Apple is joining the likes of Netflix and Amazon and making its own TV shows for distribution on the Apple TV, and you can already stream some Apple's shows now, as long as you subscribe to Apple Music for £9.99 a month.

The company is also reported to be planning to offer movies two to three weeks after cinema release, in a move that could threaten cinema chains, find out more below. 

4K movies

Apple revealed at its 12 September event that 4K titles are coming to Apple TV and these new titles will be available at the same price as HD titles are currently. In fact Apple says that if you have already purchased a HD title you will be able to automatically get the 4K version.

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (when it's released) will both support 4K on Apple TV.

Older Apple TVs will not be able to play the 4K content.

Apple TV app

To date the Apple TV app is the closest Apple has come to offering customers all the shows and movies they might want to watch in one place. It pulls the information about all the content from all the different content apps you might have on the Apple TV into one place so that you can make a choice about what you want to watch without having to go into all the different apps.

The TV app supports over 60 services on Apple TV and iOS devices, according to Apple. And more are being added.

The Apple TV app will be available in the UK in a few months time.

Apple's original content plans

Apple is said to have invested $1 billions buying and producing its own video content in a bid to compete with Netflix and Amazon, according to reports. 

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg claim that the investment could translate to 10 new shows. 

Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine confirmed that Apple had plans to offer original video content via its Apple Music service back in January 2017. Speaking at a Television Critics Association event, Irvine said that Apple is working towards creating "an entire cultural, pop cultural experience, and that happens to include audio and video," via the Apple Music service.

Apple is said to be building a team that will be based in Los Angeles. The team will be lead by two ex-Sony Pictures execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt, have worked at Sony for 15 years (Amburg) and 20 years (Erlicht).

Erlicht said: "It will be an honor to be part of the Apple team. We want to bring to video what Apple has been so successful with in their other services and consumer products — unparalleled quality.”

Van Amburg added: “Apple has a relentless focus on delighting customers with their products. We will bring that same intention to Apple’s programming and we could not be more excited about what lies ahead,” according to a report on Deadline Hollywood.

The latest addition to Erlicht and Van Amburg's Apple’s TV content team is Matt Cherniss, president of US TV broadcasting company WGN. He was behind shows such as Manhattan and Salem and has previously worked for Sony, Warner Bros. Pictures and Fox.

Apple has launched two shows so far, Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, and you can find out more about them below. The shows are distributed via the £9.99 a month Apple Music subscription service currently, but it is likely a new service would be launched to host the new movie and TV content, perhaps Apple Movies.

Apple Movie rentals

Movie studios are said to be working with Apple on plans to release movies for rental just two or three weeks after cinema release, according to a Bloomberg report.

Apparently these PVOD (premium video on demand) rentals would be available to download months before they hit services like Netflix and Now TV, but they would have a higher price than Apple’s usual rental deals. According to the Bloomberg report, if rented from iTunes the movies could cost between $30-$50, while the average price of a cinema ticket is $8.84. ($30 is about £24).

It’s normal for digital rentals of movies to be available around three months after cinema release.

This move could be a threat to cinema chains, although the high price of the iTunes rentals is likely to put most customers off - although the price of taking a family of four to the cinema might turn out to be higher than the rental price of the movie.

Will Apple offer iTunes Movies and TV shows on a subscription basis?

Apple currently has an extensive library of movie and TV shows available via iTunes. Rather than being available on a subscription basis, as with Netflix and Amazon, you can only choose to rent of buy movies, or buy individual episodes or series passes for TV content.

Since Netflix took off there have been calls for Apple to offer content via a subscription service, but as yet it hasn't done so.

Apple's willingness to offer shows to Apple Music subscribers, and it's hires in the TV and movie production field, does seem to indicate that this is something it plans to do, but it isn't clear whether it will only offer it's own content via subscription, or if it will offer all the content available on iTunes. People want the latter, but Apple will need necessary deals with the content providers in place before it can do so.

One thing is clear, Apple is unlikely to offer an commercial-based model in order to cut the subscription cost to consumers. Speaking at Recode in February 2017, Apple's Eddy Cue said of such models: "I'm not saying we'll never do it.. I don't think it's the direction we should be going. I don't think that's what our customers are asking for."

What movies and TV shows is Apple making?

The Wall Street Journal reported in January 2017 that Apple has been talking to producers about creating premium programming and movies. So far we know only of the following programmes that have been made for Apple's streaming service:

Carpool Karaoke

A popular spot on CBS's The Late Late Show, 16 episodes of Carpool Karaoke will be available to stream via Apple Music - though not all will star original host James Corden, and the majority will instead feature a variety of celebrity pairings.

The show was set to start streaming in April, but eventually premiered in August 2017. You will need a Apple Music subscription in order to watch the episodes.

Apple is showing a pair of ads for upcoming episodes, one of which will feature Queen Latifah, and the other featuring Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, plus the rest of their family. This time the presenter is Jada Pinkett Smith rather than creator James Corden.

Here’s the ad for the episode featuring the Cyrus family.

Previous episodes have included Ariana Grande and Seth MacFarlane…

…and "Game of Thrones" co-stars Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner.

If you have signed up for Apple Music, or if you sign up for the free three month trial, you can watch the first episode here.

Planet of the Apps

Hosted by this is a sort of Dragon's Den for App developers. It features celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba mentoring app developers. App developers have the length of a escalator ride to pitch their apps.

Apple posted this trailer:

Planet of the Apps is available on Apple Music - you can watch it here.

Vital Signs

Backed by Apple, Dr Dre's semi-autobiographical six-part series was rumoured to be in production in February 2016. However, little has been revealed about this show since those reports appeared regarding it.

