Apple's TV streaming service goes live – here's what you need to know
Apple's new video subscription service, Apple TV+, launched today with a range of original films, documentaries and TV shows for a £4.99/month or £49.99/year fee.
Viewers will be able to access the subscription service via the Apple TV app on their iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch, certain Samsung smart TVs, Roku, Amazon Fire TV devices and on their computers by logging on to tv.apple.com.
Apple TV+ will offer original programmes, including The Morning Show, a drama starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell. Some of the first episodes of these shows are available within the Apple TV app, without signing up to the Apple TV+ subscription service.
The Apple TV app itself also gives you access to watch shows available on BBC iPlayer, All4 and ITV Hub for no extra cost.
Separately, within the Apple TV app you can buy and rent films and TV programmes that aren't part of the Apple TV+ service. These films and TV shows were previously available to purchase from the iTunes app. In June, Apple split its iTunes service into three apps – Apple TV, Podcasts and Music.
See how Apple TV+ compares to other streaming services below.
How to get Apple TV+
If you're curious to see what's on offer, you can get a seven-day free trial, though you'll need an Apple ID. If you already own an Apple product, you should already have an ID. If not, you can set one up when signing up for the streaming service.
The payment card details you have stored in your Apple ID account can be used to pay the subscription fee. Alternatively, you can use iTunes gift cards to pay for your subscription.
Beware that after the trial ends, Apple will automatically start charging you the £4.99/mth subscription fee, unless you cancel. You can cancel the subscription in the Settings section of your Apple account, at least a day before the renewal date.
If you prefer to pay for the year upfront, you can select to pay £49.99 by going to Settings and then Subscriptions in the Apple TV app.
You can share your Apple TV+ subscription with up to six members of your family – see Apple Family Sharing for more information. You can also watch Apple TV+ videos offline by downloading them from within the Apple TV app.
Bought an Apple product? You may be able to get Apple TV+ free for a year
Apple has said that customers who have bought a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod Touch since 10 September from it, or one of its authorised resellers, can get one year of Apple TV+ free for a year.
If you cancel during your free year, you and your family members will lose access to Apple TV+ for the remainder of the one-year free trial.
Apple will be going head to head with the likes of Amazon Prime, Netflix and Now TV. To give you an idea of what the best option is for you, there's a clever free online tool, JustWatch, which catalogues what shows and films are shown on different streaming services. Here's how Apple TV+ compares with other streaming services on cost:
- Amazon Prime Video costs £5.99/month for the basic package, though only content labelled 'Prime' is included. For everything else, you'll need to rent out the episode (from £1.89) or series (from £3.99) separately. Alternatively, you can pay £79/year or £7.99/mth for Amazon Prime (£39/yr for students), which gives Prime Video plus one-day delivery on eligible items.
New customers who sign up online can get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime Video. Just cancel over the phone before the 30 days is up if you don't want to continue – otherwise you'll be charged £5.99/mth. This offer is ongoing.
- Netflix costs £5.99/mth for its 'Basic' option. That gets you the basic package, which allows you to watch Netflix on one device, but not in HD. 'Standard' (£8.99/mth) enables HD streaming, and also allows you to watch on two devices at the same time. 'Premium' (£11.99/mth) allows ultra-HD streaming and covers four devices.
New customers who sign up online can get a free 30-day trial of Netflix. Just cancel online before the 30 days is up if you don't want to continue – otherwise you'll be charged.
- Now TV offers a range of TV passes. There are five streaming packages available on a rolling monthly basis: Entertainment (£8.99/mth – includes a seven-day free trial), Sky Cinema (£11.99/mth), Sky Sports (£33.99/mth or £5.99/mth for smartphone-only access), Kids (£3.99/mth with a seven-day free trial) and Hayu (£3.99/mth with a seven-day free trial), where viewers can stream reality TV shows.