There are tons of must-have streaming services, so deciding which ones are worth your money and which ones you should skip can be tricky. Plus, given the recent news about HBO Max — not to mention all of those failed streaming services — you want to ensure you’re investing in a good product, right?
That’s where SPY comes in. We dove deep into Apple TV+ to rate and review the service. When we’re reviewing a streaming service, we evaluate it based on the most important components of any good media streaming platform:
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Quality of Content
Overall Customer Experience/ User Interface
Discovery Features/ Search
We’ve evaluated whether Apple TV+ is worth it and rated it out of five for each category, with some explanations, praise, complaints, gripes and feedback for good measure.
Apple TV+ Review: At a Glance
Cheap compared to other streamers
Popular shows like Severance
7-day free trial
Video-on-demand rentals and purchases
Small library compared to HBO Max and Netflix
Free Trial Period: 7-Days
Looking for the bottom line? Apple TV+ is a growing streaming service with a decent price tag and an impressive library for adults and kids alike. Considering the plans for the streaming service, we think Apple TV+ is worth it — it’s also positioning itself as one of the must-have players in the ever-growing streaming service space.
Quality of Content: 3/5
If there’s one complaint about Apple TV+, all of the “free” content is limited to the service’s original fare. The available shows and movies are great (more on that below), but there is no back catalog of existing shows and movies to draw from. There are acquisition programs and films available for a fee, however. It’s also easy for Apple TV+ users to rent or purchase a project with just a few clicks.
If you like sports, the channel did begin experimenting with MLB games earlier this year, to mixed results. While baseball fans likely welcome the free streams, many users have reported technical glitches and lag times. These games are free as part of the service, but once those issues are fixed, we can see Apple TV+ making these games premium, add-on content.
Speaking of add-ons, you can add channels to your Apple TV+ subscription (kind of like Prime Video Channels) and combine Apple TV+ with other entities like Paramount+ or AMC+ for a more personalized viewing experience. But if you want to compare Apple TV+ with something like Netflix or HBO Max (both of which have robust libraries of content to choose from), Apple is the low-hanging fruit.
Original Content: 5/5
Here is where the streaming service truly shines: its original content. Since the platform launched in 2019, Apple TV+ has focused on quality over quantity. Honestly, that’s a refreshing take during this extended period of content overload. As a result, the service has given us a ton of Emmy-nominated series like Ted Lasso, Severance and The Morning Show.
There are also many critically acclaimed series to dig into, such as the alternative history telling For All Mankind, quirky musical comedy Schmigadoon!, the generational drama Pachinko and the animated laugh Central Park.
If you miss appointment viewing, Apple TV+ has you covered there, too. The service occasionally drops several episodes of a season at once, but the typical model is one new episode weekly per season. Some may be used to binging and will complain about the wait, but to us, that building excitement to see what happens next is part of the old TV experience we truly miss.
In terms of movies, Apple TV+ has begun premiering several must-see stories like last year’s Oscar-winning CODA or the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award-winner Cha Cha Real Smooth. Again it seems as though the streamer is going for quality over quantity here, selecting movies for the service that deliver impactful stories from unique voices that you may have difficulty finding elsewhere.
We should also touch on the non-fiction programming (there is a ton), as Apple TV+ is home to things like the breathtaking Prehistoric Planet, the Magic Johnson doc They Call Me Magic, and the biographical series featuring game-changing pop culture icons, Dear…. The service also brought Jon Stewart back with The Problem with Jon Stewart and features the former Queen of Daytime in The Oprah Conversation.
Last but not least, we’re fans of the ever-growing kids and family section on Apple TV+. In addition to reviving the Peanuts gang and the Fraggle Rock crew, the streaming service is also home to the must-see tween series Amber Brown, the new Ghost Writer and Harriet the Spy series, and it recently unleashed the critically acclaimed movie Luck about the unluckiest girl in the world who seeks to change her fortunes after a random encounter with a black cat.
Overall Customer Experience/ User Interface: 3/5
Apple TV+ is intuitive and easy to navigate, with large icons and buttons to help you quickly pick up your last series or find a new one to binge. We like how when you click on a show page, you can scroll down and see all available episodes, with clear descriptions of the content itself and buttons to show age ratings and what kind of viewing options (HDR, CC, Dolby, etc.) are available. We also like that you can skip the previews that automatically play at the beginning of episodes and films to have a totally ad-free experience.
However, Apple TV+ loses major points for us in the “Up Next” section. While you can technically pick up where you left off in your favorite show, we found that it often (but not always) began the episode from the beginning rather than holding our place. We also don’t love how if you click on the show you want to watch from that section, there’s no easy way to go back to the previous episode to catch up or refresh yourself on a part you may have missed. To do that, you need to return to the show page itself.
Another minor gripe is in the selection process. Apple TV+ isn’t shy about recommending shows and movies to watch. The problem is the paid content is mixed in with the free content. To avoid unnecessarily clicking on something of interest only to be disappointed by having to pay more to watch, you have to look for the little Apple TV+ icon in the bottom right corner of the photo. In many scrolling sections, that is the only way to know whether it’s included in your subscription.
Video Playback: 4/5
The overall quality of streaming on Apple TV+ is pretty great. We had no problems watching content online, and we also found it to be a pleasant experience downloading programs to watch offline while commuting. (Although downloading at times was an exercise in patience.)
We didn’t experience any crashing while watching MLB, although it’s worth pointing out that many viewers have in the past.
Discovery Features and Search: 3/5
As mentioned, there are many ways to discover new content on Apple TV+, from the comprehensive home screen and recommended shows section to the previews that play before episodes. Again, we don’t love how hard it is to tell a paid product from an Apple TV+ original without having to click through, but we will give the service bonus points for its dedicated “Coming Soon to Apple TV+” section.
You cannot beat the price of Apple TV+. It’s the lowest-priced streaming service, which makes it worth the investment. For five bucks a month (or $50 for the year), it’s cheaper than two nights out at the movies. It also comes with a seven-day free trial, or if you recently purchased an Apple product, you probably received a three- or six-month free trial with your new device.
Sure, that only gives you access to the Apple TV+ originals, not a significant library of content. Still, with more than 60 original shows and 30 original films now available to stream (plus many more projects coming in the future), the service is more than worth the cups of coffee you may have to sacrifice to get it.
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