Plex stole the best feature from Apple’s TV app (and it even works with Netflix)

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When Apple launched its TV for Apple TV in 2016, it promised to become a single hub for all your favorite streaming content, even across multiple services.

For the most part, Apple delivered on that promise, at least as much as it could. It wasn’t able to get everyone to buy into the idea – Netflix stubbornly resisted, for example – but it works well for almost everything else. Even Amazon Prime Video only took a year to get on board.

In the case of Apple, the TV The app was an extension of the Universal Search feature built into tvOS since its inception in 2015. TV app has simply taken this search to a whole new level while adding a look now which would collect every show you watch, no matter what service it was on.

It’s a feature you obviously won’t find on too many other streaming apps, as mainstream services aren’t about to direct you to their rivals. Search for your favorite actor in the Hulu app and you will only find the movies they are in that are available on Hulu. Search in Apple TV app, and you’ll see hits on all the services you’ve subscribed to that relate to Apple’s platform.

Even with Apple TV+ now in the mix, Apple has no reason to prevent its users from searching for content on other services. Apple TV+ is about original content – and it’s all exclusive to Apple – so it’s not like you’re going to find anything on Apple TV+ that you find elsewhere or vice versa.

However, there’s another player in the game that also doesn’t care where you watch your content: Plex, the company best known for managing personal media libraries.

Although Plex has recently expanded into offering a catalog of free movies and TV shows, this is more about improving the user experience of the Plex ecosystem than creating a new empire of the streaming.

Discovery of plexes

This week, Plex announcement that it brings a new set of features to users’ home screens to provide them with the same kind of one-stop viewing hub that Apple’s TV app has become known for.

In its blog post, Plex shared the rather staggering statistic that streaming viewers in the US collectively spend over 600 million minutes each night trying to figure out what to watch. We all seem to be victims of having too many choices.

Ahhh the app dance. You know the one where you sit down with the best intentions of watching a movie, but after 30 minutes of freaking out from one streaming app to another, you finally ditch the remote and fall asleep in Seinfeld…again. If you don’t like this familiar routine, you’re not alone.Complex

This week, Plex is launching a new section in the Plex app that will let you discover and find your movies and TV shows on just about any streaming service, even Apple TV+.

The list of services is quite long. All the big players are there, and quite a few smaller ones too. I counted 75 in total in Canada; those in the United States may have even more options, as many smaller providers are country-specific. Even services like Google Play Movies and YouTube are included.

Plex also has a leg up on Apple here:

  1. Plex is platform independent. Apple’s TV app is available on many smart TVs, game consoles and set-top boxes; however, third-party streaming services are limited to the version that runs on Apple devices. The Plex app is available pretty much everywhere, and aside from some understandable UI differences, it works the same no matter what platform you’re using it on.
  2. Plex includes Netflix. It’s unclear how the company succeeded, but it did.
  3. Personal media libraries are included. Search for a movie or show and you’ll not only see if it’s available on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc., but you’ll also see results from your own media library and any libraries your friends share with you.
  4. There is no upselling. If you’ve ever searched for a movie or TV show in Apple’s TV app, you’ve no doubt noticed that your results often include content available for purchase (or rental) from the iTunes Store. . That’s fine if you’re willing to pay for a blockbuster movie, but most of the time those extra results get in the way.
  5. Plex has a much better app. Okay, this one’s a bit subjective, but you don’t have to look far to find that a lot of people aren’t happy with Apple. TV application. Apple has improved this in recent years, but it still feels cluttered and awkward at the best of times. It also lacks some arguably basic features, such as the ability to disable autoplay. On the other hand, Plex is highly customizable; you can arrange things exactly the way you want and even choose your favorite color theme.

Plex works like the Apple TV app when it comes to watching content from other streaming services; you will be redirected to the service’s native application, so you must always have it installed, and of course, you must be subscribed to this service. Plex’s role is to give you a single starting point, as well as a unified watchlist.

Best of all, the Unified Watchlist doesn’t care what service your content is on. So if you add a show to your Plex watchlist from Hulu, it will stay there even if Hulu removes it and it appears on Netflix instead. When it comes time to watch it, you’ll see the service it’s currently on, regardless of where it was when you added it.

You can even add movies to your watchlist that haven’t been released yet, as the movie search will also show trailers for upcoming feature films. Add one to your watchlist and Plex will keep track of it, telling you when it’s in theaters, when it’s available to rent, and when it’s on your favorite streaming services.

New Discover and Universal Watchlist the features are rolling out in beta today and are available to all Plex users at no additional cost.

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