As part of IGN’s State of Streaming event, we’re taking a fresh look at the major streaming services and what they offer subscribers in 2022. You can check out our initial thoughts on Apple TV+ as of 2019, and see what’s changed (for better or worse) in this updated review.
When Apple TV+ kicked off in November of 2019, it was well after Netflix had cornered the market and almost head to head with the launch of Disney+. While it isn’t the most recent major player to join the streaming wars (that goes to HBO Max in May of 2020), Apple TV+ has struggled to gain traction. But it seems like it’s only a matter of time before it takes off, because it’s currently one of the best streaming services available in terms of consistent quality and affordability.
Apple TV+ TV Shows and Movies
While you won’t find the same deluge of content that you will on Prime Video or Netflix, Apple TV+ has focused its strategy on quality over quantity. Whether you subscribe or not, you’re probably well aware of its critically acclaimed crown jewels Ted Lasso and Severance, maybe some of its more niche shows like For All Mankind and See, as well as Oscar Best Picture winner CODA.
Apple TV+ is still lacking in its 'event watch' series, a la HBO’s House of the Dragon, Prime Video’s Rings of Power
When we first reviewed it in 2019, we noted its relatively small library as a detriment. However, quite a bit has changed since then. While it’s still at the back of the pack when it comes to the sheer number of shows and movies in its arsenal, no one is putting out consistently exceptional programming quite like Apple TV+. No show is for everyone, but it’s pretty difficult to look at anything on here and call it bad or poorly made.
That said, Apple TV+ is still lacking in its “event watch” series, a la HBO’s House of the Dragon, Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, or Netflix’s Stranger Things, but the overall quality of its originals means that the service doesn’t really need such a series to attract more discerning viewers. That said, Severance was starting to pick up that kind of watercooler buzz by the time its Season 1 finale hit, and Apple is definitely continuing to chase a must-watch hit with its upcoming Monarch series set in the Godzilla vs. Kong universe.
Apple TV+ User Interface
Evaluating the user interface for Apple TV+ is kind of tricky in the sense that it remains exactly the same regardless of what device you’re viewing it on. Like most Apple software, you’re going to have the best experience if you’re navigating on a touchscreen like a tablet, phone, or even a laptop to swipe and scroll around. When it comes to the interface on smart TV apps, that usability becomes a strong “your mileage may vary” situation.
If you use Apple TV (like, the little box or the full hardware), you’ll be able to navigate the platform with ease. If you’re using an app on your television and aren’t familiar with Apple’s interfaces, that user experience may be less pleasant. While you’ll still have an easy enough time navigating (provided you’re not using one of Apple TV’s abysmal mini remotes), you’ll need to go through a couple of extra clicks to get to Apple TV+ programming, as it’s not the first tab available when you open the app. Apple TV+ search function leaves something to be desired as well, as you can only search through all of Apple’s available content (streaming, for purchase, etc.) or manually scroll through Apple TV+ rather than just browsing what is available to stream.
Some balk at the fact that Apple TV+ only offers one subscription package, but it simply doesn’t need the tiered structure that most of its competitors use. Base subscriptions of Apple TV+ already include 4K streaming (some titles excluded) and up to six additional profiles that can stream simultaneously. Just remember that you’ll need a 4K television in order to enjoy the shows and movies in that format.
The Apple TV+ Price
You can score Apple TV+ for a crazy-low $4.99 a month, which puts it at the lowest cost of any major streaming service. So while you might not get as much content as you do with Netflix or HBO Max, the price reflects that difference. And you may not even have to pay that much, since Apple also frequently gives discounts and around three free months of subscription time when you buy an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. In fact, right now you don’t even have to buy anything to get that deal – just go to Best Buy’s website and grab three months for free.
Likewise, if you’re a T-Mobile subscriber, a year of Apple TV+ is included in select cell phone plans. And, if you’re a student, you can get Apple TV+ for free for an unspecified amount of time.
Though Apple TV+ continues to offer a significantly slimmer catalog of movies and shows than its competitors, it has proven that its approach of outshining them in quality rather than focusing on lumping in everything under the sun is a valid one, and its subscription price remains a fraction of what its biggest competitors charge. Its interface can have a slight learning curve if you’re browsing on anything other than a touchscreen or Apple’s hardware, but it’s not too much of a hassle – and you just can’t beat the quality-to-price ratio you’ll find here.