Apple TV Plus Review
Apple TV Plus is Apple’s venture into the subscription streaming service space with its slew of Apple Original TV shows and movies, but is it really as good as it sounds and does it live up to the competition?
Launching two weeks before the hotly anticipated release of Disney Plus in Australia, what everyone wants to know is whether Apple TV Plus is actually a worthy streaming service or whether you’d be better holding off for the library of originals to grow.
While you might not be signing up for the 7-day free trial just so you can check out one original TV show (as is the case for many Disney Plus subscribers), Apple has a slim range of 8 TV shows at launch including The Morning Show, a television drama featuring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, See, a dystopian sci-fi drama starring Jason Momoa, and For All Mankind, a sci-fi series featuring an alternate history of the post-World War II space race.
Here’s our lowdown on Apple TV Plus’s content, pricing and features since launch.
What we cover in our Apple TV Plus review
- How much it costs: $7.99 per month
- When it launched: 2 November 2019
- What’s on Apple TV Plus? 13 movies and TV shows (with more to come every month)
- How many people on one account? 6 streams
- Video/audio quality: 4K HDR, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision
Apple TV Plus App, UI and Accessibility
It’s unsurprising that the Apple TV Plus homepage has been designed to feel seamlessly integrated with Apple’s full range of products and services, featuring Apple’s signature minimalist aesthetic. At first glance, the homepage isn’t dissimilar to a page you’d find up on the Apple Store or the App Store. There’s a whole lot of white space and the clean design is certainly appealing to the eye.
That’s where the pleasantries end. In my experience, attempting to stream any show via web browser during peak WiFi usage times (say post-dinner around 8pm) is nearly impossible. And you won’t be able to watch anything for more than 10 seconds before your video crashes.
To add to that fire, when I tried accessing the Apple TV Plus web browser on my Mac, it asked me to verify my credit card details again to authorise my web viewing. And no, it didn’t let me use my debit card and I don’t own a credit card, so that’s kind of game over. But what Apple user wouldn’t be using the Apple TV App right?
While we’ve all heard about the high streaming quality Apple TV Plus is boasting, there’s a caveat to that: although Apple TV Plus offers 4K HDR on all compatible platforms, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision are only supported on its own devices. Those streaming via AirPlay won’t be able to watch anything in video quality greater than 1080p anyway.
While it’s much easier to quickly browse through the entire range of Apple Originals on Apple TV Plus in one swipe via the app, it’s hard not to notice the extensive range of TV shows and movies that you could rent or purchase for only around $2.99-$5.99 (and who knows, you might feel like splurging on such an accessible collection of all 30 seasons of The Simpsons for $34.99 per season, but you could just sign up for the Disney Plus free subscription trial that Apple links from the store).
To be frank, while the TV shows that you stream through Apple TV Plus may be entirely ad-free, the Apple TV Plus platform blatantly entices you to hire, buy or go watch the latest and greatest movies and TV shows via other streaming services with open arms. The $7.99 per month price tag for Apple TV Plus seems like a hard sell when you compare that with Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, which have over 3000 titles across movies and TV in each library at any one time and a much wider range of original TV shows and films already cocked and loaded in their arsenal. Find out more with our guide to the best paid and free streaming services for TV and movies in 2019.
While there are definitely some exciting series to look forward to in Apple’s large line-up (see our content section below for more details), you’re not getting bang for your buck with Apple TV Plus. Perhaps it’s best to sit tight and wait for the release of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories reboot before you go ahead and subscribe to Apple TV Plus.
The layout is less clustered compared to the row-by-row, square tile format that Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Stan have all adopted, which is less overwhelming but also frustrating if you want to browse across multiple categories of TV shows and films in one glance.
If you’re impatient like me, Apple’s habit of creating ‘endless scrolling’ pages of content gets tiring pretty fast. It makes it hard to find the show you’re looking for without having to go through the entire Apple Originals range available, in the order that Apple has decided to showcase them. While aesthetically pleasing, practical, easy navigation trumps in this case and this is where the Apple TV site, via web browser at least, is sorely lacking.
