Apple has a number of fingers in televisual pies; there is, of course, the Apple TV set-top box, its iTunes library as well as possible long-term ambitions to produce original content.
Apple recently took the next step in its TV plans, by announcing the upcoming release of a new TV app for Apple TV, iPhone and iPad.
The idea is the app will provide a “unified experience for discovering and accessing TV shows and movies from multiple apps.” Much like the Apple TV’s Universal Search, which allows users to search for content and receive results from across a number of services, rather than having to use apps individually, the new app will take a more curated approach to help viewers find new shows and movies to watch.
Based on initial images released by Apple, it’s not dissimilar to how Apple presents its iTunes video pages, or even how Netflix shows what’s trending, or offers up suggestions based on your viewing history. The difference here is that the app won’t just display content from one service. The app will also remember where users left off and can easily resume video across services and devices.
“The TV app shows you what to watch next and easily discover TV shows and movies from many apps in a single place,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services.
Apple hasn’t yet revealed much about which services will be involved, but it looks as though premium providers like Starz and Hulu are plugging into the app. However, conspicuous by its absence is Netflix, which is currently “evaluating the opportunity.”
Here’s some of the key features:
Watch now A section of the app that shows users all available videos across subscribed services and iTunes.
Up Next The app will provide a list of items to watch next across services, with the intention of ordering the list based on what the app believes the viewer is most likely to watch next – i.e. if the user is watching a TV show, the app will automatically add the next episode to Up Next. Users can also ask Siri to continue watching a show.
Recommended There will also be curated selections of trending shows and movies, as well as collections by genre.
Library A section of the app where users can access TV shows and movies they’ve rented or bought from iTunes.
Store And, of course, quick access to Apple’s iTunes Store to rent or download new content.
The app itself won’t arrive until December (which could boost some of those Apple TV holiday purchases) and will be part of a software update across Apple TV, iPhone & iPad. We may gain further details as Apple starts releasing new developer and public iOS betas
Anything else? Apple has also added Live Tune-In to Siri. Unlike the app, it’s available now without a software update and allows users to tune in to live news and sporting events. According to Apple, Siri now knows its sporting schedules so that if a user was to ask for a specific game, or simply “which games are on right now?” Siri can provide live scores and take viewers directly to a live stream. As for news, viewers can simple say “Watch CBS News” and Siri will open it up.
The apps are available across iOS so users can use it on their devices, but by the looks of things, the Apple TV is where it will feel most at home. Don’t have an Apple TV yet? They’re available direct from Apple.com.