AppleTV plus

Nearly two years after first announcing that they’d be entering the streaming video realm in a significant way, Apple has finally pulled back the curtain and revealed some major details about its new video service, which is called AppleTV+. Here’s everything we know about it.

Apple reportedly spent about a billion dollars on original content last year, and now we’re finally starting to get a better idea of what they have in store: AppleTV+, a “new service unlike anything that’s been done before.” Unfortunately, there are no details yet about how much it will cost.

After playing up the importance of storytelling in our culture, CEO Tim Cook introduced the heads of the company’s TV division: Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who dropped this pretty damn amazing concept video featuring people like Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan, Ron Howard, Octavia Spencer, Sofia Coppola, and more.

That video is more like a testament to the power of making entertainment than a reveal of any actual information, but some actual details soon followed.

Spielberg AppleTV+

Spielberg took the stage to introduce his anthology series Amazing Stories, talking about his history with the magazine and how excited he is to bring it back to television.

The Morning Show Apple stage

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston were joined by Steve Carell to introduce The Morning Show, which will “take an honest look at the complex relationships between women and men at the workplace and engage in the conversation people are a little too afraid to have unless they’re behind closed doors.” The show will address our “complicated cultural moment.”

Momoa Apple

Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard introduced See, their sci-fi series about experiencing the world without the sense of sight. It’s a futuristic world devastated by war, and centuries later, the human race has existed for so long afterward without sight that it’s disputed whether or not it ever existed. Steven Knight (Locke, Serenity) is the showrunner.

Kumail Apple

Kumail Nanjiani introduced Little America, immigrants doing “everyday life stuff.” It’s not about telling immigrant stories – these are human stories about people partially designed to help obliterate the notion of “the other.” One of the episodes tells the amazing true story of a kid who secretly ran a hotel after his parents were deported, and competed in a spelling bee to meet First Lady Laura Bush to ask for her help. The majority of the writers and directors are either immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Sesame Street Apple

Then Big Bird came out with a Muppet character called Cody to introduce a show called Helpsters, which is aimed at preschoolers and helps teach kids how to code, “giving them the opportunity to change the world.” There’s music and dancing, too.

Abrams Apple

J.J. Abrams and singer Sara Bareilles introduced Little Voices, a “funny, romantic show” about a young woman who has to find her voice as an artist and as a person through music. The main character is a flawed musician living in New York, learning to find herself and her voice alongside bandmates. Bareilles is a co-creater, producer, and composer, and she sat down to the piano to play the show’s theme song, a soulful ballad with inspiring lyrics that sounds like you’d heard it on an adult contemporary radio station.

Oprah Apple

And finally, Oprah Winfrey came out to announce that she’s joined forces with Apple because the fact that they’re in “a billion pockets” represents a major opportunity to create “positive change” and “illuminate consciousness.” Oprah announced two documentaries: Toxic Labor, about sexual assault and harassment, and unnamed multi-part series focusing on mental health. Plus, “the biggest, the most vibrant, the most stimulating book club on the planet,” a club in which Apple stores stream a conversation with Oprah and an author across all devices. “I want to literally convene a meeting of the minds connecting us through books,” she said.

Users will be able to experience all these shows and movies on the Apple TV app, in the form of an ad-free subscription service. It’s all going to be On-Demand, available both online and offline, and feature exclusive new shows, with new additions every month. The presentation wasn’t forthcoming about specifics beyond that, except that it will be available sometime this fall. A recent report speculated that the service wouldn’t be ready as early as anticipated because Cook and other Apple executives have been so hands-on with the creation of these shows that their wave of notes have necessitated delays.

Other Useful Information

Elsewhere in the presentation, Apple’s vice president of services, Peter Stern, gave a few more details about the new additions to the Apple TV app. He announced Apple TV Channels, which lets you only pay for the channels you want, all in one app. The new app is personalized “using advanced machine learning from the subscriptions you already have so we can help you find your next favorite show.” And even if you have cable from a company like Spectrum and subscribe to other services like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, it will all be in one place: no more bouncing from app to app.

Apple TV will also present current sports games with live scores, and it will be able to send you notifications when your favorite team is having a close game. In the movies section, trailers will play when you hover over a title like they do on Netflix; in yet another page from Netflix’s playbook, Apple TV will give you the option to skip the intro and jump straight into episodes of the show you’re watching.

The update to the app will be available in May, and is coming to Macs sometime this fall. And finally, the Apple TV app will also soon be coming to smart TVs, including those from industry leaders like Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio, and will be available on Roku and Amazon FireTV. It’ll help to have that digital infrastructure in place by the time all those new shows and movies start to debut later this year, but it’s hard to come away from this entire presentation without a sense of disappointment that more specific details weren’t announced. We’ll keep you posted when we hear more.

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