Apple’s long-awaited Apple TV+ subscription video on demand (SVoD) streaming service launched Friday marking the start of the company’s foray into original content production to complement its growing direct-to-consumer streaming entertainment business.

The service fee runs $4.99 a month after a 7-day free trial period or free for one year to anyone who buys a new iPhone, Mac or iPad. In addition, the first two episodes of Apple TV+ original series “See,” “Dickinson,” “For All Mankind” and “The Morning Show” are available for free on Apple TV and iOS devices.

An Apple TV+ subscription allows access by up to six family members running simultaneous streams through a “Family Sharing” feature. Each user on the account can be set up in the Apple ID settings. This will establish access for each user on the account to a personalized viewing profile.

Subscribers are not required to agree to a service contract, which enables canceling at any time. At those terms and rates, Apple TV+ is a relative bargain compared to competitors like Netflix and Hulu. But to start, the service is only offering eight original titles and access to various popular movies.

Of interest to hi-def lovers, the service also offers selections in 4K Ultra HD resolution and HDR10 high dynamic range (HDR) at no additional cost. Viewers using Apple devices (like iOS mobile devices and Apple TV 4K boxes) will be able to see some 4K titles with the step-up Dolby Vision HDR profile and Dolby Atmos surround sound.

Apple has said more titles and series will be continusouly added over time. Apple TV+ partially eschews the traditional OTT practice started by Netflix of providing full seasons of original series episodes at one time for binge watching.

Instead, Apple TV+ is using a hybrid approach. This involves providing the first three episodes as a tease for some of its well-promoted shows — like “The Morning Show” and “See” — following those up with weekly releases of new episodes, like traditional linear TV programming. At the same time, it will occasionally make all season episodes available at one time for binge viewing of select series like “Dickinson.”

In addition to original content, the Apple TV+ app also includes the full iTunes movie library as well as content from partner services including HBO and Showtime.

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At launch the Apple TV+ app will be available on its iOS devices as well some Fire TV devices, some Roku devices, and recent model Sony, LG, Vizio and Samsung TV (2018 and later). It will also be availble through PC browsers. For iPad and iPhone viewers, Apple TV+ is allowing content downloads, to watch movies on the go.

Original titles available now (more will be added regularly going forward) include the following:

“See” — This is a post-appolcalyptic drama series starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard set 600 years in the future after a global virus reduced the human population and left most of the spieces blind.

“The Morning Show” — This is a drama series starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and starring Steve Carell that concerns the interactions and politics that go on around a TV morning news show.

“Dickinson” — This is a dark coming-of-age comedy involved with the constraints of society, gender and family experienced by rebellious young poet, Emily Dickinson.

“For All Mankind” — This is a series from Ronald D. Moore that explores how the world would have evolved if the global space race never ended and the space program remained the cultural centerpiece of America’s hopes and dreams.

“Helpsters” — This is a children’s series from the makers of Sesame Street about Cody and a team of vibrant monsters who love to help solve problems.

“Snoopy in Space” — This is another childrens original from Peanuts Worldwide and DHX Media that follows Snoppy as he follows his dreams to become an astronaut. Snoopy, Charlie Brown the rest of the Peanuts characters take command of the International Space Station and explore outer space.

“Ghostwriter” — This is described as a reinvention of the original series that follows four kids who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighborhood bookstore, and must team up to release fictional characters from works of literature.

“The Elephant Queen” — This is a documentary film tracing a species on the verge of extinction by following a majestic matriarch elephant and her herd on an epic journey of life, loss and homecoming.

Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club — This presents Oprah Winfrey and some of the world’s most compelling authors in conversation as Oprah “builds a vibrant, global book club community and other projects to connect with people around the world and share meaningful ways to create positive change.”

By Greg Tarr

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