Apple plans to take on the Netflixes of this world with its own streaming service.
For years, the Cupertino giant has been tinkering away on a video streaming service, with the goal of being able to showcase its own original TV shows, much like Netflix does with its Netflix Originals, while also allowing subscriptions to other content all within the Apple TV app. It's been one of the worst kept secrets in the tech world. But now, we finally got something beyond rumors.
The company formally announced its video streaming service during a special event in March. Here's everything you need to know about TV+.
What is Apple TV+?
Apple TV+ is Apple’s new home for original films and series. Through a new Apple TV app, Apple will offer a tonne of ad-free, exclusive content that was either green-lit by or produced in-house by Apple. To help ensure the success of its first foray into original content, Apple has partnered with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, like Steven Spielberg, Oprah, JJ Abrams, and even Big Bird.
Apple TV+ will require a monthly payment and is due to arrive after the new Apple TV app rolls out to the Mac and other platforms.
How does one access Apple TV+?
Apple TV+ will be available inside the Apple TV app. Apple announced a major update is coming to the app in May 2019, but Apple TV+ won’t launch on it until this autumn. The update will see the Apple TV app launch on smart TV’s, as well as on Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices. This is critical because Apple TV was previously only available on Apple devices, like iPhone and the Apple TV box.
By expanding availability of the Apple TV app to more devices, the Apple TV+ service will be available to almost anyone who wants to subscribe.
Which devices support Apple TV+?
Apple TV+ will be available on any device that supports the new Apple TV app. The initial list includes Apple devices (such as the iPad, iPhone, Mac, and Apple TV set-top box), select smart TVs (from Sony, Samsung, LG, and Vizio), as well as Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Which shows and films are Apple Originals?
Confirmed Apple Originals
At the Apple TV+ launch event, the company trotted out some of the biggest stars in Hollywood to show off what its new streaming service will be available to subscribers. Here’s a list of the confirmed content:
In the early 80s, Steven Spielberg was responsible for creating two seasons of an anthology show based on the Amazing Stories comics he grew up reading. While it only had a short run on the silver screen, it still managed to capture five Emmy awards during it’s two-year run. A reboot is coming to Apple TV+, and Spielberg referenced an episode about a WWII pilot traveling through time to modern day.
The Morning Show
Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carrell are all on board for a series about what goes on behind the cameras of the various morning shows that millions of Americans wake up to every day.
Big Bird was on hand at the Apple TV+ launch event to talk about the partnership between Apple and the Sesame Street workshop to produce new educational content for kids.
This series is an epic world building drama set in some type of dystopian future. Jason Momoa is set to star in the role of Baba Voss, a warrior, leader, and guardian. So, basically someone is finally giving us the Khal Drogo spin off we’ve been dying for since season one of Game of Thrones.
Kumail Nanjiani is responsible for a half-hour anthology series that delves into the stories of American immigrants and their unique experiences. The show will focus on small scale immigrant stories, with the hope of showing the true experiences of being an immigrant in modern day America.
Little Voices is developed by JJ Abrams and stars singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles. The show is a half hour long dramedy about Bareilles' character struggling as a young singer trying to make it in New York City.
Oprah came on stage at the Apple TV+ announcement to reveal her new partnership with Apple. She spoke about two upcoming documentaries she’s currently working on that will be released on Apple TV+. The first one is about sexual harassment and has a working title of Toxic Labor.
Rumoured Apple Originals
While we got a taste of some of the original content that Apple is offering, there’s a host of other unconfirmed projects that the company has been tied to as well. These are in varying chapters of development. Some might launch with Apple TV+ and others might be a bit farther off.
For All Mankind
Apple picked up an untitled space drama developed by Ronald D Moore, best known for the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica. The show will "explore what would have happened if the global space race had never ended" and stars several actors including Joel Kinnaman.
Are You Sleeping
Apple ordered 10 episodes of a drama called Are You Sleeping, based on a novel by Kathleen Barber. It explores how the reopening of a murder case affects the victim's daughter. It will star Octavia Spencer, known for Hidden Figures, and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad.
Home is a docuseries that explores extraordinary homes in the world. It sounds like MTV's Cribs meets Architectural Digest. Apple has ordered 10 one-hour episodes of the Home docuseries, which is produced by Matt Tynauer and Corey Reese of Altimeter Films.
You Think It, I'll Say It Comedy
Apple ordered 10 episodes of a half-hour comedy show based on the You Think It, I'll Say It short story compilation by Curtis Sittenfeld, which "upends assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided."
It’s reportedly set to star Kristen Wiig.
Untitled drama series from Damien Chazelle
Apple picked up a drama series from La La Land creator Damien Chazelle. He will write and direct every episode of the series.
Swagger is a drama series based on the life of NBA star and Golden State Warriors player Kevin Durant. Imagine Television, led by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, will produce it, alongside Kevin Durant's Thirty Five Media. Both Durant and Grazer will serve as executive producers.
