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Hands-On With Apple's New Second-Generation AirPods

Apple's second-generation AirPods, announced last week, started showing up on people's doorsteps this morning and also became available for purchase in Apple retail stores. We picked up a set of AirPods 2 to see how they compare to the original AirPods.


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Second-generation AirPods actually come in two configurations: with a new Wireless Charging Case and with a Lightning-only charging case, with the former priced at $199 and the latter priced at $159. We purchased the version with the Wireless Charging Case, as the new case is one of the major changes.

Design wise, you're not going to be able to tell the new AirPods from the original AirPods. They're still only available in white and they continue to feature the exact same design - white plastic buds with a stem at the bottom.

All of the changes to the AirPods are actually internal. There's a new H1 chip that replaces the W1 chip and brings quite a few improvements. In our experience, AirPods 2 connect to your devices much more quickly than the original AirPods, and swapping between devices is faster.

Latency has been cut down, and because the AirPods 2 support Bluetooth 5.0, you may see some range and quality improvements. We think the AirPods 2 seem to sound a bit better, especially at higher volumes.

There's a new "Hey Siri" feature that lets you activate Siri hands-free without the need to tap on the AirPods, and when talking on the phone, battery life is now three hours instead of two.

A major difference between AirPods 1 and AirPods 2 is the aforementioned Wireless Charging Case, which comes with AirPods 2 and can be purchased on a standalone basis for AirPods 1 for $79. The Wireless Charging Case lets you use any Qi-based wireless charger to charge up your AirPods, and it will let the AirPods work with the AirPower if Apple ever releases it.

AirPods 1 and AirPods 2 are not interchangeable -- if you try to use an original AirPod with a second-generation AirPod in the AirPods Charging Case, it will flash red to let you know about the incompatibility.

There's no real way to visually tell the two versions apart, but if you connect them to your iPhone, you can see which version you have by opening up the Settings app, choosing General, and scrolling down to the AirPods section. You can tell the Charging Case from the standard case because the LED light that indicates charging is on the outside of the case rather on the inside.

The second-generation AirPods shipped without features many were hoping for such as a new color and health tracking capabilities, but still mark a solid upgrade over the original version. What do you think of Apple's new AirPods? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)
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U.S. ITC Judge Says Apple Infringed on Qualcomm Patent, Import Ban Recommended [Updated]

A U.S. International Trade Commission judge today ruled that Apple has infringed on a Qualcomm patent with its iPhones, and has recommended that a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order be issued against Apple.

According to the ruling, Apple violated claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 8,063,674, "multiple supply-voltage power-up/down detectors." Apple did not violate two other patents that were involved in the case, with the infringement limited to the '674 patent.


The judge has recommended an import ban on infringing iPhones, which would prevent them from being sold in the United States.

As CNET points out, this is not a final ruling, and will need to be approved by a panel of judges before it moves on to presidential review.

This is one of two patent infringement rulings expected from the ITC in the ongoing Qualcomm vs. Apple legal battle. Back in September, an initial ruling in a second case also found that Apple infringed on a Qualcomm patent related to power management technology.

The judge in that case recommended against an import ban because of "public interest factors."

Qualcomm wants the ITC to ban imports of AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models that use chips from Intel.

Qualcomm and Apple have been fighting in courts all over the world, and Qualcomm has successfully won import bans in China and Germany, which Apple has since skirted with software and hardware updates.

In the U.S., a jury recently found Apple guilty of infringing on three of Qualcomm's patents, recommending a fine of approximately $31 million in damages. Apple is appealing that ruling and the fight between the two companies is far from over.

Update: In a second patent infringement case that the ITC ruled on today [PDF], Apple was found not to have infringed on patented Qualcomm technology related to power management. This second ruling does not impact the first infringement ruling covered in the initial article.

Update 2: Apple provided Bloomberg with the following statement on the second ITC verdict: "We're pleased the ITC has found Qualcomm's latest patent claims invalid, it's another important step to making sure American companies are able to compete fairly in the marketplace. Qualcomm is using these cases to distract from having to answer for the real issues, their monopolistic business practices. They are being investigated by governments around the world for their behavior and we look forward to detailing the many ways they're harming consumers and stifling innovation when we present our case in San Diego next month."

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New AirPods Sound Quality Debated as Orders Begin to Arrive Around the World

Apple's new second-generation AirPods are beginning to arrive to customers around the world, and some early adopters have turned to the MacRumors forums and social media to share their first impressions of the earphones.

The new AirPods unboxed via Reddit user Lachlanhunt

The new AirPods have the same outward design as the original and remain available in white only. Apple continues to include a one-meter Lightning to USB-A cable in the box with all second-generation AirPods.

Hey Siri


Powered by a new H1 chip, the new AirPods support hands-free Siri, enabling users to change songs, make phone calls, adjust the volume, get directions, and more by saying "Hey Siri." Siri can still be activated by doubling tapping one of the AirPods if enabled in Settings > Bluetooth on an iOS device.