As mentioned, without any search bar tool available via the Apple TV Plus web browser, it’s impossible to find the video you’re exactly looking for without scrolling through or running your search through Google first. This is likely going to become more of a problem as the movie and TV catalogue gets built out over the coming years.
Navigation isn’t as much of a problem on the app, the issue is more so getting distracted and overloaded by all the other content being pushed on Apple TV (which, spoiler alert, is mostly not coming to your screen for free).
Another big omission is the lack of any rating/review system being displayed on each TV show/ movie page. Netflix champions their own user rating system while other streaming services have opted to display the IMDB score, which do vary in usefulness and objectivity but at least there’s something up there. If you’re a consumer usually curious to see how a new TV show or movie has fared with critics and fans, this feature might massively irk you as it did me. And having to go and search up the reviews for your next binge-watchable film on Google yourself is not very comprehensive of Apple TV Plus and simply wasting your time.
This could have something to do with the fact that the current lineup of Apple TV Plus originals, the one thing its got going for it, have been received poorly on average.
Apple TV Plus accessibility features
If you’re watching Apple TV Plus on an Apple device, you’ll already get access to in-built accessibility features that you can play around with in your settings, including for audio descriptions, subtitles and closed captioning. On both the Apple TV Plus app and via web browser, you’ll see which TV shows and movies have descriptive audio and closed captions available. Currently, most original titles have these features available.
Apple TV Plus has a pretty standard audio description function on offer. There’s nothing major to complain about here, although there’s no in-built option for voice customisation. Using Apple’s VoiceOver function available on all Apple devices, you’ll be able to choose from a selection of voices, modify the speech rate, verbosity and pronunciation and opt to activate braille support if needed (using the iPhone’s haptic feedback).
Subtitles and closed captions
With Apple’s closed captions feature, there are several caption styles to pick from and in several languages (currently only available in English and Bahasa Indonesia for the Australian version). In your Apple device settings, there’s more room to create your own caption style and customise font, background and text elements.
For Apple users utilising Accessibility Shortcut, you can easily control VoiceOver, colour filters, zoom, voice control and other accessibility tools by triple-clicking your iPhone’s side button, or the menu button if you have an Apple TV. This is a handy addition for Apple users and makes it simpler to turn on and off the accessibility features that are important to you. Again, this is a standard hardware feature, not a service feature.
Apple TV Plus Australia Price
Apple TV Plus costs $7.99 per month with each subscription available for up to 6 family members via Family Sharing. That’s a little cheaper than Disney Plus and more expensive than Prime Video’s $6.99 price point. It’s a cheap monthly cost as far as streaming subscriptions go but with the lightweight content offering, it’s hard to imagine Apple charging anything more.
Apple Plus Free Trial
There’s currently a 7-day free trial available, followed by the $7.99 monthly subscription cost.
Alternatively, you can get a free year of subscription when you buy a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or Apple TV from Apple or an Apple authorised seller.
Tertiary students will be able to get free access to Apple TV Plus when they subscribe to the Apple Music Student Plan.
And how does the Apple TV Plus launch price, free trial and features weigh up against the competition? Let’s take a look.
|Service||Apple TV Plus||Disney Plus||Netflix||Stan||Foxtel Now||Prime Video|
|Monthly Price||$7.99||$8.99||$9.99 to $19.99||$10 to $17||$25 (Pop + Lifestyle)||$6.99|
|Equivalent monthly price||N/A||$7.49||N/A||N/A||N/A||$4.99|
|Free trial||7 days||7 days||1 month||30 days||14 days||30 days|
|Max. video resolution||4K HDR (Included)||4K (Included)||4K (Premium)||4K (Premium)||HD (Included)||4K (Included)|
|Simultaneous streams||6 (Included)||4 (Included)||4 (Premium)||4 (Premium)||2 (Included)||3 (Included)|
|Offline viewing (downloads)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
Apple TV Plus Australia Content
What content is available in Australia?
While you’ll be able to access Apple TV Plus’s full collection of TV shows, series and movies in Australia, you may find the breadth of its launch library pretty underwhelming compared to the number of options available on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or even the recently launched Disney Plus Australia.
Apple Plus TV shows
So, is it really worth subscribing to get a hold of these original Apple TV Plus shows and series?