M. Night Shyamalan thriller
Apple ordered a psychological thriller written by Tony Basgallop and produced by M. Night Shyamalan, who is best known for movies like Signs and Split. The first episode of the series will be directed by Shyamalan. Apple has ordered 10 episodes, and each one will be a half-hour long.
Central Park is an animated TV series developed by Loren Bouchard, well-known for the popular cartoon Bob's Burgers. It's actually a musical comedy about a family of caretakers who live in Central Park and end up saving both the park and the world. It stars Josh Gad, among others.
Isaac Asimov's Foundation
Apple is working on a TV series adaptation of the popular sci-fi series Foundation written by sci-fi author Isaac Asimov. It's a sprawling epic that spans centuries, so it’ll be interesting to see how it’ll be adapted, if it ever makes it to the streaming service.
Apple picked up a show about the life of famous American poet Emily Dickinson, set to be played by Hailee Steinfeld. It'll be a comedic look into Dickinson's world. Jane Krakowski, known for roles in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock, will also star as Emily's mother.
Little Voices is a half-hour dramedy from executive producers JJ Abrams and Sara Bareilles. It's described as a love letter to "the diverse musicality of New York," as it will explore the lives of several characters in their 20s as they try to find their "authentic voice".
Apple is working on a TV adaptation of Gregory David Roberts' 2003 novel Shantaram, which focuses on a character named Lin, a convict that escapes an Australian prison. American Hustle screenwriter Eric Warren Singer will serve as showrunner and executive producer.
Apple ordered 10 episodes of a drama series about Hilde Lysiak, a child journalist who publishes a newspaper in her hometown in Pennsylvania. She unearths a cold case that everyone else in the town had attempted to bury. Child actress Brooklyn Price will star in the show.
Apple ordered an English-language adaptation of French series Calls. It's a short-form series that tells stories based on snippets of audio taken from real-life situations. Many episodes fall into the horror and mystery sub-genres, and will likely use minimal visuals.
Apple secured the rights to create a TV show based on Min Jin Lee's novel Pachinko, which follows the lives of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family in Japan staring in 1911. It will be written and produced by Soo Hugh, who is best known for The Killing.
Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day video game comedy
Apple has ordered a half-hour scripted comedy show created by Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, who are best known for popular comedy show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The show is set in a video game development studio, and McElhenney will be one of the show's stars.
Losing Earth Climate Change Project
Apple purchased the rights to develop a New York Times Magazine story (Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change). It covers the 10-year period from 1979 to 1989, when "humanity settled the science of climate change and came surprisingly close to finding a solution."
Defending Jacob drama
Apple picked up drama series Defending Jacob, which will star Chris Evans, known for his roles in Captain America and The Avengers. It's a thriller based on William Landay's bestselling novel and covers the murder of a 14-year-old boy and his friend and suspect Jacob. Chris Evans was in the crowd for the Apple TV+ launch event which might point to this being one of the series available at launch. Apple reportedly ordered 10 episodes.
Will all Apple's content be family friendly?
Apple is targeting a broad audience. It's reportedly avoiding content with nudity, raw language, and violence. It even had a dispute with Amazing Stories showrunner Bryan Fuller over its wishes to produce family-friendly content. It also shelved Vital Signs, an autobiographical show about hip hop artist Dr. Dre, as Apple CEO Tim Cook was said to be "troubled" by its use of guns, sex, and drugs.
Apple has maintained this line through apps it offers too, so makes sense that Apple will continue to be family friendly.
What about Apple TV channels?
The Apple TV app will integrate allow you to sign up for third-party services. This is thanks to a new Apple TV Channels feature that is separate from an Apple TV+ subscription. Apple said it's partnering with Showtime, HBO, CBS All Access, and more. So, you will be able to pay extra and access those add-on channels using your iTunes account for all payments and billing.
Other partners include Starz, Nickelodeon, Mubi, The History Channel Vault, Comedy Central Now, Spectrum, DirecTV, Optimum, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, FuboTV, and more. Again, they're all accessible through the Apple TV app. As Apple put it, you'll pay for what you want, and access it on-demand and ad-free through one app. You can even share with members in your family, too.
When will Apple TV+ be available?
Apple TV+ will release sometime this autumn, after the launch of the new Apple TV app in May 2019.
Where will Apple TV+ be available?
Apple TV+ will be available in over 100 countries at launch. It's safe to say the US and UK should both be included.
How much does Apple TV+ cost?
Apple didn’t reveal pricing information for its new Apple TV+ streaming service.
For comparison, Netflix’s HD streaming plan starts at $11.99 a month, while the upcoming Disney+ service reportedly wants to cost less, and HBO Now goes for $15.99 a month. The safe guess is Apple TV+ will cost somewhere in this range.
Both The Information and CNBC claimed earlier this year that Apple's original content could be free to Apple device owners. Bloomberg, however, claimed that content either purchased or funded by Apple won't be available for free.