The new version of the app comes ahead of the planned fall launch of Apple TV+, the company’s video-subscription service that will be stocked with original TV shows and movies and will be available through the Apple TV app. The tech giant announced the plans at an event in March; it hasn’t revealed pricing or other details for Apple TV+ aside from teasing a slew of originals.
The new Apple TV app is available across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and select Samsung smart TVs starting Monday (May 13), in over 100 countries worldwide.
In the U.S., customers can subscribe directly to channels from the Apple TV app. At launch, those include HBO (and Cinemax), Showtime, Starz, Smithsonian Channel, Epix, Tastemade, MTV Hits, PBS Living, Acorn TV, Sundance Now, Lifetime Movie Club, Urban Movie Channel, CuriosityStream and Comedy Central Now. Apple said it expects to add more in the future.
The pricing of the streaming services through Apple TV channels is the same as through the services’ standalone apps. HBO Now, for example, costs $14.99 per month via Apple’s App Store and Apple TV channels, and Showtime is $10.99 per month.
Through Apple’s Family Sharing feature, up to six family members can share subscriptions to Apple TV channels by using their Apple ID and password. In addition, subscribers can download and watch shows and movies offline — which makes the Apple TV app the first (and for now only) on-demand service to let HBO subscribers download movies and series such as “Game of Thrones” for offline viewing. (Comcast doesn’t let customers download HBO VOD content for offline viewing; however, Xfinity customers with cloud-based DVR service can download any HBO content they’ve recorded for viewing on the go.)
The Apple TV app also provides access to other third-party video services including Hulu, CBS All Access, ESPN+ and Amazon Prime Video, with the ability to search for and browse selections from those apps.
Conspicuously absent from the Apple TV app lineup is Netflix, whose execs have said that they’re not interested in integrating with the Apple service. At a recent press event, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explained that Netflix wants to control the user experience within its own app.
The upgraded Apple TV app also provides personalized recommendations of TV shows and movies from the third-party video streaming services, as well as more than 100,000 iTunes movies and TV shows.
The app’s Watch Now section features Up Next, where users can find and watch their favorite titles with activity synced across devices, as well as explore curated collections based on their viewing interests (in a privacy-protected way, Apple noted). Also, the Apple TV app features a new, dedicated “Kids” section, curated to showcase shows and movies for children of all ages.
The new app is available with the iOS 12.3 and tvOS 12.3 releases and will be available on Mac this fall. The Apple TV app offering Apple TV channels also is available on all 2019 Samsung smart TVs and select 2018 models. Customers with select Vizio, LG and Sony smart TVs will be able to use the the Apple TV app with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support later this year.