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 2023.
As with fellow tech giant Amazon, Apple isn’t exclusively in the streaming business. That means Apple TV+ is free to take huge creative swings and focus on a more limited and carefully chosen slate of projects. It’s a smart gambit that, combined with a lower price, makes Apple TV+ an interesting prospect.
Apple TV+’s TV Shows and Movies
To really dig into the most important part of any streaming service we’re going to be breaking this section down into four segments. First we’ll be looking at the original programming each platform has to offer, then we’re delving into their back catalog, next up will be anything that really stands out and makes the streamer unique, then finally it’ll be any glaring omissions.
Originals: A massive investment in originals covering all genres is the entirety of the Apple TV+ business model. Apple’s programming is of a higher quality than a lot of streaming originals, whether it’s the epic scope of the sci-fi series Foundation, the genre-bending strangeness of Severance, or the beloved comedy of Ted Lasso. That’s just scratching the surface of their original TV programming, which also features ridiculously watchable shows like The Morning Show and Hijack and the joyful murder mystery of The Afterparty.
While Apple’s film offerings aren’t always as solid, there are some standouts – like the action-espionage take on the origin of the world’s biggest video game, Tetris – as well as having a great selection of animation including the license for new Snoopy series and the Oscar-nominated Wolfwalkers. The platform also offers live MLB games, making it one of the cheaper streaming options for live sports.
Back catalog: This is AppleTV+’s biggest weakness: With the exception of the original Fraggle Rock and vintage Peanuts specials, its back catalog is entirely Apple Originals. So if you enjoy The Changeling or Invasion, then great, there’s a solid selection here. But if you’re looking for a standalone streamer that will entertain you for more than a few months, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
Standout: Seeing as AppleTV+ has a limited catalog, and we’ve already highlighted the originals in general, we’re breaking the form here: If there’s one thing that’s worth the monthly subscription, it’s Cartoon Salon’s infinitely rewatchable Wolfwalkers. $6.99 isn’t so much to ask for unlimited viewings of one of the best animated films in recent years (plus all the big-ticket TV shows to discover between spells of charmingly rendered Irish folklore).
Glaring omissions: You won’t find extensive catalogs of blockbuster movies or a clutch of TV shows you loved in the past – instead it’s a curated platform of Apple creations. If you’re committing to AppleTV+ through one of the company’s frequent free trial offers or because there’s a show that you really want to watch, you may find its library somewhat lacking – especially if you’re used to the sprawling menus of Netflix and Hulu.
Apple TV+’s User Interface
One benefit of that small catalog: The app runs relatively smoothly and rarely glitches. It’s easy to navigate, though if you don’t use AppleTV for buying and renting shows and movies, it can be a little confusing what’s actually on offer with your subscription.
When it comes to HD capabilities, AppleTV+ is one of the cheapest services to offer 4K video. The app automatically streams to the resolution that your device can support, which is great on Smart TVs but less useful if you’re watching through your browser – users have often complained about the service struggling to support even 1080p HD on their devices. Shows like Prehistoric Planet look especially stunning in full 4K, really showcasing the visual splendor that Apple TV+ series have to offer. The app also has extensive subtitling options that are some of the best in streaming, with a vast choice of languages for both subtitles and dubs.
Apple TV+’s Price
AppleTV+ has one tier, which is $6.99 a month and gives you ad-free access to every series and film on the platform. It’s one of the best ad-free deals that you can get at the moment, a fair price for a top-shelf library that will add depth to your subscription roster, but won’t take the place of anything you’re already signed up for. Another option for subscribers is to bundle AppleTV+ with one of Apple’s Apple One tiers, which adds the streamer to other services like iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, or Apple News+ depending on the tier.