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Posts tagged with "Apple TV Plus"

tvOS 17: The MacStories Review

Apple TV may have received its most surprising update release this year, and I’d argue that tvOS 17 is also Apple’s most impactful. With the launch of Apple TV+ and the expansion of Apple’s TV app to third-party devices, Apple TV the platform had gone through a bit of a confidence crisis. It was hard enough before to get developers and the wider Apple community to talk about its software, but now it had to compete for attention with the likes of Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Ted Lasso.1

Attention then moved onto Apple’s next big platform reveal, a project so steeped in secrecy and excitement that when a tvOS engineering manager made a brief public change to their social media profile indicating they had moved on to work for the company’s AR/VR division, I began to wonder if Apple TV and tvOS would ever get their special moment to shine. That special moment would come exactly nineteen minutes before the debut of Apple Vision Pro, and while it may have been a fleeting moment quickly forgotten by the majority, it’s a moment in Apple TV’s story I’ve been thinking about ever since.

The introduction of FaceTime on Apple TV was more than just a feature announcement. It also represented a realignment in what mattered most for the platform and Apple’s customers and a shift away from a focus previously reserved for the needs of the wider entertainment industry.

FaceTime and Continuity Camera may be the headline acts in this year’s tvOS update, but they’re also supported by a cast of big changes elsewhere. They include a newly redesigned Control Center – Apple’s latest triumph in intuitive interaction – automatic profile switching, Find Siri Remote, third-party VPN support, Shared Spatial Audio, updates to Fitness and Music, enhancements to both audio and video presentations, and a small but meaningful update to the tvOS Home Screen.

After using tvOS 17 over the summer, I’m happy to impart that the new features are all positive additions, even though there remains work to be done. So, without further ado, in a MacStories return to tvOS reviews, let’s dive into tvOS 17.

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  1. Played by the incomparable Jason Sudeikis. ↩︎

Apple TV+’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse Wins Oscar

Last night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced at the 95th Annual Academy Awards ceremony that it had picked The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse for Best Animated Short Film.

The Apple TV+ film, which also recently won a BAFTA Film Award and four Annie Awards, is based on a book by Charlie Mackesy. According to Apple’s press release:

The poignant journey follows the unlikely friendship of a boy, a mole, a fox, and a horse traveling together in the boy’s search for home. The film, featuring Mackesy’s distinctive illustrations brought to life in full color with beautiful hand-drawn animation, stars Tom Hollander as The Mole, Idris Elba as The Fox, Gabriel Byrne as The Horse, and newcomer Jude Coward Nicoll as The Boy.

Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video, commented on the Oscar win:

We are so proud of Charlie and the brilliant team who brought The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse to the screen and we sincerely thank the Academy for tonight’s recognition. This powerful story has deeply affected audiences around the world and has shown that no matter what age you are or where you live, it’s never too late to spread more compassion, empathy, and kindness in our daily lives. Congratulations to everyone involved, including our teams across the globe. We are all celebrating with you tonight.

Last year, Apple TV+ was the first streaming service to ever win the Best Picture Oscar for CODA.

Apple TV+’s CODA Wins Best Picture at the Oscars

Last night was a big night at the Oscars for Apple. In just the second year that Apple TV+ has been eligible for an Oscar, the streaming service’s film CODA won the award for Best Picture. CODA was also honored with the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and CODA star Troy Kotsur was named Best Supporting Actor.

Apple acquired the streaming rights to CODA at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2021 and debuted it on TV+ last August. Going into the ceremonies last night, CODA was up against other strong contenders, including The Power of the Dog, a Netflix film that won critical acclaim. But ultimately, it was CODA, a feel-good family drama, that took home Apple’s first-ever Oscar and the first Best Picture award from any streaming service.

CODA is also notable for its predominantly Deaf cast, which includes Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin. Kotsur took home the Best Supporting Actor award for his role, which was a first for a Deaf male actor. Matlin previously won an Oscar for her role in Children of a Lesser God.

Apple’s head of Worldwide Video Zack Van Amburg had this to say about the awards:

On behalf of everyone at Apple, we are so grateful to the Academy for the honors bestowed on ‘CODA’ this evening. We join our teams all over the world in celebrating Siân, Troy, the producers, and the entire cast and crew for bringing such a powerful representation of the Deaf community to audiences, and breaking so many barriers in the process. It has been so rewarding to share this life-affirming, vibrant story, which reminds us of the power of film to bring the world together.

