9 things you need to know

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After months of speculation, rumors and leaks, Apple has finally unveiled its plans for the future of TV, and it comes down to two parts: there’s a new subscription service coming this fall called Apple TV+ , and a revamped Apple TV app, coming this spring.

We’ve covered Apple TV+ in a separate article, but here’s what you need to know about the new TV app and how Apple hopes it will change streaming and become the new destination for cord-cutters.

A new design, but not many new features

Although the TV app has a newly refreshed design, you will recognize many features from the current app. The Up Next section, which displays a list of upcoming episodes of shows you’ve watched, as well as TV shows or movies you’ve stopped in the middle, is still there. The same goes for the sections for TV shows, movies, sports, kids, and your library of shows or movies you own.

Apple

The new TV app has most of the same functionality as the existing app, with a refreshed look.

It works with a few cable TV and streaming providers

Apple’s TV app will show content from a few traditional TV providers through their streaming apps, such as Spectrum, Optimum, and DirecTV. It also works with streaming providers like Hulu, fuboTV, and PlayStation Vue. None of this is new – the TV app does it today. And unlike Apple TV channels, you won’t be able to subscribe to these services from the app. Instead, you’ll need to install the appropriate apps, which you’ll use to watch the content. You will simply see their content integrated with your recommendations and your Up Next list.

Apple TV services Apple

The new Apple TV app works with these services, just like the current TV app. But you can’t subscribe to it from the app.

Apple TV Channels integrates on-demand services

The biggest change to the TV app is the addition of Apple TV Channels, where you can subscribe to a host of premium TV offerings directly from the TV app. Apple showed a list of 26 partners, including Starz, Epix, CBS All Access, Comedy Central, Showtime, HBO and Cinemax. You’ll subscribe (or start a free trial) to any of these channels right in the TV app, using your existing Apple ID, with just a few clicks.

apple tv channels Apple

Apple offers many channels, but there are many notable exceptions.

Then you will be able to access each channel to see the content it offers, all available on demand, streamed directly within the app. There are no extra apps to install, and Apple promises the best picture and sound quality available, full Siri integration, and quality-of-life features like a “skip intro” button.

Apple also says content from the channels will be downloadable for offline viewing.

The situation of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu has not changed

The new and improved Apple TV app still doesn’t integrate with Netflix. So, if you want to watch Netflix on your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, you will need to launch the Netflix app. And Netflix shows won’t appear in your Up Next queue.

Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, the other two big streaming services in the US, half support the Apple TV app. If you have them installed, they will include their content in the Watch Now tab recommendations, and you will see their programs in the Up Next list. But you won’t be able to subscribe or watch this content directly in the TV app, like you would with Apple TV Channels. Instead, you’ll access the associated app to do so.

In other words, the new TV app treats Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video exactly as it does today.

New app coming to iOS in May, macOS in the fall

The revamped app, with access to Apple TV channels, will land on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV in May. But there’s big news for people who love watching on their Mac: Apple is bringing the TV app to macOS for the first time. It won’t arrive until the fall, likely as part of macOS 10.15.

Apple brings the TV app to smart TVs

Want to watch on the big screen but don’t have and don’t want Apple TV? Apple is also bring the TV app to smart TVs. Its partners include Samsung, Sony, Vizio and LG (all brands that announced AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support earlier this year). Apple says it will start rolling out to Samsung TVs in the spring, with other brands to follow.

The TV app is also coming to Roku and Fire TV

Already have a Roku or Fire TV box? In a somewhat shocking turn of events, Apple announced that the TV app would also be coming to these two devices. Apple has not given a timeframe for its release on these platforms.

apple tv roku fire tv Apple

The TV app on Roku and Fire TV? Did hell just freeze over?

Family Sharing is included for channels

All channels you subscribe to will have Family Sharing enabled at no additional cost, so you can share your subscriptions with your family without sharing your password. Just like with Apple Music, your family members will have their own recommendations, Up Next queue, and more.

Note that Free Family Sharing is only for Apple TV channels, not for external services that integrate with the Apple TV app but that you subscribe to outside of it (like Hulu or Amazon Prime Video).

The TV app will be available worldwide

Apple TV countryApple

The current TV app is available in 10 countries. The new one will be in over 100.

The TV app is currently only available in 10 countries. The new app will be available in over 100 countries. However, that doesn’t mean that every service that integrates with it and every channel partner Apple TV will be available in over 100 countries. Some regional restrictions will apply.

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