The redesigned Apple TV app, first announced at the company’s March event, is released today on iOS, Apple TV and Samsung’s latest smart TVs. To achieve this, Apple is rolling out updated versions of iOS and tvOS with a refreshed look and support for a new lineup of paid Apple TV channels, including HBO, Showtime, Starz, Epix and other networks. . Users can subscribe to Apple TV channels directly from the Apple TV app, and all content can also be viewed directly within the app.
The Apple TV app is where the Apple TV+ service, featuring original Apple programming, will be when it launches this fall. And all of your iTunes movies and TV shows, whether purchased or rented, will also live in the TV app going forward.
Apple has promised top-notch video and audio presentation for Apple TV channels. When you subscribe to HBO or another network through Apple TV Channels, Apple – not the video partner – handles the encoding and delivers the streams, so the company has full control over the bitrate and audio fidelity. So far, Apple isn’t offering details on stream quality details for HBO or other available subscriptions, but it’s certainly targeting top rivals like Amazon Prime Video, which offers some of the same premium channels. If you come back and look at it real dark The iron Throne episode again, hopefully you’ll see less banding, pixelation, and other signs of compression from the Apple version. All Apple TV Channels offer a one-week free trial and can be used by anyone in your Family Sharing group.
Each Apple TV channel‘s interface is designed and maintained by Apple, but the company takes feedback from its partners in an effort to make things consistent across other apps on a network. You can scroll through scrolls of content à la Netflix, but Apple has also offered a flashy full-screen map view to navigate between content with a swipe left or right on the Apple TV remote. (Trailers will play automatically when browsing this way.)
Another really handy thing about Apple TV Channels is that all of them support downloads for offline viewing. Not even HBO Now and HBO Go currently let you download movies or shows, but the Apple TV app does. For some networks, these offline videos will act as iTunes rentals; once you press play you will get a window to finish watching them before the download times out. Again, Apple says users can expect the best quality for whatever device they’re downloading to, whether it’s an iPhone or iPad (or the Mac starting this fall).
Elsewhere, the “new” Apple TV app is going to feel very familiar. The layout is largely the same as before, with an Up Next section at the top that groups shows, movies, or sports games you’ve already started watching. Below is what to watch, where Apple’s editors showcase the content they want you to see. This will not necessarily be limited to applications to which you subscribe; even if you don’t have HBO, The iron Throne and other must-haves will be placed here. Content of one of these applications – over 150 in total – is fair game to show up in Apple TV app recommendations.
But Apple supplements its own editorial suggestions with personalized recommendations. You’ll see a For You row which, like Apple Music, brings together movie and show choices based on your previous viewing. Below are several “Because you watched ____” lines with even more personalized selections.
You’ll always find the dedicated Sports section with scores from ongoing matches and rows for your favorite teams. Brand new, however, is a Kids tab that’s curated entirely by Apple’s editorial staff: no algorithms are at play here, so anything that appears should be safe for all ages. Now, sports and children’s programs will still give you access to third-party apps, and that goes for much of what you’ll see on the main Apple TV home screen as well. If it’s not a string, you’re jumped to another app when you press play.
On Samsung TVs, the Apple TV experience is a bit different and more limited. It strictly revolves around the content you get from Apple. Your purchased and rented shows/movies will be there, as will your Apple TV channels. (HBO will stream directly from inside the app, just like on Apple TV and iOS.) But on Samsung hardware, you won’t find any links to third-party apps like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or those from the cable companies. It’s likely that this will also be true for the eventual Apple TV app on Roku and other platforms, but Apple isn’t ready to share any details on that just yet.
Along with the new Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 is launching today in 2019 and select 2018 Samsung TVs. Vizio, LG, and Sony will add the same feature later this year.