As promised at a press event back in March, Apple has overhauled its TV app on iOS and Apple TV, letting you browse across 150 streaming video sources and subscribe to a handful of channels directly through Apple.
The new app includes larger image thumbnails in the “Up Next” row, so it’s easier to see all the shows you’re currently watching, and it adds a new “What to Watch” row with personalized recommendations. The app also breaks out movies and TV shows into individual sections and adds a new section for kids.
Apple is also now selling direct subscriptions to HBO, Showtime, Starz, and a dozen other video services. While those providers already offer individual apps on their own, subscribing through Apple means you don’t have to manage separate billing systems or switch between different app menus. Apple is also allowing downloads for these services on iPhone or iPad, so you can finally watch HBO offline. Meanwhile, Samsung has added support for Apple’s TV app, Apple TV Channels, and AirPlay 2 to its 2019 TVs and select 2018 models, so you can access Apple’s subscription services and iTunes store without buying more Apple TVs. Support for Vizio, LG, and Sony TVs is coming later this year, and support for Roku and Fire TV devices is in the works as well.
While the new TV app and Channels offerings are pleasant updates, they’re not a magic solution to streaming TV’s longstanding aggregation headaches. Services that aren’t part of Apple TV Channels, like Hulu and Amazon Prime, will still launch their own apps when accessed through Apple’s unified menu, and they still use their own billing systems. And aside from a handful of premium channels, most cable channels remain ensconced within larger pay TV packages, which also have their own apps and billing systems.
As for Apple TV+, Apple’s push into original video is still scheduled for the fall, with no word on pricing.