What Is Apple TV+ And How Does it Work?

The inside scoop on Apple's streaming service

Apple TV+ displayed on a TV, Mac, iPhone, and other devices

Apple Inc.

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After years of speculation and a star-studded preview event, Apple TV+ is finally here. But Apple TV+ brings a lot of questions along with it. Read on to learn the answers to all your questions about Apple's streaming video service.

What Is Apple TV+?

Apple TV+ is Apple's streaming TV and movie platform. Think of it as Apple's answer to Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+. It's a service that you subscribe to that gives you access to original content available only on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+ Is Different From the Apple TV App

This is a bit confusing, since they have very similar names, but Apple TV+ is not the same thing as the Apple TV app. The Apple TV+ service can be used from within the Apple TV app, but the app provides many other features and options.

The Apple TV app is a place to watch content from many different services that you subscribe to. For instance, if you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and Showtime, the Apple TV app shows the latest episodes of your favorite shows from all of those services, plus recommendations for other things you may enjoy. It also offers content from the iTunes Store and lets you buy and rent movies and TV there. You can use it without subscribing to Apple TV+.

Apple TV+, on the other hand, is one source of content (Apple's content) that can be accessed from within the Apple TV app.

For a deeper look at how the Apple TV app and Apple TV+ service differ, check out What Is the Apple TV App?

Apple TV+ Is Also Different From Apple TV Channels

Apple TV Channels is a feature of the Apple TV app that lets you subscribe to streaming services through the Apple TV app. Services available via Channels include things like HBO, Showtime, and CBS All Access. You can subscribe to Channels through the Apple TV app using your Apple ID. You can use Channels without subscribing to Apple TV+, or in addition to it.

Apple TV+ Requires No Special Hardware to Use

Apple's set-top streaming device called the Apple TV is certainly one way to access the Apple TV+ streaming service (and the Apple TV app, and Apple TV Channels), but it's not the only option.

Apple TV+ is available on a wide range of devices, including:

  • iOS devices (iPhone and iPod touch)
  • iPadOS devices
  • Apple TV
  • Macs
  • Amazon Fire TV devices
  • Roku devices
  • Smart TVs from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio

The Apple TV app comes to non-Apple devices in Fall 2019.

Content Available On Apple TV+

At launch, Apple TV+ offers a library of TV series and movies, including:

Apple TV+ TV Series

  • Dickinson, a series focusing on the young life of poet Emily Dickinson.
  • For All Mankind, a science fiction series from Battlestar Galactica creator.
  • Ghostwriter, a continuation of the children's series.
  • Helpsters, another children's series in which monsters solve problems.
  • The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell
  • An Oprah Winfrey series of conversations with authors.
  • See, a series about a world in which humans have lost the ability to see, starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard.
  • Snoopy in Space, a Peanuts animated show.

Apple TV+ Movies

  • The Elephant Queen, a documentary about elephant extinction.

Other shows and movies set to be released at later dates include:

  • Amazing Stories, a fantasy anthology series produced by Steven Spielberg
  • Foundation, adapting Isaac Asimov's series of science fiction novels
  • Lisey's Story, adapting the Stephen King novel, produced by J.J. Abrams and starring Julianne Moore
  • On the Rocks, written and directed by Sophia Coppola, starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones.
  • Untitled new Peanuts series
  • Various Sesame Workshop series.
  • Untitled documentary produced by Oprah Winfrey.

A full list of all announced programming for Apple TV+ can be found at Wikipedia.

Many streaming services release all episodes of their TV series at the same time to let users to binge watch the entire series. Apple TV+ takes a different approach to releasing new episodes.

For most TV series, the first three episodes will be released in a group. After that, new episodes will be released once a week. That schedule may change for some series, which will be released all at once for binging, but most will work that way.

New series will debut each month, according to Apple.

Does Apple TV+ Offer a Deep Library of Content like Netflix?

No. Apple TV+ takes a very different approach to content than Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Those services have huge libraries of TV and movies, mixing new releases with large selections of material released in the past. Apple TV+ only offers material created for (or acquired for release on) Apple TV+.

This means that the library of content available on Apple TV+ at launch is much smaller than on other services. The library will grow over time as Apple launches new shows and movies, and as it acquires other material.

Can You Watch Apple TV+ Offline?

Yes. As long as you subscription is valid, you can download Apple TV+ content to mobile devices to watch even when you're not connected to the internet.

Apple TV+ Subscriptions and Free Trials

Apple TV+ costs US$4.99/month for a family membership. Apple TV+ also has a free trial. You can try it out for 7 days before you have to subscribe or cancel.

The standard Apple TV+ subscription supports up to 6 users in a Family Sharing group. No single-user pricing has been announced (although $4.99 is a reasonable guess) and Apple hasn't said whether plans for more users will be available, but that seems unlikely since Family Sharing has a 6-user maximum.

Also, if you buy a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, or Mac, you'll get one free year of Apple TV+ included with your device. After that free first year, you'll have to either continue the subscription or cancel. You have 90 days after purchase to activate the free subscription.

How to Subscribe to Apple TV+

You'll need the Apple TV app running on a compatible device and an Apple ID with a credit card on file. If you have those things, just go to the Apple TV app, find the Apple TV+ content, and follow the onscreen prompts.

The monthly cost of Apple TV+ will be billed to your on-file credit card, just like any other services you've subscribed to through your Apple devices.

Apple TV+ Availability

Apple TV+ is available in the U.S. and over 100 other countries and regions on Nov 1, 2019.