In Depth

Apple TV+ reviews: a rare ‘afterthought’ from the iPhone maker

Can the tech giant really bring the fight to Netflix and Amazon Prime?

Netflix and Amazon Prime have a new rival as Apple commences its foray into the video streaming market. 

Unveiled by Steven Spielberg during the tech giant’s keynote in March, Apple TV+ is now available across a host of both the company’s own products and third-party devices for a monthly fee of £4.99. 

Viewers who subscribe to the new service will be able to access a range of exclusive original TV shows and movies starring some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell. 

But do the critics think that Apple has what it takes? Here are some of their verdicts: 

Reviews

The “pretty slim” list of original shows available on Apple TV+ at launch doesn’t feature anything particularly special, with The Morning Show trying “its hardest to look like important dramatic TV”, says Engadget. But Apple has promised to expand the list in the coming months, with a reboot of 1980s hit Amazing Stories from Spielberg, and M. Night Shyamalan’s mystery thriller Servant.   

Although Apple TV+ “is a pretty good deal  if you like more than one of the shows available on the platform”, the content line-up is “only okay” and the app’s interface is “confusing”, says Gizmodo. “Its recommendation algorithm might give you more privacy but seriously hampers usability,” the tech news site continues.

“It’s not helping me discover content as much as reminding me content exists and I can watch it on TV,” the Gizmodo reviewer adds.

Overall, Apple TV+ “feels a bit like an afterthought”, says TechRadar. “The usual Apple strategy, of bringing out the best version of a product after it’s had a chance to study the market and iterate in a stylish way, hasn’t quite translated to its content offering here, and it’s hard to recommend the service on the basis of any individual shows.”

“There’s nothing particularly wrong with Apple TV+, but not much right with it either,” the tech news site concludes.

What is Apple TV+?

Apple TV+ is the California-based multinational’s answer to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. 

These competitors offer extensive catalogues of existing shows and movies, as well as original content, but Apple will offer a more streamlined content library that prioritises new shows funded by the company, says MacRumors

Or as What Hi-Fi? puts it, Apple TV+ “is all about original, ad-free content. No re-runs, no licensed content, just originals created purely for the service.”

Apple TV+ should not be confused with the Channels section on the Apple TV app, which allows users to subscribe to other streaming services, such as MTV Hits and HBO in the US, without having to download a separate app.  

What shows will be on Apple TV+? 

Headlining the streaming service is The Morning Show, which sees Friends star Aniston returning to television for the first time since the final episode of the hit sitcom aired in 2004, says the London Evening Standard. In the new comedy-drama, she plays a fictional daytime TV presenter who works for “a network grappling with the firing” of another of its hosts after “allegations are made about his behaviour”.

The show, which also stars Carell and Reece Witherspoon, appears to reflect “real events of the #MeToo movement”, including the sacking of NBC news host Matt Lauer over sexual misconduct allegations in 2017, the newspaper adds. 

Another Apple-funded show heading to our screens is See, a sci-fi series that takes place 600 years in the future and features Aquaman star Jason Momoa, The Independent reports. Apple is also launching a second sci-fi series, For All Mankind, which is set around an “alternate history of the moon landings”.

Other Apple TV+ shows will include Truth Be Told, which follows a true-crime podcaster as she “reinvestigates a murder”, and Lisey’s Story, about a woman “facing repressed realisations about her husband two years after his death”, the news site says. 

As reported by Macworld, the full list of shows that will be available on TV+ from 1 November are as follows:

  • The Morning Show
  • See
  • Dickinson
  • For All Mankind
  • Helpsters
  • Snoopy In Space
  • Ghostwriter
  • The Elephant Queen

And here are the shows that will join the service at a later date:

  • Servant (28 November 2019)
  • Truth Be Told (6 December 2019)
  • The Banker (31 January 2020)

There are a host of other shows - including a series dedicated to Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories and Lisey’s Story - have been green lit for filming but have yet to be given an official release. 

And how much does it cost?

TV lovers can subscribe to the service for £4.99 per month, says TechRadar

And customers who buy an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV box gain free access to the service for one year. 

Which devices support it?

According to Macworld, users can sign up to the service through Apple’s TV app. The software is available on iPhone, iPad, Mac computers and the Apple TV box, as well as some supported third-party smart TVs.

The service can also be accessed through Amazon Fire TV, with Samsung, Roku, LG, Vizio, and Sony all set to support the service at a later date, according to the Apple news site. Viewers with newer TV sets from Samsung, LG, Sony or Vizio can stream shows from their Apple device using AirPlay 2.

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