Why the Apple TV App Is Everywhere

Convenience is a virtue

Key Takeaways

  • Apple TV will run on the Xbox Series X and Series S.
  • The whole point of this app saturation is to let you pay for an Apple TV+ subscription, anywhere.
  • The Ted Lasso show is pretty great.
Apple TV app on Xbox Series X and Series S showing Mythic Quest, Ted Lasso and more
Microsoft 

Apple TV is coming to the Xbox, so you’ll be able to watch Ted Lasso in between bouts of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Destiny 2: Beyond Light.

When the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S game consoles launch on November 10, you’ll be able to log in to the Apple TV app and watch all your favorite shows. Usually, Apple makes its apps exclusive to its own platforms, but here it is, spreading its TV app around like it was Netflix. What’s going on?

"I’d say it's a bit like asking why iTunes or iCloud is on Windows or why Apple Music is on Android, "long-time Apple journalist and expert Jason Snell told Lifewire via Twitter, "because services need to span outside the hardware ecosystem."

The iPod Effect

The first iPod launched in 2001, and to sync your music library, you had to own (or buy) a Mac and use a FireWire cable. It wasn’t until the second-generation iPod that Windows support was added, and it wasn’t until the third-gen iPod in 2003 that USB sync was possible and iTunes was made available for Windows.

Now, this makes perfect sense. But back in 2001, the iMac still had a bulbous CRT display, and Apple software on a PC was almost unheard of. And while Apple has opened up somewhat (with apps like iCloud for Windows), it still focuses almost entirely on putting Apple software on Apple hardware. 

The iPod was a success, but it wouldn’t have been a world-changing phenomenon if every buyer had had to buy a Mac to use it. And that’s why Apple is spreading Apple TV around as much as it can.

"I’d say it's a bit like asking why iTunes or iCloud is on Windows or why Apple Music is on Android."

Apple TV Is Everywhere

"The Apple TV box existed before Apple TV+. It's Apple's ‘premium’ experience," says Snell, "[and it] allows them to sell a high-margin box to people who want the full experience, down to the new HomePod home theater feature. But they need TV+ to be everywhere."

TV+ is Apple’s paid subscription service, its alternative to Netflix, HBO, and all the rest. And there’s a big difference between the iPod of 2003, and the Apple TV+ service of today (apart from being hardware and software). The iPod was the best, coolest, and most talked-about MP3 player. Apple TV+ is a fledgeling service with few compelling shows or movies that’s trying to make a mark in a sea of competitors.

Where Can You Use the Apple TV App?

If you have a screen, you can probably watch Apple TV+ on it. The TV app on your iPhone or iPad is a start, or you can use the Apple TV set-top-box, an expensive dongle that also lets you beam video to your TV from other devices. On Macs running macOS Catalina, you can use the Apple TV app.

These days, most smart TVs also run Apple TV. You can also use Amazon’s Fire TV, or your Roku box. And, of course, there’s the Xbox and Playstation consoles

Even if your device doesn’t have a native app, you can just use a browser to watch.

Weakness

If Apple TV+ was a runaway hit, then Apple could use it as leverage to sell more iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. But it isn’t, so Apple has to go where the audience already is, and try to sell the TV shows based on quality. Right now, the lineup isn’t compelling. There are a few decent TV shows, but not enough to keep you paying for a whole year. Apple even extended its year-long free subscription (earned by buying an Apple device last year) for an extra three months.

Maybe Apple TV+ will become the new HBO. But until then, we can enjoy a glimpse of what Apple does when it’s up against serious competition:

It plays nice.