AppleTV+ Is Planning To Add Augmented Reality Companion Content

AppleTV+ has tried free trials. It's tried building out its back catalog with beloved classic movies and shows. It's bought a big-budget Martin Scorsese film. So what else can the new streaming platform do to attract and retain new subscribers? It will reportedly introduce us to an augmented reality — that is, augmented reality content that will act as a companion to the AppleTV+ streaming service.

Apple is reportedly planning to add augmented reality companion content to its streaming service next year, according to a new report by Bloomberg. The AR content will implement objects or characters from the AppleTV+ titles, which would be overlaid onto real-world environments via an iPhone or iPad app.

Bloomberg reports that the experiences are being designed to draw in and retain new subscribers, as well as promote Apple's AR technology. The AR companion content will be something akin to bonus content, like a director's commentary for a movie, Bloomberg describes:

Someone watching a moon-walking scene in the Apple show "For All Mankind" might be able to see a virtual lunar rover on their device's display, seemingly perched atop their living room coffee table.

Apple had originally intended to launch the feature this year, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed its plans. And the company is going all-in on the concept of augmented reality beyond its streaming service, too. Earlier this year, Apple added a LIDAR sensor to the iPad Pro to improve the AR capabilities of Apple tablets, and the company is also rumored to be working on a pair of head-mounted AR-capable devices, with Apple expected to launch an AR-capable headset by 2022, followed by AR glasses in 2023.

AppleTV+ launched in November last year, but Bloomberg notes that many of its subscribers are still using the free subscriptions that came with the purchase of new Apple devices. With those free trials set to expire soon, the concern is that they won't stick around for original titles, which have mostly failed to garner much buzz overall (though The Morning Show landed a few awards show nominations). According to Bloomberg, about 10 million people had signed up for AppleTV+ by February, but only about half that number actively used the service.

So Apple appears to be actively exploring other means of retaining subscribers, like releasing this AR companion content, as well as creating possible podcasts to act as companions for a few Apple TV+ shows.