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Apple TV Plus streaming service: everything you need to know

Apple TV Plus streaming service: everything you need to know

Apple pulled back the curtain on its Apple TV Plus/TV+ film and TV streaming service in June – and now, four months later (and in part thanks to Apple's 2019 iPhone event), we have plenty of details on the Netflix and Amazon Prime Video rival, including pricing, launch date, audio and video support and the first of its exclusive original content.

But how does Apple TV Plus work, how do you access it and what exactly will it offer? Crucially, when will it be available and how much will it cost? We reveal all...

What is Apple TV Plus?

It's Apple's new video subscription streaming service. The Cupertino giant has previously created original content offerings, such as Planet Of The Apps and Carpool Karaoke, for its Apple Music streaming service, but this is a dedicated films and TV shows-only endeavour.

You could call it a Netflix or Amazon Prime Video of sorts, but unlike those rival streaming services TV Plus will be purely about original, ad-free content.

Apple TV Plus streaming service: everything you need to know

Which devices support Apple TV Plus?

The service will only be available through the latest version of the Apple TV app, which arrived on iPhones, iPads and Apple TV streamers (in over 100 countries) via a May software update. Macs will get the update in the autumn – we imagine before the service goes live.

Select 2018 and 2019 Samsung smart TVs received the Apple TV app in the spring of 2019, while Sony, LG and Vizio smart TVs, Roku streamers and Amazon Fire TV devices will also support the app 'in the future'. We'd hope this means in time for the launch later this year, but Samsung seems to have secured a degree.

Apple has launched a promo channel on YouTube but it seems unlikely this will show anything more than trailers, so Apple TV Plus on YouTube won't come any time soon.

Because Apple will hold the rights to every show and film on the service, you'll be able to download TV shows and movies to watch offline as well as stream on demand. All the content will be exclusive to the platform.

What can you watch on Apple TV Plus?

Apple TV Plus streaming service: everything you need to know

Apple TV Plus is all about original, ad-free content. No re-runs, no licensed content, just originals created purely for the service.

Rumours are that the firm has invested over $1bn in these TV shows and films and, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple TV Plus will be "the destination for the highest-quality originals".

It certainly has an impressive roster of talent signed up. At Apple's June annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), we saw a teaser trailer (below) for an Apple original coming in the fall. For All Mankind is a drama series about the lives of NASA astronauts, engineers and their families, created by Ronald D. Moore (Outlander, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica), Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi. Less than 12 hours after being released on YouTube, the trailer had racked up almost 12m views!

Steven Spielberg was on hand at the initial Apple TV Plus launch to announce a reboot of his 80s TV series Amazing Stories, while Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell will star in a talk show called The Morning Show. Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan will helm a psychological thriller TV series, while Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Alfre Woodard (12 Years A Slave) have teamed up for a post-apocalyptic series in which the world's population has lost their sight. The trailer for the latter (below) has just received its worldwide premiere at Apple's iPhone event – and it looks impressive.

Oprah Winfrey is working on "original programmes that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world". She has confirmed two documentaries for Apple TV Plus so far – Toxic Labour (about sexual assault in the workplace) and an as-yet unnamed project about mental health.

There's also a Sesame Street spinoff about coding called Helpsters, and a show called Little America highlighting immigrants' human stories.

Finally, actor and singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles and Star Trek/Star Wars maestro JJ Abrams have a production of Little Voice, about millennials in Manhattan.

Despite having over 30 original productions on the go, it's doubtful Apple will be able to rival Netflix for sheer volume of content. Apple is said to be taking a quality over quantity approach.

There's no third-party content whatsoever, so you won't be able to watch Friends on it. For that, you'll need Apple TV Channels, a new service within the Apple TV app. This will land via a software update, and offer the likes of HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS and even the BBC and ITV joint streaming venture, BritBox. You only pay for the channels you watch, so you won't be tied into buying any bundles.

Apple TV Plus streaming service: everything you need to know

Which video and audio formats does Apple TV Plus support?

Months ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple TV Plus would be "the destination for the highest quality originals" – and, true to his word, Apple doesn't seem to be holding back. Given you can already enjoy 4K, HDR10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos through the Apple TV 4K streaming box, and that Apple is in control of the entire creation process for its originals, it's not surprising that Apple TV Plus titles will support those formats.

"You can watch Apple originals in 4K HDR / Dolby Vision and most titles also offer Dolby Atmos sound," says Apple's support page.

Apple's Dolby Vision-supported devices span every iPhone since and including the iPhone 8. The iPad Pro (10.5in), iPad Pro (11in) and iPad Pro 12.9in (3rd generation) also support Dolby's HDR format, with the latter two models also able to play Vision content to a compatible connected display or television..

Of course, the Apple TV 4K video streamer, which also supports a 4K resolution, can be added to that list, while Vision content can be played through any Vision-compatible TV that has also AirPlay 2 support. 

Of those compatible devices, the Apple TV 4K, iPhone XR and later, 11in iPad Pro, and 12.9in iPad Pro (3rd generation) will also be able to take advantage of titles with Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

How much does Apple TV Plus cost?

The burning question! Apple has just announced that TV+ will be priced at £4.99/$4.99 per month – which is as cheap as we could have hoped for, at around half the cost of Netflix. That subscription can be used by up to six members in a family, watching with their own Apple ID on their own device, so for now there's no tiered pricing for this one-size-fits-all service.

When you buy any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or Apple TV, you'll get a one-year subscription included for free. And current owners of all the above devices won't miss out either – they'll be able to sign up to a seven-day free trial.

That competitive pricing certainly puts pressure on Disney, whose Disney Plus streaming service will launch at the end of this year for a yet-unknown monthly cost.

When does Apple TV Plus launch?

Apple TV Plus launches on 1st November in over 100 countries, so we've not long to wait now. That still gives TV manufacturers and service providers such as Sony, Vizio and Amazon plenty of time to roll out the Apple TV App to compatible devices ahead of the service going live. 

The first shows will go live on the Apple TV app (available on iPhones, iPads and Apple TV streamers) on that date, with more content added each month.  

Of course, we'll be sure to give you our thoughts on the service as soon as it launches and we'll be updating this page with more information as and when it's released.

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