After years of speculation and on-again, off-again rumors, Apple has finally unveiled its biggest push into streaming video: Apple TV Plus. CEO Tim Cook just announced the service. Featuring Apple’s original programming alongside a redesigned, more advanced Apple TV app at the Steve Jobs Theater. “As you can tell, today is going to be a very different kind of event,” Cook said to kick things off. The introduction of Apple TV Plus, which the company is pitching as “the destination for the highest-quality originals” was led by a video featuring Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and stars attached to the shows that will help shape Apple’s service.
Apple is expected to spend $2 billion this year on original content that it hopes can stand toe to toe with shows from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others. But it’s got some catching up to do (Netflix is spending billions more in 2019), and the company didn’t show trailers or clips for many of the projects it went over, as a good number are still in the works.
Apple TV Plus will be ad free, available on demand, and viewable both online and offline. Apple plans to launch it in over 100 countries sometime this fall, though it did not disclose pricing today. But you’ll access Apple TV Plus through the redesigned Apple TV app on iOS, Mac, Roku, Fire TV, and televisions from various manufacturers.
Aside from making a big originals push, Apple is equally focused on making its Apple TV app, which is free to use, the centerpiece of a consumer’s various video subscriptions. On stage, the company announced Apple TV Channels, which will let customers pay for HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access, and other services directly through the TV app and watch everything there, too. Apple will be handling the streams and promises top-tier picture and audio quality for all Apple TV Channels it offers. A redesigned software experience will make it easier for users to find the latest must-watch shows and other recommendations from the third-party video apps that Apple will offer.
“We designed a new TV experience where you can pay for only the channels you want, all in one app, with the password you already have,” said Apple’s Peter Stern. “Watch everything on demand and ad-free. Download your shows to take with you anywhere. Enjoy the highest quality picture and sound available,” he said. The Apple TV app has been entirely redesigned to let you watch everything in one place, whereas the old one would switch you over to third-party apps when it actually came time to watch something. “No more bouncing around from app to app,” Stern said. There are some exceptions to that, however: Netflix isn’t backing the new TV app and thus doesn’t offer this integration. It also sounds like you’ll still need to watch Amazon’s Prime Video app and Hulu for their originals even though both companies will be listing their programming in the Apple TV app.