If you haven’t seen CODA yet, it’s available to stream on Apple TV+.

Jason Snell on the Implications of Apple’s Major League Baseball Deal

If you came away from yesterday’s Apple event with the impression that TV+ will be airing two Major League Baseball games every Friday, you wouldn’t be wrong. However, there’s a lot more to the story than meets the eye, as Jason Snell explains at Six Colors.

In addition to a two-games per week exclusive, TV+ will be adding a show called MLB Big Inning, which Apple says will feature “highlights and look-ins.” As Jason explains:

If you’re familiar with the NFL Red Zone product, in which a studio host zips the viewer around to different live games when interesting things are happening, it’s a little like that—but for baseball.

TV+ will also offer what’s known as linear programming, airing a 24/7 feed of “MLB game replays, news and analysis, highlights, classic games, and more.” The difference with linear programming is that instead of streaming individual shows on-demand, a steady stream of MLB content will be available allowing viewers to drop in and watch whatever happens to be playing.

This is not unprecedented for Apple. In 2020, the company debuted Apple Music TV, a TV+ channel that streams music videos 24/7. Like the music videos before it, 24/7 baseball content will help fill the gaps in TV+’s lineup for those times when subscribers don’t feel like picking something specific to watch.

The big picture implications of Apple’s deal with MLB provide an insight into where televised sports is heading. In the case of baseball, Jason says:

Right now, baseball is propped up by revenue from regional sports networks (RSNs) that have paid enormous amounts of money to sequester their product on cable so that it’s impossible for fans to cut the cord. The problem is, fans are like everyone else, and they are cutting the cord. At some point, the guaranteed revenue from RSNs will collapse, and leagues that rely on that revenue will be in deep trouble.

This isn’t the sort of transition that will happen overnight, but given the rise of streaming services, which has accelerated in recent years, I expect we’ll see even more deals like the one struck by Apple and MLB in the future.


Apple Recaps Its 2021 Services

In a press release today, Apple shared an update on the success of its services. According to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Services:

Apple’s world-class portfolio of services proved essential in 2021, as people worldwide sought new ways to keep entertained, informed, connected, and inspired. With over 745 million paid subscriptions, Apple continues to connect the world’s developers, artists, and storytellers with users across more than a billion devices, delivering powerful tools, content, and experiences that enrich their lives in profound ways every day.

Apple says that developers have earned more than $260 billion on the apps and games sold through the App Store since its inception in 2008. That’s a $60 billion increase since last year’s services announcement. The company also reports that 2021 was another record year for sales, and the Christmas to New Years Day period saw double-digit sales growth. However, unlike past years, sales numbers weren’t shared for the week between Christmas and New Years Day or for New Years Day.

Apple has created lists of 2021’s most downloaded apps and games, if you are curious about which apps resonated with the most users last year.

Apple’s press release recaps a long list of achievements of its other services, too, recapping the highlights of 2021, including the nominations and awards won by Apple TV+, the expansion of Apple Pay, and the recent additions to Fitness+. Having followed this annual services press release since its earliest days, what’s most impressive is how long the list of services has grown. What was once primarily an App Store and Apple Music recap now covers a much broader range of services.

Kotaku Collects the Beautiful Artwork of Apple TV+’s Foundation

Source: Kotaku.

Source: Kotaku.

The Apple TV+ show Foundation has been on my mind a lot this week. I’ve really enjoyed the first season so far, and yesterday, we hosted a live audio discussion in the Club MacStories+ Discord community, where we were joined by a few Club members to dig into the show’s first seven episodes. The discussion was part of AV Club, a channel in our Discord community where we pick media to enjoy as a group each month. It was a lively and fun discussion that is available to Club members as a podcast too.

As I was collecting my thoughts on Foundation in preparation for our group conversation, one of the aspects of the show that I kept coming back to was its visuals. It’s a sci-fi epic that doesn’t look like any sci-fi show I’ve watched before. From the elegance of Trantor’s surface, which is home to Empire, to the gritty reality of the planet’s subterranean levels, the inhospitable environment of Terminus, and the watery Synnax, every planet has a unique and authentic feel of its own that creates an immersive experience for viewers.

