it automatically renewed when it expires. From this point, they will be charged $4.99 a month. To activate a one year subscription, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Apple TV app. Download it from the App Store if you don’t have it.
  2. Click Start Watching if this is your first time using Apple TV.
  3. Find the Apple TV Plus menu and click on the option which states Try it free.
  4. Click on Enjoy 1 Year Free. Enter your Apple ID password, which will confirm your free trial.
  5. Start watching!

Competitors

Apple TV+ will be frequently compared with competitors such as Netflix and Disney+ to assess whether it’s worth purchasing a subscription for. In terms of pricing, Apple TV+ appears to offer the best deal at just $5 a month or $50 per year. In comparison, Disney+ is slightly more expensive at $7 per month or $70 per year, but it offers a lot more options – the entire Disney catalog, multiple simultaneous streams and a number of different user profiles, to name but a few. Similarly, Netflix may be more expensive, but it offers many more options. Notably, the pricing is a little more complex, but this is because customers can choose the option which suits them – whether it’s the basic tier for $9 a month going up to the premium tier at $16 a month.

In terms of content, Apple TV+ is clearly lacking compared to Netflix and Disney+. The platform launched with just nine titles, and new ones are being added every few weeks or months. Meanwhile, Netflix and Disney+ have literally thousands of options, with both streamers providing a mixture of original and acquired content. Netflix has developed a number of popular original shows, such as Orange Is The New Black and Stranger Things, while Disney has an enviable back catalog spanning decades. Furthermore, Netflix has a huge library of rotating content to browse, and Disney+ boasts titles from Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic and more.

What we liked about Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is a sleek and well-designed streaming service which has clearly invested wisely. With big names such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah on the credits, their titles will clearly draw in appeal for a long time to come. The service has shown it’s in for the long haul by slowly adding more titles to its platform which have been carefully planned. For example, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet features people from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, showing that they will find the right names to work on their projects.

What we disliked about Apple TV+

$5 a month seems a little steep considering the small amount of content on the platform. If the service was subscribed to in isolation for a few weeks, with just those shows watched, then it might provide value for money, but many people are likely to remain subscribed to their usual streaming service, whether it’s Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video. Also, the new system sometimes proved buggy, with login being difficult at times and shows not saving watch progress. Hopefully these are just growing pains which will go away as the service develops.

Is Apple TV+ worth it?

Those who have gained a year-long subscription due to buying an eligible Apple product should definitely make the most of their access to this service, as should students who can purchase discounted subscriptions. However, this service will most likely be a slow burner, increasing in popularity and value as more titles are added to the service. For now, most people will probably only sign up to the service for a month or two to check out some of the shows which have piqued their interest. It’s likely that Apple will make a lot of its money from this service due to people who sign up out of interest and then forget they have a subscription, letting it auto renew every month and either not noticing or repeatedly forgetting to hit the cancel button.

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