For once, Apple is keeping its greed in check and I like it!
Right off the bat, Apple TV+ is free for a year to anyone who might have bought a new Apple TV, MacBook, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch after September 10, 2019; so there’s more reason to upgrade to iPhone 11 generation. Or so, Apple hopes at least. But even without the freeloader syndrome, Apple TV+ is probably the cheapest in India than anywhere else in the world at a mere ₹99/month as opposed to the $4.99/month in the US, which roughly translates to almost ₹350. You can even share this ₹99/month plan with five other members of the Family Sharing Plan if you’re set up for it! It’s a stupendous value but Apple isn’t exactly sleeping behind the cash registers.
What’s different between Apple TV+ and the others?
The line-up of original shows is a bit thin at launch, with eight titles and limited episodes, but Apple is also claiming the service to be the first streaming platform with ALL original content. That also helps it differentiate itself from established giants in the streaming space, and to catch up, Apple is focusing on big-name talent and big-budget productions. A claimed $15m have been spent on each episode of the star-studded The Morning Show, which takes a look at the politics, power play and the implications of the #MeToo movement in the cutthroat world of morning news TV. Names like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan are waiting in the wings for their moment on Apple TV+.
What about the streaming quality?
If you’ve been holding off a 4K TV or a Dolby Atmos home-theatre system purchase, now is the golden age! While Netflix’s catalogue is rich and growing and Prime Video offering some good options in HDR, one look at See or The Morning Show on Apple TV+ confirms that the special sauce here is in the delivery of both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. The video has genuine depth in blacks, especially in Ep03 of The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston’s red dress popping against a dimly-lit conference and black background while she’s putting the television network’s CEO in his place. There is zero noise in the picture and on a calibrated screen, the HDR will open up a whole new world of visual cues that you would otherwise miss out on. Apple won’t reveal technical details of its streaming data but the compression ratio seems visibly better managed than even Netflix — and that’s saying a lot! The same holds true for the sound and if you have a proper Dolby Atmos set-up (we’re not looking at you, Atmos soundbars), the layered mix and dynamic sound will drench you in an atmosphere and detail that you just don’t hear from the height or surround channels on other platforms. Bass is controlled yet extended, almost sounding like it’s playing off an optical disc, and the whole experience just makes even the vanity of the show eminently watchable. See provides the necessary canvas for the sound designers and mixing engineers to create a world that relies on heightened hearing, and the resultant experience via an Apple TV 4K box is comparable to a high-end UHD-player based home-theatre system. It’s a joy and relief to know that the inevitable death of optical disc may not be such a bad thing after all!
Enough said. What about my money?
Is that enough reason to buy into the world of Apple TV+ though? With the subscription offers and free one-week trial even for older Apple device owners, it’s a no-brainer to try at least. Factor in the existing database of a gazillion users that Apple already has and it’s bound to be a runaway success without trying too hard. It’s not a patch on Netflix, Prime Video or even Hotstar when it comes to programming choices, but the special ingredient here is quality. And if you want to max out your hi-fi/home-theatre system with the best possible sound and picture without a 4K UHD player, there is nothing that comes close. Add Apple’s decision to make the TV+ app available on Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire Stick and compatible with AirPlay 2 and you don’t even need to own an Apple device to reap the benefits of the trial period. Of course, if you do, Apple ensures that the colour palette looks perfectly matched across all your devices, be it an iPhone or Mac.
OK. Should I jump into it now?
We’d certainly like to see more content quickly but the low price of admission means currently there aren’t any compelling reasons to complain. But, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by watching Apple TV+ without a 4K TV or a Dolby Atmos system… start saving for that while you enjoy your free one-year subscription!