Apple TV+ is Apple’s new, long-rumored on-demand streaming service. Designed to compete against the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and the new Disney+ service, Apple is trying to throw the weight of its name around to get subscribers and win a piece of the streaming market. But is Apple TV+ ready for prime time? Find out more in our extensive 2020 Apple TV+ review.
What Is Apple TV+?
Apple TV+ is the on-demand streaming service that the observers long-expected Apple to bring to market. Apple TV+ officially launched in the US on November 1, 2019, although industry insiders had reported that Apple was working to bring such a service to market for several years.
In 2015, rumors of Apple working on its own on-demand streaming service designed to rival Netflix were confirmed in a few media reports. At the time, the company was courting various media companies with the hopes of securing licensing agreements and bundles to add content to its planned service.
Unfortunately for Apple, its efforts to get licensing agreements failed. According to news outlets, a mixture of Apple trying to throw its weight around to get sweet-heart deals, combined with the abrasiveness of its negotiator, led to no media companies offering their content to Apple TV+. The result? Apple TV+ launched with a super-slim library of 100% original content.
Apple did a good job of ignoring its lackluster content library on launch by making sure the library was fairly star-studded. Its content features big names like Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carrell, Jason Mamoa, Reese Witherspoon, Samuel L. Jackson, and Anthony Mackie.
Apple TV+ 60-Second Summary
Apple TV+ is Apple’s entry in the on-demand streaming market. For a low price, you can get access to a small handful of star-studded, original streaming content. Apple promises to deliver an expanding array of original content across multiple genres, including kids and family, drama, thriller/horror, science-fiction and documentaries.
The service has a few gaps, however, especially for Android fans. Beyond the Amazon Fire TV, no true Android devices are supported, as Apple is trying its hardest to get subscribers to purchase Apple products.
All the same, almost anyone can get a 7-day free trial to Apple TV+ to judge for themselves whether Apple’s new service is a potentially good option to add to the ever-growing list of streamers.
Apple TV+ Pros and Cons
There are some things to like about Apple TV+. However, the service has a fair number of legitimate criticisms weighing it down.
- Original content: The service offers an all-original line-up with many well-known and well-liked actors and actresses.
- Apple’s planned spending: Apple plans to spend billions of dollars per year on content, giving Apple TV+ a good amount of future potential.
- Shareable: Apple offers 6 simultaneous streams per account, which is far more than every other major competitor.
- Too much buffering. The streaming experience through CBS All Access can be a pain with so much buffering for on-demand and live content.
- Pricey for what you get: $4.99 per month seems hard to justify for the insanely small amount of content it’s offering.
- No Android support: With no Android support, Apple is intentionally blocking out a large part of the market.
- Poor UI: The small amount of content makes up for it, but Apple TV+ could use a make-over
There’s just one package available through Apple TV+. You can subscribe with a 7-day free trial, and then get the service for $4.99 per month afterward.
Unlike some of its competitors (like Disney+), you can’t purchase a year-long subscription for a discount.
As stated earlier, your Apple TV+ account comes with full access to all of Apple’s original content. At present, that’s no much to speak of. By the end of 2019, the service will only offer around a dozen TV shows, movies, and documentaries.
Apple TV+ Stream Quality
Apple offers HD streaming video through its Apple TV+ streaming service. Depending on the device and the programs you’re streaming, you may also be able to get 4K streaming quality, including Dolby Atmos sound.
The overall experience, however, is not a pleasant one. Videos often take a long time to load and start streaming. There’s also no scene preview available if you’re trying to skip through content, which is pretty much ubiquitous across streaming services these days.
Some content didn’t load at all when I attempted to stream it. For example, I was able to stream The Morning Show and For All Mankind, but when I attempted to open a stream for See, nothing happened. I even had to completely close my browser window and reload Apple TV+, as the “X” button to exit out of the stream failed to work.
Difficulties Accessing Apple TV+ App on iPhone
Apple TV is also a bit confusing when trying to access the service from an iPhone. I currently own an iPhone SE for testing Apple products. Sure, it’s older and not fancy, but it’s supposedly still supported.
Prior to launching Apple TV+, Apple already offered a TV-viewing app called Apple TV (and a streaming device called Apple TV, to make things even more confusing). According to Apple’s App Store, Apple TV+ should be accessible from the included Apple TV app without needing any updates to the software.
However, I found that wasn’t the case. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find Apple TV+ content through Apple TV on the iPhone SE. This may not be the case for newer Apple products. However, none of the methods Apple offers to find its original content through pre-owned iPhones worked in my case.
As one might expect, Apple offers full support for its own device family. According to Apple, you should be able to stream on iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, Apple TV, and Mac computers. Given the number of Apple device users pales in comparison to those using other devices, Apple opened up a little bit to offer support for some non-Apple product users, as well.
