Apple’s new TV app is a work in progress


Apple’s approach to digital video can best be described as slow and steady. While iTunes and the iPod effortlessly transformed the way we purchased and listened to music, it took the company years to figure out how to position the Apple TV. For the most part, films and TV were just additional categories in iTunes, which, as its name implies, was primarily focused on music. But now that Apple finally has a solid 4K set-top box, the next issue is helping people organize everything they have to watch.

That’s where the company’s new TV app comes in: It’ll let you keep track of the shows and movies you’re watching, highlight noteworthy content and give you an easy way to subscribe and watch premium content from networks like HBO and Showtime. In theory, it’s the sort of seamless experience we’ve come to expect from Apple. In practice, though, it’s clear that the company still has work to do.

On the face of it, the new TV app just looks like a redesign of the previous one, which debuted in 2016. It, too, attempted to keep track of what you were watching, but that was pretty much it. The new version adds a top menu, allowing you to easily jump into movies and TV shows available across iTunes and third-party apps, along with sports and kids programming. You can also quickly jump into your library or search from content from the menu. None of these are bold new features for Apple’s content ecosystem, but what’s key is that the new TV app makes them all easily accessible from one place. Eventually, it’ll likely replace the separate Movies and TV Shows apps on the Apple TV. (For now, they all awkwardly duplicate the same functionality.)

For the most part, you’ll be spending time in the TV app’s main “Watch Now” section. That’s where you can quickly resume a show or movie you’ve been watching, or hop to the next episode. It’s also where Apple’s curation kicks into overdrive. There are suggestions for hot shows to watch, new and noteworthy entries, and content featured on Channels partners like HBO. There’s a timely selection of Game of Thrones episodes to watch. Apple also said there would be a personalized “For You” section of recommendations, but that hasn’t launched yet.

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