First impressions about the new Hey Siri functionality are mostly positive so far. MacRumors forum member Moxxham from Australia wrote that "Hey Siri seems to work really well," even with loud music playing in the background, while Reddit user Lachlanhunt found the feature "works reasonably well."

Sound Quality


First impressions about overall audio quality are both subjective and anecdotal, with conflicting opinions as to whether the new AirPods sound better than the original. Reports range from users not noticing any difference all the way to feeling like the new AirPods are a huge improvement for sound.


MacRumors forum member Kiky disagrees with the above tweet:
When listening to music, I could not make out any discernible difference between my AirPods 2 and my wife’s original AirPods. I bought the AirPods 2 mainly for the gym and casual wireless listening. They will replace my Jabra’s which have lousy latency issues and fatigue my ears after 30 mins or so.
At the very least, MacRumors reader Vladislav Kuznetsov and many others agree that features like Siri and FaceTime calls sound clearer:


On a related note, Apple recently seeded a 6.3.2 firmware update for the first-generation AirPods, and some users on MacRumors and Reddit are speculating that the update has led to improved audio quality and faster connection speeds on the first-generation AirPods. Evidence is anecdotal at this point.

Early adopters are also noticing that the new AirPods switch more quickly between devices like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac they are connected. Apple says the H1 chip makes switching between sources up to two times faster.

As far as battery life is concerned, more time will be needed for a proper comparison between the new AirPods and the original pair.

Apple says the new AirPods get up to three hours of talk time per charge, compared to up to two hours with the previous generation. Other battery life stats remain the same, with up to five hours of listening time per charge and more than 24 hours of total battery life from extra charges stored in the case.


The new AirPods are available to order on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app with a wired charging case for $159, the same price as the original AirPods, and with a wireless charging case for $199. Apple says both options will be available at Apple Stores and select resellers starting this week.

MacRumors will be sharing our own second-generation AirPods hands-on video and impressions soon. Let us know your own first impressions in the comments section or by tweeting at us with a @MacRumors mention!

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)
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AirPods 2 Now Available for In-Store Pickup

Apple's updated second-generation AirPods began arriving to customers around the world this morning, marking the official launch of the new earbuds.

The new AirPods have also made their way into stores and are available for in-store pickup. Many stores across the United States appear to have immediate availability of the AirPods, so if you want a set, you can pop into a retail location and get them today.


It's not clear how much available supply there is, but almost are stores are listing stock at the current time.

Retail stores are stocking the AirPods 2 with Wireless Charging Case ($199), AirPods 2 with standard Charging Case ($159), and the standalone Wireless Charging Case ($79) that adds wireless charging capabilities to your existing AirPods.

Apple's second-generation AirPods continue to be available solely in white, and there were no design changes introduced with the update. The AirPods are equipped with an updated H1 chip, which brings connectivity improvements. AirPods now connect more quickly to your devices, and swapping between devices is two times faster.

Bluetooth 5.0 is supported for improved range, and the new AirPods have a hands-free "Hey Siri" feature so you no longer need to activate Siri by tapping on one of the earbuds (though this option still exists).

The major new feature with the AirPods 2 is of course wireless charging, which, with the Wireless Charging Case allows the AirPods and case to be charged using any Qi-based wireless charging option. When the long-awaited and still missing AirPower is released, the new AirPods Wireless Charging Case will be required to charge AirPods with the accessory.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)
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Roku CEO Talks About Apple TV+ Going Cross-Platform

Apple yesterday shared plans to bring its Apple TV app to multiple smart TVs and third-party set-top boxes, including the Amazon Fire TV and Roku. The TV app will house Apple TV+, Apple's upcoming streaming service for its original content when it launches later this year.

Following Apple's announcement, Roku CEO Anthony Wood spoke to CNBC about Apple's decision to expand access to the TV app, expressing excitement that the content will be available on Roku devices.


Wood believes that Apple is "well-positioned" to be successful in the TV streaming market, despite its competitiveness, due to the company's large user base.
There were not a lot of details announced, but I think they're well-positioned to be successful. They've got a lot of experience with subscription services, they're investing a lot of money in content, and they've got a great brand and lots of loyal customers.
Wood went on to say that while Apple is counting on its iOS and macOS devices to "jumpstart" Apple TV+, the importance of smart TVs should not be ignored.
When you have a TV streaming service, you know, obviously they're counting on jumpstarting that with all of their iPhone and iPad and Mac customers, but actually, smart TVs are the way that most streaming services - long form streaming services - are viewed by customers. That's where they spend most of their hours.
Roku, says Wood, is the leading streaming TV platform, and if Apple wants to be successful, Apple needs to be on Roku and other similar platforms.
For any kind of service like that to be successful, you want to be on the leading streaming TV platforms and Roku is the leading streaming TV platform. We're the leading distributor of streaming content in the U.S.
According to Wood, there are no real negatives to Apple entering the streaming market for Roku because Roku supports all streaming services to offer its customers choice. Roku isn't betting on any one company to come out ahead in the streaming market because Roku "works with everyone" and benefits from a large amount of content being available.