You can use CBS All Access with all of the following devices:
- TV streaming media players: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, Roku
- Smart TVs: Samsung Smart TVs, Roku TVs
- Mobile devices and tablets: iOS phones, iPads, iPod Touch
- Game consoles: None
- Desktop browsers: Most common Mac and Windows browsers, such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox
Apple TV+ on Roku
Thankfully, Apple offers strong and wide support for Roku devices. You can stream Apple TV+ on most Roku devices and Roku smart TVs.
Apple TV+ on Fire TV Stick
Although it’s an Android-based device, Apple decided to extend support for the popular Amazon Fire TV line of TV-connected streaming devices. You can download and stream the Apple TV+ app on every Fire TV device, including Fire TV Stick basic, 2nd generation, Apple TV Stick 4K, and the Fire TV Cube.
Apple TV+ on Apple TV
Apple TV+ works natively on the Apple TV device. According to Apple, you should be able to access its Apple TV+ content through the Apple TV app already available on your Apple TV or Apple TV 4K device.
Apple TV+ on iPhones and iPads
Apple TV+ is also made to work immediately on iPhones and iPads. As with the Apple TV tv-connected streaming device, you should be able to find Apple TV+ through the Apple TV app.
(As noted earlier, I struggled to find the Apple TV+ original content on a fully updated iPhone SE, so older iPhone versions may not be supported. Apple, however, does not make any indication of this being the case in its online knowledgebase materials.)
Apple TV+ on Android Phones and Tablets
At this time, Apple does not offer support for Android phones or tablets. And while you can log into Apple TV from your Chrome app, there’s a good chance the videos won’t load. During testing, I attempted this method and found videos would not load through mobile version of the browser page.
However, you can get Apple TV+ to work on your Android apps by switching your Chrome browser app’s page to “Desktop version”. The only difficulty with this method is that it’ll be a rather huge drain on your phone’s battery.
Apple wants you to pay $4.99 for its streaming service, which at first sounds great. After all, Netflix charges a minimum of $8.99 per month, while even Disney+ comes in at $6.99 per month.
Once you see the amount of content available, however, you may balk at the price.
As of this time of writing, the only titles available on Apple TV+ are the following:
- The Morning Show (Drama, TV Series)
- See (Sci-Fi Drama, TV Series)
- For All Mankind (Sci-Fi Drama, TV Series)
- Dickinson (Comedy, TV Series)
- Ghostwriter (Kids and Family, TV Series)
- Helpsters (Kids and Family, TV Series)
- Snoopy in Space (Kids and Family, Shorts)
- Oprah’s Book Club (Talk Show, TV Series)
- The Elephant Queen (Nature Documentary, Movie)
- Servant (Drama, TV Series)
- Hala (Drama, Movie)
- Truth Be Told (Drama, TV Series)
There’s more than that launched in early 2020. Apple currently has a large amount of content planned for later in 2020 and beyond, somewhat redeeming the small library offered at launch. Check out our Apple TV+ content library list for more.
If you’re an Apple TV+ subscribers, there are four main avenues for customer support:
- Searchable knowledgebase and articles
- Phone support
- Chat support
- Community forum
Whichever option you use is up to your personal needs. However, our testing shows the knowledgebase isn’t the greatest. Apple simply does not have a lot of information regarding issues with its Apple TV+ service, at present. Your best option is to either use chat support or phone support.
Chat support is not always available, however, so phone support may end up being your only option. If you can’t find chat support, but you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer, you may be able to use the Apple Support App instead.
If you signed up to Apple TV+ only to find the offering was too lackluster to justify the price, you can cancel quite easily. Simply do the following:
1. Go to your settings (top right corner profile pic)
2. Click on the “account settings” label
3. Scroll to the bottom and locate “Subscriptions”. Then, click “Manage”
4. Under “Edit Your Subscription” select “Cancel Subscription”
5. Under “Confirm Cancellation” select “Cancel Subscription”
5. Finally, click “Done” to confirm you’ve canceled your account
Apple will allow you to continue using your TV+ account until the end of the paid-for term, or until the end of the free trial.
Apple TV+ Refund Policy
You cannot get a refund after paying for Apple TV+. You can still watch until the end of the term, but you won’t be able to get your money back following payment. That said, circumstances can vary, so you may be able to convince a support person to offer a refund if you try hard enough, though it’s highly unlikely.
Apple TV is…interesting, to say the least. The service was highly anticipated prior to entering the market, and many observers projected that it could shake things up in the streaming market. However, post-launch, Apple appears to have struggled to create a service that offers any real value to subscribers.
Yes, the content currently available is jam-packed with household names. And yes, the price is distinctly cheap compared to other services on the market. But with about a dozen titles at launch and only 2 additional titles so far announced for 2020, there’s very little reason to give Apple TV+ any money. You can watch the entire content library in with the 7-day free trial.
Combined with the baffling lack of Android support and the poor streaming experience, Apple TV+ is currently a yes for a free trial, but a hard no if you’re thinking about subscribing beyond that point.