Apple’s new TV app: The deep dive

And that’s… kinda beyond audacious. Whether it succeeds or not we’ll have to wait and see. My guess is not for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a really hard problem to solve and every content company has wasted obscene if not truly offensive amounts of money trying to solve. Because, second, human beings are weird. We’ll scroll past a movie or show a dozen times on a streaming service without so much as a click then, if we happen to turn the old fashioned cable on and the same exact movie is just playing on it already, we’ll just watch it.

Choice breeds indecision and virtually unlimited choice can breed near paralysis. I wonder if the only actual way to solve for not knowing what to watch is to have a few curated channels, doing exactly that kind of old fashioned TV station programming. Like Beats 1 but for video. And we can just join the Sci-Fi or Comedy playlist, or catch the movie monsters marathon, or something when all we want to solve for is noise in the room.

But… back to Watch Now.

The first row is Up Next, which is exactly that. If there’s anything you started but haven’t finished, it’ll show up front loaded here, along with anything new that you typically watch immediately, for example, a live sports event or the latest episode of your favorite show or the movie you pre-ordered and has just become available.

Freshness counts for Up Next. So, if a new show you watch comes out on Tuesday but you don’t have time to watch it, and a different new show you also watch comes out on Wednesday, the Wednesday one will slot in before the Tuesday one. Because more recent. Fresher.

The next row is What to Watch. It contains recommendations from Apple’s editors. Apple has a bunch of Movie and TV editors all around the world that all pick what they think is the best content for people in their regions. It’s part of Apple’s approach to curation which, like Apple News, uses a lot of machine learning but filters and enhances it with and by actual human beings.

Both of those rows were in the old TV app, as was Trending, which remains strictly what’s popular with other people using the TV app in your region.

For You is new. It’s similar to For You in Apple’s other content apps and I like that. Consistency, as I keep saying, is a user benefit. For You is the machine-learned part. It tries to surface what it thinks you’ll like to watch based on what you’ve previously watched.

I just love the interface work here. Both concept and execution. Previously, you could just browse all the thumbnails and that was fine. But, if you wanted to click into anything and get more information, you then had to click or tap back out again, and it made for a less than elegant experience.

Now, click into any of the thumbnails and you get this new card view with all the details and then, rather than having to click out, you can just stay in the card view and swipe through all the rest of the content. You can even play the trailers right in the card and then keep going. The whole thing, from the information density to the animation between cards is just really top notch. Love it.

All three of these rows, What to Watch, For You, and Trending can and will contain content you already have access to through the services you already get, including cable companies that integrate with TV, like Spectrum, DirectTV, and Optimum, and streaming services, like Hulu, Amazon Prime, PlayStation Vue, and Fubo.

But, you’ll also see some popular or highly recommended content you may not yet have access to because you haven’t yet subscribed to some of their services.

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