Apple TV+ the streaming service from Apple is finally here. It costs £4.99/$4.99 a month, which is less than other streaming services. But it also offers less than other streaming services, lacking the huge catalogues of films and TV shows on offer from Netflix, Amazon Prime and the others.
You might want to watch See, or The Morning Show, or one of the other shows being broadcast by Apple but the monthly subscription may not appeal to you. Wondering if you can get Apple TV+ for free? We’ll run through your options.
How to watch shows for free on Apple TV+
As of 9 April 2020 in the US, and 11 April in the UK and elsewhere Apple started making some shows completely free to watch without subscribing. We have more information about which shows Apple is offering for free here.
Free shows include:
- For All Mankind
- Little America
- The Elephant Queen
- Snoopy in Space
We don't know when or if Apple will stop offering these shows for free, we imagine that it will continue to do so though. This move may also indicate that other shows could become free in the future.
Sign up for the 7-day trial
If you want to watch a show that isn't available for free you could activate your free seven-day trial and binge-watch it!
The 7-day trial will automatically auto-renew into a monthly subscription though, so you will need to be prepared to cancel within the week if you don’t want to be out-of-pocket.
The 7-day trial might sound attractive if you think you can watch a whole series in a week. However, watch out with new series as you may find Apple is adding a new episode each week. This is what Apple did with the first season of See.
On that basis, you could wait until the whole of the series you want to watch is online and then attempt to watch all the episodes that week before stopping the subscription before it starts.
That’s all very well if you have a particular series in mind and think you can spare the time to watch the whole season in one week, but what if you think you might need a bit more time?
Wondering what all the fuss is about? Here's a complete list of the shows on Apple TV+.
Buy an Apple product for a free year of Apple TV+
There is a way you can get a whole year of Apple TV+ for free. All you need to do is buy a new Apple product.
That could include any of the following:
- iPhone, from £419/$399 for an iPhone SE
- iPad, from £349/$345 for an iPad
- iPod touch, from £199/$199 for an iPod touch
- Mac, from £799/$799 for a Mac mini
- Apple TV, from £149/$149 for the Apple TV HD
If you have made your qualifying purchase all you need to do is:
- Open the TV app on your new Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV
- Make sure the device is running the latest software
- Click on the show you want to watch - you should see the option to Enjoy 1 Year Free. Note: this will only appear if you have purchased a new device, otherwise you will only see the 7-day trial offer.
- Click Continue
- Confirm that you want to activate the free year.
- You will see a message that the free year will commence immediately and will run until this time next year at which point it will renew for a monthly subscription. If you want to cancel the subscription you can do so.
Note: You have three months from buying a new device to start the free year’s subscription, so as long as you purchased your new Apple product recently then you should be ok to activate your trial. Also, if you stop the free one-year trial before it ends you can't restart it.
What if you are thinking of buying a new Apple device later 2020. Will you be able to switch from a subscription to the free year trial? We think that the way to do this would be to cancel your subscription before signing up again via the one-year trial. (We discuss how to cancel your subscription below).
Share an Apple TV+ subscription with your family
You can share a subscription to TV+ with six family members.
To do this you all need to be part of the same Family Sharing group.
By linking your Apple accounts together under the Family Sharing group you will all be able to:
- Share music purchased from the iTunes Store
- Share access to Apple Music (as long as you have a family Apple Music subscription)
- Share apps bought from the App Store (in app purchases can’t be shared though)
- Share Apple Books
- Access games on Apple’s Arcade gaming platform (with a subscription)
- Share a News+ subscription
- Share an iCloud storage plan
One of your family members will need to be the family organiser, who basically chooses who joins the group, and has to put up their bank details to pay for any purchases.
It’s supposed to be family members in the same household. While you could set this up with other ‘family’ members we think the frustration of having all the payments for everything going through the ‘organiser’s’ bank account could make this a hard sell. However, if does at least mean that you and your partner don’t both have to subscribe to the service in order to watch shows on both of your iPhones.
So that’s three ways to get Apple TV+ for free, at least for a short time, or by sharing a subscription with a family member.
However, we think the best way to get access to Apple TV+ is to subscribe as usual but just cancel at any time. You could watch everything you want this month and then stop subscribing next month and it would only cost you £4.99/$4.99. If you have a lot of time on your hands (and given the circumstances right now you probably have) this is a great way to keep occupied.
To cancel your Apple TV+ subscription follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap on the section at the top with your name.
- Tap on iTunes & App Store.
- Tap on your Apple ID at the top.
- Choose View Apple ID.
- Scroll down to Subscriptions. Tap on it.
- Now tap on any subscription you wish to cancel (in this case Apple TV+).
- On the next page tap on Cancel Subscription.
Get paid by Apple!
If you are already paying for Apple TV+ every month you will be pleased to learn that Apple is giving subscribers a refund for three months from November 2020 - so you can expect to see £4.99 added to your Apple account for November, December and January. Read: Apple starts paying Apple TV+ users.