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Apple TV Plus and the new Apple TV app, explained

Here are some takeaways from today’s loaded, software-focused Apple event: Apple TV Plus is a subscription service with only Apple originals. Unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, you don’t get access to a back catalog of licensed shows or movies. Apple TV Plus is not a separate, standalone app. Instead, you’ll get to it using Apple’s TV app, which is expanding to many more devices over the coming months. Starting in May, the Apple TV app will offer add-on paid subscriptions and will be able to stream some shows and movies from Apple’s partners like HBO without bouncing you out to a third-party video service. All of this is separate from Apple TV the product , which is a streaming set-top box you can buy in stores today and important to Apple's living room ambitions. The company would tell you that the Apple TV is the best way to experience all of this art and content.Confused? It was easy to miss some of this or get mixed up, especially when Apple lumped these announcements together with a new credit card and magazine subscription service. How does all the new TV stuff fit together? Let me do my best to lay it out 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 TV shows and movies. When it launches this fall, Apple TV Plus will be the exclusive way to watch that content. And Apple has poured money into forming a star-studded roster of talent working to produce programming that can hopefully stand equal with Netflix’s best shows. Even Oprah’s on board. But Apple TV Plus is not its own app or a separate experience. It will actually be accessible through the Apple TV app on iOS, Mac, and other platforms. It will likely have its own dedicated tab or section of the TV app, but Apple didn’t go into the specifics on that at today’s event — and the website on Apple TV Plus is extremely light on details. The best we got was a short glimpse of an Apple TV Plus row with flashy animations during today’s keynote. The service will be ad-free (since you’ll be paying for it) and Apple plans to launch in over 100 countries. What is Apple TV Plus not? * A true Netflix or Amazon Prime Video competitor: As Peter Kafka correctly predicted at Recode , Apple is not (yet) building a full streaming service that mixes originals and licensed programming like its rivals. Instead, the Apple TV Plus service focuses exclusively on Apple’s own original programming. There’s no older stuff to endlessly scroll through as we tend to do on Netflix or Prime Video. No Hollywood movies or past TV hits to speak of. Not yet, anyway. * On Android or Windows: Though it announced a TV app for several platforms (even including Fire TV), Apple gave no indication that the service and its originals will be available on Android or Windows. That’s a huge hole if the company is hoping to make these high-profile shows accessible to as big of an audience as possible. Native apps for these platforms, at least right now, don’t seem to be in the cards. * On the web: Same goes for web browsers. Apple made no mention of a way to stream Apple TV Plus via popular desktop browsers like Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. When will I be able to watch Apple TV Plus?Apple says it will share pricing and availability details for Apple TV Plus this fall, but didn’t get more specific than that. We have no idea how much Apple TV Plus will cost per month or whether you’ll be able to bundle it with the company’s other services at a discount. Image: AppleWhat is the Apple TV app? The Apple TV app was first announced in October 2016 and launched on the fourth-generation Apple TV and iOS devices at the time. It is now a preinstalled app on all iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV devices. Apple positioned the app as a modernized TV guide: it’s an all-in-one hub for finding recommendations on shows to watch. The “Watch Now” tab offers personalized picks suited to your own tastes and pulls from many different popular video subscription apps. The Apple TV app also has a sports component, offering live scores and notifications for close games. And lastly ...Read more

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