There are several series currently available at launch, including The Morning Show, See, Dickinson and For All Mankind, as well as documentary The Elephant Queen and the first episode of Oprah’s Book Club. For the kids, Apple TV Plus has on offer the full series of Ghostwriter, Helpsters and Snoopy in Space. Other dramas, such as Servant and Truth Be Told, are the most recent additions to the library.
There are some exciting titles in the works, such as Asimov’s Foundation if you’re a sci-fi fan like myself and Steven Spielberg’s revival of his 1980s Amazing Stories anthology series. However, it will disappoint some that most TV episodes will be released weekly (apart from Dickinson and some kids shows which have dropped the entire series), so if you were hoping to take the opportunity to binge-watch as many new series as you could on your 7-day free trial, you’re out of luck.
Apple TV Plus Movies
At the moment, documentary The Elephant Queen which is part of Sundance 2019 is leading the helm for the Apple TV Plus film lineup. The Banker, set to be one of the first Apple TV Plus films to be released, has been pushed back due to sexual abuse allegations of its real-life protagonist.
Other than that, there are a few more Apple TV Plus movies on the way, including a spy drama starring Gary Oldman, a hotly bidded for musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol featuring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, and On The Rocks, the anticipated Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray reunion.
Apple has not yet confirmed a rollout or announced release dates as yet, so you could be waiting for months, years, or find out later that one of these projects has been completely cancelled. So best not to get your hopes up until Apple announces any official release dates for these.
Apple has also announced plans to roll out 6 small-budget films each year. While Apple doesn’t have the rich cinematic history backing it up like Disney Plus, it has been aggressively bidding for big ticket projects, so if those pan out, Apple TV Plus could be worth your time in the future, but that’s all hot air at the moment.
Apple TV Plus device compatibility
What devices can you watch Apple TV Plus on?
You can access Apple TV Plus both online and offline, on the web browser or through the Apple TV app. The app is compatible with most up-to-date Apple devices including Apple TV set-top boxes, iPhones, iPads, iPod touches and Macs, plus supported Samsung smart TVs and streaming media devices such Amazon Fire TV sticks and LG TVs via AirPlay.
Mac users who haven’t upgraded to the latest macOS 10.15 Catalina can access Apple TV Plus online at tv.apple.com/au. Those with Chromecast or Android TV can also utilise the Cast function to mirror their mobile device screen onto an HDMI-connected TV. However, be prepared to stream in a much lower video quality than you would via a native app.
Apple TV Plus Family Sharing
Apple TV Plus is offering up to 6 simultaneous streams per subscription, meaning you could either share your Apple ID (which you might not want to do with friends and family) or opt for setting up Family Sharing.
With Family Sharing, you’ll be able to access your group members’ App Store purchases and Apple subscriptions without giving out your Apple ID information. So it’s a little more complicated than just sharing your Netflix login with a friend.
Getting this sorted might take an extra step but the upside is that anyone with a supported Apple device running iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite or later can join your family, or you can accept an invite to join a family. You can only be part of one family group at a time though.
Apple TV Plus FAQs
Here are the questions people are asking about Apple TV Plus in Australia.
Apple TV Plus AU vs US TV shows and movies
The library of movies and TV shows you can access on Apple TV Plus is the same whether you’re in Australia, US or in any of the 100+ countries where Apple TV Plus is available in.
Apple TV Plus login: How to sign up
If you didn’t already have one, you’ll need an Apple ID to login and purchase Apple TV Plus. You can sign up at tv.apple.com/au or via the Apple TV App which comes installed on your Apple device with the latest iOS/macOS.
Can I download everything from Apple TV Plus?
Yes, everything is available for offline viewing. Otherwise, you can stream your shows and movies via the Apple TV app on supported Apple devices or via the web browser.
Does Apple TV Plus support 4K HDR, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision?
Yes, Apple TV Plus supports 4K HDR on all platforms. Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision are only supported on Apple devices.
What accessibility features does Apple TV Plus offer?
Most titles on Apple TV Plus offer audio descriptions, subtitles and closed captions. With an Apple device, you can also access a wider range of customisable accessibility options such as VoiceOver, subtitle modification and braille support.