Will Apple's shows only be about music and apps?

Apparently Apple doesn't intend to limit content. The programmes won't be limited to music or app themes, according to Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine. "If South Park walks into my office, I am not going to say you're not musicians, you know?" he said, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

How can I watch Apple's TV shows?

The shows that are currently live are available for Apple Music subscribers for £9.99 a month. You can also sign up for a free trial for three months here.

As of February 2017 there were 20 million paid subscribers to the Apple Music service. Subscribers are able to stream the shows on their Apple devices including the newest Apple TV model, the iPhone and iPad, and the Mac.

When will I be able to watch Apple's TV shows in the UK?

iTunes tends to be region specific so it is possible that there may be a delay in content being available in the UK, and some content may never be made available in the UK. However in terms of the Apple Music shows those programmes were be available in the UK at the same time as they went live in the US, so that may be the case with at least some of the content available on Apple's Movie & TV streaming service. 

Podcast: Apple's TV plans

The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discuss Apple TV-streaming plans in episode 52, starting at 24 minutes.

Background to Apple's Movie & TV streaming service plans

There have been rumours for years that Apple planned to work with the networks to distribute content via its own streaming service. Here is a run down of the various rumours that have emerged, as well as some of the hurdles Apple is said to have encountered along the way.

Why has it taken Apple so long to offer a streaming service?

Back in 2015 Apple was said to be negotiating deals with networks. At the time, ESPN's boss John Skipper confirmed that he was working on a deal with Apple for its rumoured streaming service, but revealed that Apple was having more trouble convincing other networks to join in.

However, it appears Apple hit a bit of a brick wall with the negotiations because by August 2015 talks with CBS, Fox, and NBC were said to have stalled. And then, in December 2015 it was claimed that Apple was putting its plans for the streaming service on hold because the cable companies and networks were proving too resistant to the idea.

By February 2016 CBS CEO Les Moonves had confirmed that talks with Apple had stopped following months of conversations with content providers: "We had conversations awhile back, and we haven't had recent conversations with them," Moonves said. 

Why did Apple fail to come to an agreement in these negotiations? One report claimed that Apple was looking to collect a 30% fee from all subscriptions and the network operators weren't happy about this.

Having failed to negotiate content deals will Apple instead seek to acquire companies that have content available for distribution? There are claims that the company could buy Disney, for example, more on that below.

For now the company seems to be distancing itself from the idea. Speaking at Recode, Apple's Eddy Cue said that Apple isn't "trying to buy a bunch of shows," indicating that Apple isn't planning to make any content acquisitions, and back in June 2016 Apple's Eddy Cue said that Apple wasn't interested in becoming a Netflix competitor.

Is Apple going to launch a television?

The short answer: no. Rumours that Apple would launch a TV were circulating for some time, spurred by the fact that Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs seemed to hint in his biography that he intended to reinvent television. This spurred a long running rumour that Apple would launch an actual television set.

Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson: "I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use… It will have the simplest use interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to share Jobs' TV dreams. Over the years he has suggested both that the TV experience needed to be bought up to date, and that Apple might revolutionise television. He stated back in September 2014: "Think how much your life has changed, and all the things around you that have changed, and yet TV, when you go into the living room to watch TV or wherever it may be, it almost feels like you're rewinding the clock and you've entered a time capsule and you're going backwards. The interface is terrible, I mean it's awful. You watch things when they come on unless you remember to record them."

Analyst Gene Munster was probably the most vocal in his predictions that Apple would launch an actual TV, he may even have been correct, as there were reports that Apple did have a team working on an actual TV, but it appears that the company eventually ditched the idea.

Instead of launching an actual television, the company launched Apple's tvOS and the re-imagined Apple TV in 2016, both of which could be seen as the culmination of Steve Jobs vision for TV. However, those who were hoping for the reinvention of television, with a fancy TV set and a Netflix-style streaming service were disappointed.

Read our review of the 2015 Apple TV here.

Will Apple buy Sony, Paramount...

Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior vice president Eddy Cue have been talking with TV and film producers in Hollywood.

The New York Post source told the paper that Apple "Is looking for a transformative acquisition and not just a deal to buy TV shows".

The Apple execs have met with execs Paramount Pictures and with Sony TV and film.

The outcome of discussion with Sony execs might be the eventual hiring of Sony execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt. These ex-Sony Pictures execs will help Apple with its programming plans.

Could Apple buy Disney?

Apple could probably buy a whole country if it wanted to, it has so much money in the bank. As to whether it might buy Disney, there are reasons to think that such a deal wouldn't be completely surprising: to do so would bring content, excellent co-branding potential, and a 30% share of Hulu.

There is also the fact that Steve Jobs was Disney's biggest shareholder following his sale of Pixar to the company, and the fact that Disney CEO Bob Iger sits on Apple's board.

With all that in mind, it's hardly surprising that the rumour has been circulating. However it would make Apple a conglomerate and we don't think that becoming such a diverse organisation would fit  with Apple's DNA.

Could Apple buy Netflix?

Another rumour doing the rounds is that Apple could buy Netflix. However, Apple's Eddy Cue has quashed that rumour by saying that Apple isn't looking to buy a content company: "We might be better buying somebody or doing that, but that's not what we're trying to do," Cue said at the Recode conference in February 2017.

Could Apple buy HBO? Time Warner?

There was a rumour that Apple was considering buying HBO, the home of Game of Thrones as part of an acquisition deal with Time Warner.

Back in early 2016 a New York Post report even claimed that Apple might even buy Time Warner, Inc. That purchase would include HBO, CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. However, no such deal emerged.