Well, Apple has announced that it’s looking to edge Netflix and Amazon Prime out of business with its own souped-up streaming service, news that might be of passing interest to someone with eyes and/or ears. The announcement was made at the Steve Jobs Theater in California as part of one of those cult leader ceremonies they do, like if Charles Manson and Anjelica Huston in The Witches had teamed up to launch their own version of something that already exists in a perfectly acceptable form, such as a microwave or small travel ironing board.
But will Apple TV Plus be any good? Is it worth cancelling your Netflix subscription for? Let’s look at the evidence – this, sadly, will mean watching the the company’s launch presentation, which was part of a keynote used to plug their new gaming app and magazine service – so help us God.
What will be on Apple TV Plus?
There’s a quite exciting trailer that mashes up clips of Jason Momoa and Jennifer Aniston in two different dramas, while Steven Spielberg has signed up to make a science fiction anthology series called Amazing Stories (which sounds better than a harrowing real-time 760-hour documentary about some poor bugger’s first shift in a warehouse for an evil online store with a innovative approach to income tax, a show called Amazon Stories, which I just made up).
And that’s just a hint at the service’s original programming. There’ll also be a show called Little Voice, created by nerd-mensch JJ Abrams and singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, which promises to be “a funny, romantic show” about someone who finds their voice through music; two documentaries from Oprah – one on workplace harassment and one on mental health; an anthology series “inspired by immigrants in the US”, entitled Little America; and – holy shit – a new thing from Sesame Street, though in much less exciting news it’ll be about coding. Ah, well!
Yet one of the many, many men wearing grey who waltzed up and down at the Steve Jobs Theater during the launch also claimed: “We’ve partnered with the most accomplished storytellers as well as a new generation of the most exciting voices who together will established Apple TV Plus as the destination for the highest-quality originals.” Ah, man, I love originals, me. I’m always saying it. Originals this, originals that. Originals! Originals!
What will make Apple TV Plus different to Netflix and Amazon Prime?
Two words: Tim Cook. The Apple CEO has previously listed six key values that he will champion through his tenure as head honcho of the company: accessibility, education, environment, inclusion and diversity, privacy and supplier responsibility. During his ‘keynote’ speech, he insisted that tell is “more than just entertainment, it’s culture”. Well, la di-di-dah! As he will ultimately be overseeing Apple’s televisual output, you can bet this will be an alternative to Netflix’s algorithm-led true-crime trash-fest. Sounds well-intentioned but… you know… boring.
What does Apple want you to say about its telly streaming service?
The word that came time and again during the keynote speech: privacy. Apple, perhaps sensing the tide is turning against unscrupulous media giants, emphasised time and again that your privacy is protected when you’re using Apple TV Plus. A sad state of affairs when this isn’t expected as standard, but here we are. “Apple Arcade games cannot track any data about you, not track any information about how you play their games without your consent,” we were told. Well, yeah, I’d hope not. This is less important when it comes to Apple TV Plus, given that Netflix isn’t renowned for selling on information about your Queer Eye addiction, but still an indication of how touchy feely the service may be.
How do you watch Apple TV Plus?
The service will be built into the existing Apple TV framework ON smart TVs, MacOS and iOS., where, confusingly, you can also watch Apple TV as a separate entity and pay for extra individual channels such as HBO and Showtime. Another man in grey, this one unusually inept at public speaking, wedged in the line-up between a succession of polished performers, stumbled through all Apple TV’s offering. “We’re even bringing the Apple TV app,” he stammered, aware that his superiors would take a juicy bite from him backstage after his lacklustre performance, “to Roku and Amazon”.
When will it launch?
“Autumn” this year. No, they weren’t more specific. So weird that Apple, a company that got rid of the earphone jack from their phones for no good reason at all, would operate on their own whims.
How much will Apple TV plus cost?
Well, what an excellent question. What an absolutely crucial piece of information that must have featured very prominently in Apple’s big unveiling. Psych! They didn’t mention it once.
So, do we reckon Apple TV Plus will be any good, or what?
You may well think that the level of talent attached to the project will guarantee its quality. My friend, you have never seen Suicide Squad. Still: Oprah! Spielberg! Aquaman! You cannot argue with these names! Except maybe Aquaman! We also know that it won’t become the televisual equivalent of Murder Most Foul magazine, and will instead be more like a high-end BBC, highfalutin’ ideas of education and all. Yet Apple has a habit of arriving unfashionably late to the party (hello, Apple Music) and consumers’ loyalty to Netflix and Amazon may prove hard to shake.