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Posts tagged with "Apple TV Plus"

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.

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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.

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‘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.


Apple Recaps Its 2020 Services, Including the App Store’s Record-Breaking Holiday Season

In a press release today, Apple provided an update on its services. According to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services:

Now more than ever before, customers around the world have found inspiration and value in the breadth and quality of Apple’s services, which have impacted their lives in big and small ways every day. We’re incredibly optimistic about where we’re headed, and we believe that the opportunities for developers and the creative community are endless, as are the positive and meaningful benefits to our customers.

Among the highlights Apple shared are App Store revenue numbers for the 2020 holiday season, which were greater than 2019 for the same period and once again set an all-time record for single-day sales on New Year’s Day:

The trend continued over the holiday season, with App Store customers spending $1.8 billion on digital goods and services over the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, driven largely by spending on games. Customers ushered in 2021 by setting a new single-day spending record of over $540 million on New Year’s Day.

Apple also noted that developers have earned more than $200 billion since the inception of the App Store in 2008 and that it kicked off the App Store Small Business Program at the end of 2020.

In addition to apps, Apple recapped its other services:

  • Apple Music, which added several new features in 2020 that Apple says have been used by more than 90% of iOS 14 users
  • The Apple TV App, which debuted on new smart TVs and videogame consoles in 2020 and is now available on over 1 billion screens in more than 100 countries
  • TV+, which gained a dedicated tab in the TV app and was nominated for 159 awards, receiving 45
  • Apple News, which added local news for certain cities, included special coverage of the pandemic, the racial justice movement, and the US election, and added audio to News+ in 2020
  • Fitness+, which debuted just before the New Year
  • Apple Pay, which Apple says is accepted by more than 90% of US stores, 85% of UK stores, and 99% of Australian stores
  • Apple Arcade, which now has more than 140 games with games that have received more than 50 award nominations
  • Apple Books, which has over 90 million monthly active users
  • Apple Podcasts, which is available in 175 countries and 100 languages
  • iCloud, 85% of whose users have enabled two-factor authentication

Every year I’m struck that the App Store continues to set holiday season records for sales. The success of the App Store has been nothing short of remarkable, but as Apple’s press release demonstrates, Apple’s current services story today extends far beyond apps.


Apple One Subscription Bundles Are Now Available

Today, Apple launched its previously-announced Apple One subscription bundles, which offer the following three combinations of services:

  • Individual – Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for $14.95
  • Family – Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of shared iCloud storage for $19.95 for up to six family members
  • Premier – Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Fitness+, Apple News+, and 2TB of shared iCloud storage for $29.95 for up to six family members

Compared to paying for each service separately, the Individual plan saves users $6, the Family plan saves $8, and the Premier plan has the greatest savings at $25 but is only available in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia because News+ is limited to those countries. Apple is also offering a 30-day free trial and 3% cash back if you use the Apple Card.

The Apple One bundle signup flow.

The Apple One bundle signup flow.

You can currently sign up for an Apple One bundle by going to the App Store on an iOS or iPadOS device and tapping your profile picture in the top right corner of the screen. Tap on your profile at the top of the next screen and then Subscriptions, where you should find a banner promoting Apple One.

Moving iCloud Storage from one Apple ID to the another.

Moving iCloud Storage from one Apple ID to the another.

If like me, you have separate Apple IDs for iCloud and media purchases, you will be asked to move your storage plan to the Apple ID you use for iCloud, which cancels the old iCloud Storage subscription.

Signing up for the Premier tier was a no-brainer as someone who already paid for 2TB of storage, a Family Apple Music subscription, and Apple Arcade. News+ isn’t something I was willing to pay for separately, but it’s nice to have, and I’m very interested in trying Fitness+ as the weather gets colder here in Chicago, making outdoor walks and runs more difficult.