How to watch Apple TV+ hit Foundation episode 1 for free

You can stream Apple's spectacular SF epic for free – and you don't need any kind of Apple account to do it

Foundation season 1 on Apple TV+
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple TV+ is starting to look like one of the best streaming services for SF, but it's not the most popular one: it's currently the seventh most popular streaming service in the US, so that means people aren't necessarily aware of some of its best shows. Apple wants to change that, and it's turning to social media to do it. Last month it made the first episode of Silo streamable for free on Twitter, and now it's doing the same with its SF epic Foundation on YouTube.

Apple is currently streaming Foundation S1E1, The Emperor's Peace, here on YouTube.  The stream is free to watch, and Apple of course hopes it’ll spur you to sign up for Apple TV+ to watch the rest of the season and the brand new second season too. That returns on 14 July.

What is Foundation and what else does Apple TV+ offer?

Foundation is based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, and it follows a rag-tag bunch of humans on a monumental journey to save mankind amid the fall of the Galactic Empire. It’s visually stunning and highly imaginative, but like most epic SF with a pre-existing fanbase it’s ruffled some feathers: some fans are unhappy that the show doesn’t stick like glue to the original books, so comments such as “if you watch it without knowing the books, it would likely be very enjoyable” are pretty telling.

The critical consensus is much more positive. “Silence your phones. This show demands your attention,” says El Pais, while The Sydney Morning Herald says that “as with all good sci-fi, Foundation gives you plenty to chew on -- and the chewing has only just begun.” The negatives tend to be focused on the show’s pacing, so for example CNET says that “austere and slow-moving, Foundation may not boast characters that immediately grab you. But this stylish, serious series lays a solid foundation for an intriguing sci-fi diversion.”

Foundation is part of a strong SF line-up on Apple TV. In addition to the aforementioned Silo there’s the epic SF soap For All Mankind, which somehow manages to involve shoot-outs on the moon, and there’s also alien drama Invasion and the dystopian See. I’d describe Severance – one of the best TV shows ever – as SF due to its central brain-twisting concept, and Shining Girls’ time travel puts that one in the SF camp too. There’s some really great stuff on Apple TV+ right now, and it’d be good if Apple’s free streaming exposes that to a bigger audience.

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 (