If you haven’t watched the show before or are a fan already and interested in learning more about Foundation’s unique style, I highly recommend browsing through the gallery of concept art for the show that is collected on Kotaku in a story by Luke Plunkett. The gallery of dozens of images includes costume design, landscapes, spaceships, weaponry, and more. Foundation is a big budget production that has more in common with the scale I’m used to seeing in movies. What the artwork spotlighted by Plunkett shows is that beyond the mountain of money spent on Foundation, an extraordinary amount of care has been taken by a group of incredibly talented artists to bring the story to life.


‘For All Mankind’ Companion Podcast Launching Friday from Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is launching its first podcast that will serve as a companion to the show ‘For All Mankind,’ the Apple Original series that imagines a world where the Soviet Union was first to land on the Moon. Trailers for the podcast, which is hosted by cast member Krys Marshall, are available on Apple Podcasts and YouTube. The first full episode will be published Friday, February 19th at 9:00 am US Pacific time, which is also when the first episode of season two of For All Mankind will be available.

For All Mankind: The Official Podcast’ is being produced in partnership with AT WILL MEDIA, a Manhattan and Los Angeles-based media production company that has produced shows like The Choice for The New York Times. New episodes of the TV show will debut at 9:00 am US Pacific time each Thursday, with new episodes of the 10-episode podcast coming out every other week on Fridays at the same time.

Podcast host Krys Marshall, who plays Commander Danielle Poole on For All Mankind, will be joined by space experts, former astronauts, and people involved in creating the TV show, providing a mix of science and behind-the-scenes details about the show. The show is available in the Apple Podcasts app as well as third-party podcast players via RSS.

You can listen to the trailer for ‘For All Mankind: The Official Podcast’ below:

Apple Celebrates Black History Month with Features Across Its Products

February is Black History Month, and Apple has announced a long list of ways it is celebrating across its products and services. In a press release the company said:

Apple is bringing customers a variety of new and updated collections and exclusive content that highlight and amplify Black creators, artists, developers, and businesses. From curated features across the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple TV app, Apple Books, and Apple Podcasts, to new Apple Maps Guides, the Apple Watch Black Unity Collection, Today at Apple sessions, and more, here is a look at what is in store across Apple’s products and services this February.

In the App Store, Apple is featuring stories with Black developers and highlighting social justice apps along with entertainment and gaming apps. The month-long feature extends to other services too:

  • Music will feature Black musicians and include related content like playlists, essays, videos, and custom artwork
  • Maps Guides, which has seen many updates recently, will feature Black-owned businesses in collaboration with EatOkra
  • The Apple TV App will include ‘Essential: Stories That Honor Black Families,’ plus two free episodes of The Oprah Conversation featuring ‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents’ by author Isabel Wilkerson
  • Apple News will have curated topic groups and Apple Books will showcase a collection of relevant books and audiobooks
  • The Podcasts app will highlight Black voices including Michelle Obama, Joe Budden, Phoebe Robinson, and Baratunde Thurston, plus an extended promotion of shows featuring relevant topics
  • Fitness+ will spotlight songs from Black artists, and the first Time to Walk episode for February will feature author Ibram X. Kendi who will discuss racial justice and resiliency
  • Today at Apple will feature virtual sessions and tutorials moderated by Kimberly Drew with Black artists including typographer Tré Seals, creative director, filmmaker, and photographer Joshua Kissi, and visual artist, photographer, and educator Shan Wallace
  • Shot on iPhone will feature 30 Black photographers
Apple's Black Unity Collection limited-edition Watch, Sports Band, and watch face.

Apple’s Black Unity Collection limited-edition Watch, Sports Band, and watch face.

On the product side, Apple has introduced the Black Unity Collection that includes a limited-edition Apple Watch 6, a Black Unity Sport Band, and a Unity watch face. Apple is also supporting six groups dedicated to promoting and achieving equality and civil rights in the US and around the world. The Watch and Sports Band will be available beginning February 1st and the watch face will debut with watchOS 7.3, which Apple says will be out later today.

The Black Unity Sports Band and Unity watch face, which changes dynamically as the Watch moves, include the green, red, and black colors of the Pan-African flag, and the Sports Band has ‘Truth. Power. Solidarity’ laser etched on the inside of the band’s fastening pin. Similarly, the limited-edition Watch has ‘Black Unity’ etched in the Watch’s crystal back. Apple will also kick off a special month-long Unity Activity Challenge on February 1st that is achieved by closing Move ring at least seven days in a row.