5 things I wish I'd known before subscribing to Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is one of the best streaming services and it's superb value for money. Here's what I wish I'd known earlier

Severance on Apple TV+
(Image credit: Apple)

I love Apple TV+. When you consider what it costs (virtually nothing, and sometimes actually nothing – more of that in a moment) and how good its best shows are (very, very good indeed) it's an absolute bargain. It's not as big as its rivals' best streaming services but it's more consistent in terms of quality, and it doesn't seem to have picked up Netflix's love of getting you excited about new shows only to cancel them before they really hit their stride. But there are a few things I think you should know about it before you decide to subscribe. Here are five things I wish I'd known before subscribing to Apple TV+.

1. You can probably get it for free for months and months

If like me you have an Apple household and tend to upgrade your or your family members' iPhone 13, iPad Air or Apple Watch from time to time, you can get three months of Apple TV+ free whenever you buy new Apple kit. It used to be a year but sadly that's been scaled back. 

The only catch is that you have to redeem the offer within 90 days of purchase. So if you were to buy the iPhone 14 next month you'd be good until mid-December, and if you then bought the Apple Watch Series 8... you get the idea. And because you can share Apple TV+ via family sharing, you can share the free TV with up to five other family members.

2. It's the cheapest family-friendly streaming service

At £4.99/$4.99 a month Apple TV+ is cheaper than Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services. And it's exceptional value if you share it with your family. A single Apple TV+ subscription can be shared via Family Sharing and unlike some other streaming services, it doesn't care whether those family members are in the same building as you. Or you can do what I do and subscribe to Apple One, which cuts the overall cost of your various Apple services and still enables you to share Apple TV+ with your family.

3. It's all about the originals

Apple doesn't have the huge libraries of old stuff and licensed content that rival streaming services have, and that means it lives or dies on the quality of its original content. And its original content is very, very good. In recent months I've binged For All Mankind, Slow Horses, Severance and many more, and I've come to associate Apple TV+ with high quality programme making. The downside, of course, is that there's less content to browse.

4. It's not the best for bingeing new shows

If you're the kind of person who finds a new show and immediately wants to binge it – something I've been doing with Sandman on Netflix – Apple TV can be a little frustrating: its best shows are released bit by bit, with new episodes dropping on Fridays instead of all going online at once. Once the episodes have been released you can binge the whole lot, but if you're a fan of instant gratification Apple TV+ needs you to be more patient.

5. Its interface can be a little confusing

Apple TV+ runs in the TV app, but that app doesn't just run Apple TV+: for example on my Apple TV 4K it also integrates the various other streaming and catch-up services (but not Netflix, which has opted not to be included) as well as paid-for options. That means you'll often click on a show or movie thinking "oh cool, it's on Apple TV+" only to discover that it isn't and that you'll need to sign up for another service or buy the download. First world problems, I know, but it's still annoying.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).