Apple TV+ FAQ: Only $4.99 for the whole family, and you get one year free with new Apple devices

Apple’s streaming service will compete with the likes of Netflix, Disney, and Amazon Prime when it launches this fall. Here’s everything we know so far.

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This fall, Apple will make a risky venture outside its familiar spheres of hardware and software when it launches Apple TV+. The new service features a wide assortment of TV shows funded by Apple’s mountainous cash pile, and the Cupertino company is sparing no expense in its attempt to lure viewers with some of the best-known actors, writers, and directors.

Below, you’ll find a compendium of everything we know about the ambitious service so far, and we’ll keep it updated as we encounter credible rumors and get news from Apple itself.

Updated 09/10/19: Apple has announced Apple TV+ pricing and release date. The first shows launch on November 1, 2019, and the service will cost only $4.99 including Family Sharing. What's more, if customers who buy an Apple TV, Mac, iPad, or iPhone will get one year of Apple TV+ free.

How will you access Apple TV+?

Once it launches, you’ll sign up for and watch Apple TV+ content through Apple’s recently redesigned TV app, which will be available on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and the Mac—in addition to some supported third-party smart TVs.

The TV app redesign introduced Channels for HBO, Starz, and other services, and Apple TV+ will technically count as one of these, although Apple will no doubt emphasize its own content in the app. It already does, in fact, as the current version of the app features a prominent section with previews called “Apple TV+ First Looks.”

Can you watch Apple TV+ shows on non-Apple devices?

Fortunately, yes. In some cases, anyway. You’ll be able to watch Apple TV+ through the TV app on the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and the Mac, but you’ll also be able to use the TV app on the Amazon Fire TV and, eventually, some new sets from Samsung, Roku, LG, Vizio, and Sony. If you have a new set from Samsung, LG, Sony, or Vizio, you should also be able to use AirPlay 2 to broadcast content straight from your iPhone or iPad to the set.

When will Apple launch Apple TV+?

The first Apple TV+ shows will be available on November 1, 2019. Additional shows will roll out over time.

How much will Apple TV+ cost?

During its "By innovation only" event on September 10, Apple shocked the audience by announcing that the service would cost only $4.99 per month. That includes Family Sharing.

What's more, customers who buy an Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, or Mac will get one year of Apple TV+ for free.

Will Apple TV+ have a free trial?

Yes, but it will only last for seven days.

Will Apple TV+ have ads?

No. Apple says that content will have no ads and will be available on demand.

Will Apple bundle Apple TV+ with other services (like Apple Music)?

In a way—provided how you interpret it. As we said above, Apple will give you a free year of Apple TV+ with any purchase of an Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, or Mac . So it’s more of a hardware bundle than the Apple service bundle I imagined earlier this year. Currently it doesn’t look like Apple will produce such a bundle, but earlier in the year NBC’s Dan Byers claimed one was in the works.

How many shows will be available at launch?

Apple is at a disadvantage compared to Disney+ and existing services like Netflix and Amazon Prime because it’s essentially starting from scratch. Fortunately, Apple has a diverse lineup of shows ranging from science fiction and “real-life” dramas to documentaries. As of August 2019, there are more than 30 known productions, but the Bloomberg report claims only five will be available at launch.

For months, we’ve maintained a list of every Apple TV+ show we know about, and you should check that out for a better look of what Apple has up its sleeve.

Will Apple make movies in addition to TV shows?

Yes. According to a June report from the New York Post, Apple wants to make six “small-budget” movies every year, and it wants these films to be so good that they’ll be nominated for Academy Awards.

Apple was reportedly inspired by the stunning success of Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 monochrome drama Roma, which won 2019 Oscars for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best International Feature despite being made for Netflix. The company then started approaching "elevated" directors in the hopes of producing Oscar-worthy films of its own, each with a budget of around $5 million to $30 million.

These Apple-produced films would be in addition to the multiyear agreement Apple has with A24, the studio behind the 2016 drama Moonlight. The first film to come out of that agreement is On the Rocks, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones.

It’s currently not clear if Apple only plans to release these movies on Apple TV+ or if it’s seeking limited theatrical runs (as Netflix did with Roma).

Will you be able to download shows for offline viewing?

It appears so, based on code MacRumors discovered in the macOS Catalina beta in August. It also looks as though Apple will place limits on how many shows you can download at once or how many times you can download a show. If you already have a show downloaded on one device, Apple TV+ will probably ask you to delete it when you try to download it on another one.

Apple may allow users to download more shows depending on their subscription plan, Family Sharing, or devices, but this is pure speculation.

Will Apple allow simultaneous streaming?

Yes, but the MacRumors report suggests Apple will place limits on this as well. If you try to steam on more than one device, you’ll likely get a message that telling you to stop streaming on one device if you want to stream on another. Again, this may change depending on which plan or device you have.

How much money is Apple spending on Apple TV+?

According to an August 2019 report from the Financial Times, Apple has expanded the budget for Apple TV+ to more than $6 billion. The service reportedly originally started with a budget of $1 billion for 2018 and $2 billion for 2019.

The same report claims that Apple is even spending huge amounts of cash for each episode of its most highly anticipated shows. The Morning Show, for instance, has apparently exceeded its $15 million-per-episode budget. For perspective, that’s more money per episode than HBO spent during the last season of Game of Thrones.

Apple’s budget still falls short of the whopping $15 billion that Netflix is on track to spend this year, but $6 billion is still a vast number for such a new and untried service.

According to NBC’s Dylan Byers, though, Apple is actually paying “significantly less than” $6 billion. Unfortunately, Byers didn’t elaborate.

Will Apple release episodes once a week or drop entire seasons at once?

It’s currently not clear, and some rumors suggest Apple plans to use different tactics for different shows. The August 2019 Bloomberg report claimed Apple is toying with the idea of releasing three episodes of one show at once and then it would release the remaining episodes from the season on a one-a-week basis. Hopefully—as this strategy seems to see it—three episodes is just enough binging to get you hooked.

Will you be able to use Family Sharing with Apple TV+?

Yes, although the details of how you can use it aren’t known.

Will all Apple TV+ shows be available in 4K?

Apple has said nothing of the sort. The best we can say is that it seems likely that many shows will be available in 4K considering the emphasis on 4K in iTunes. Apple also makes the Apple TV 4K, and high-resolution content from Apple itself would count as a strong selling point for that device.

At the very least, widespread support for 4K video syncs well with Apple’s focus on quality and forward-looking technology. Considering Apple TV+’s rumored subscription fee and the amount of money Apple is pumping into the service, we’d be surprised if Apple didn’t offer 4K support for most programs, honestly.

This story, "Apple TV+ FAQ: Only $4.99 for the whole family, and you get one year free with new Apple devices" was originally published by Macworld.

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