Media Streamers

Apple calls new Apple TV app 'TV'

Coming in December, it provides a single place to access and discover shows and movies across different apps, but not Netflix.

James Martin/CNET
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The future of TV is apps, says Apple. And its latest app for the Apple TV box is called "TV."

The app showcases TV shows and movies from apps that a customer subscribes to, shows content you've purchased from iTunes, and surfaces new apps that offer video content.

"It will completely change how you watch TV with your Apple TV as well as your iPhone and iPad," said Apple CEO Tim Cook on stage at Apple's event today. It provides "a unified TV experience that's one place to access all of your TV shows and movies, one place to discover great new content to watch."

Unless, that is, you want to watch something from Netflix. TV shows and movies from the most popular streaming video service will not be included in Apple's TV app.

The app is designed to build on the universal search experience already provided by Apple TV (which does include Netflix) and other devices such as Roku, with a sort of universal browse. The top of the app, which has a design familiar to anyone who's used Apple TV before, has four sections labeled Watch Now, Library, Store and Search.

Watch Now allows you to continue watching a show from where you left off, and suggests new shows based on previous activity, surfacing those from services to which you're is subscribed. It also provides suggested new shows and movies in Spotlight and What to Watch sections.

The app is designed primarily for use on the big screen with Apple TV, but looks the same and offers the same functions on iPhone and iPad.

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James Martin/CNET

The TV app will incorporate Apple's single sign-on feature, which simplifies the arduous process of authenticating apps such as Watch ESPN and FX Now that require a cable subscription for full functionality. It even surfaces all of the apps a customer can subscribe to, based on their cable package. (These functions appear to be US-only for now.)

In addition to the new app, Apple also highlighted some current Apple TV features, including the ability to tune in to live TV from supported apps, and ask for specific categories of TV shows and movies, all using voice via the box's included Siri remote.

Cook said there are more than 8,000 apps available on Apple TV now, and announced the arrival of Minecraft to the platform by year's end. He also mentioned there are now more than 1,600 apps from video content providers.

The TV app will be available to Apple TV boxes via a free software update coming in December.

So uh, where's Netflix?

Watching Apple's announcement of the TV app, I kept an eye out for shows from the most popular streaming service, Netflix, but didn't see any. That's because Netflix is currently absent from inclusion in Apple's TV app.

That means it won't surface shows like "Daredevil," "Orange is the New Black" and "Stranger Things," even if you're a Netflix subscriber. To watch those shows, you'll have to go into the Netflix app itself.

Of course, Apple TV doesn't offer apps for non-iTunes video stores, namely Amazon, Google Play Movies and TV, Fandango Now and Vudu. Roku, our favorite platform, offers all of them, and you can sort results by price. Roku also shows new TV shows and movies across different app providers, similar to the Apple's TV app, in its My Feeds feature. For its part, Amazon will launch a new interface for Fire TV that also incorporates elements of cross-platform browsing.

Many details about the Apple's TV app are still unanswered, such as how Apple promotes certain apps, TV shows and movies over others, how prominently it incorporates content other third-party apps, and how much it tries to get you to buy stuff from iTunes.

We'll have more details soon. Stay tuned.

Check out the rest of CNET's coverage of all of today's Apple news.