Review – The New Apple TV App: A Good Idea That Needs Work

By Anna Breuer on 22 May 2019
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With the release of Apple’s new Apple TV app that inexplicably carries the same name as its set top box, the company that revolutionized portable music players and smartphones wants to do the same for television.

Unfortunately, it falls short of what is a very admirable goal, that is to create one overarching environment in which to watch one’s favorite programs.

The new Apple TV app is standard on all iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV set-top boxes with the latest software updates and setup is a breeze. Simply click the Apple TV icon on your device, give it permission to access information from other streaming apps present on the device, and off you go.

Except if you rely largely on Netflix for content. Or broadcast television.

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Apple TV app welcome screen

The Apple TV app can connect nicely with Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, and Starz, and in the United Kingdom with ITV, BBC, and Channel 5 among others.

The key new feature in the app is Apple TV Channels, which allows users to subscribe to the HBOs and Showtimes of the television universe directly although one must then watch programs from within the TV App.

In addition to allowing one to watch movie channels, it also lets one rent films and shows directly from Apple. Unfortunately, if you only want to watch your own sideloaded videos, the experience is subpar.

The app brings convenience to the mess that is the televerse. All billing is through Apple and the app supports offline viewing, something that the majority of content apps otherwise don’t support. Limitations include the inability to watch content in their native apps such as HBO Go, something that a subscription via a cable provide would include.

After using the new Apple TV app for a week on my Apple TVs, I found myself starting to skip the app by going directly to the content provider in instances where I knew exactly what I wanted to watch – and the lack of inclusion of Netflix played a big part in this as I had just started to watch the Israeli series “Shtisel” and was in the middle of several other series on that service.

BOTTOM LINE

While the convenience of a single billing entity is great (and may encourage users to spend more money than planned, given the ease of use), and the ability to view shows offline that otherwise are off limits, the Apple TV app isn’t ready for prime time – or even daytime repeats.

In short, the new Apple TV app is a great idea when it comes to improving the viewing experience but, in its first iteration, these great idea has yet to be realized in practice.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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