Apple TV+ will launch in the fall, but ahead of its debut, the newly revamped TV app will become available in May. Apple plans to bring the TV app to multiple third-party platforms, starting with Samsung Smart TVs. Later in the year, it will expand to Amazon Fire TV devices, Roku devices, and smart TVs from Sony, LG, and Vizio.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12
Tag: Roku
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)
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Apple News is Crashing for Some Users on iOS 12.2 and macOS 10.14.4 [Fixed]

Following yesterday's release of iOS 12.2 and macOS 10.14.4, and the launch of the Apple News+ subscription service for magazines and newspapers, some users are reporting that the Apple News app is crashing on both platforms.


The issue has been noted by readers in the MacRumors forums and on social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit since early Tuesday. Apple appears to have informed some customers that it is aware of the problem and working on a fix, although its system status page does not yet reflect any issues.

There do not seem to be any workarounds that resolve the crashing for more than a few seconds, so affected users will likely have to wait on Apple for a fix, which developer Steve Troughton-Smith believes could arrive remotely.


The crashing is likely related to some kind of technical hiccup following the rollout of Apple News+ yesterday. The subscription service offers unlimited access to hundreds of magazines and newspapers for $9.99 per month in the United States and $12.99 per month in Canada within the Apple News app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Update: As noted by Rene Ritchie, Apple has fixed the crashing issue.

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Everything Apple Announced at Today's 'It's Show Time' Event in 6 Minutes

Apple today held its first ever services-centric event, where the company introduced several new and upcoming service products with no hardware announcements at all.

It took Apple almost two hours to introduce Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple Card, and Apple TV+, but we've recapped the entire event in just six minutes for our readers who want a no-frills overview of everything Apple announced today.


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The only service that's available today, Apple News+, is designed to provide access to hundreds of magazines and a handful of paywalled news sources for $9.99 per month. Everyone on a Family Sharing plan can access Apple News+ for that $9.99 per month fee.

Apple Card is a new credit card Apple's offering in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Starting this summer, you can sign up for an Apple Card right on the iPhone and start using it immediately for Apple Pay purchases. You can make digital payments with Apple Pay using the card, but for non-Apple Pay payments, Apple is giving customers a slick titanium card with no visible credit card info like number and CVV (all of that info is in Wallet, though).

With Apple Card, you get 1% cash back for standard card purchases, 2% cash back for Apple Pay purchases, and 3% cash back for Apple purchases. Cash back is provided to you on a daily basis and you can use it for paying your balance, making purchases, or sending Apple Pay Cash in Messages. There are also unique budgeting and tracking tools for monitoring spending along with support via the Messages app. There are no fees, and Apple plans to offer low interest rates.

Apple Arcade is Apple's new cross-platform subscription gaming service that will provide access to more than 100 iOS games from publishers like Disney, Sega, LEGO, Cartoon Network, Konami, and more when it launches this fall in over 150 countries. Apple hasn't announced pricing, but an Apple Arcade subscription will include full access to all games with no additional in-app purchases necessary to unlock content.

Apple's final services announcement was Apple TV+, which will house all of the company's original TV content. Apple has more than a dozen original shows in the works from creators like Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, and Oprah. Pricing hasn't been announced because it's not launching till the fall, but Apple TV+ will be available in Apple's revamped TV app, coming in May.

The new TV app, which will be available on iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac (in the fall) and third-party Smart TVs from Sony, LG, Samsung, and Vizio, features better than ever recommendations built on machine learning and a new "Channels" option that will let you subscribe to and watch content from providers like Starz, Showtime, and HBO.

Below, we've rounded up all of our coverage from today's event if you missed it:Make sure to stay tuned to MacRumors because we'll have more coverage of Apple's new services including detailed guides coming this week.

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Apple Releases macOS Mojave 10.14.4 With Safari Automatic Dark Mode and Apple News+ Support

Apple today released macOS Mojave 10.14.4, the fourth update to the macOS Mojave operating system that first launched in September. macOS 10.14.4 comes more than two months after the release of macOS Mojave 10.14.3, a minor bug fix update.

macOS Mojave 10.14.4 can be downloaded by going to the "Software Update" section of System Preferences. The update is free for all Mac users who have a machine that supports it.


macOS Mojave 10.14.4 introduces support for the new Apple News+ subscription service that is designed to allow Apple News users to sign up for unlimited access to news and magazines for a monthly fee. The update also brings Apple News to Canada, allowing Canadian Mac users to access news stories in French, English, or both.

macOS Mojave 10.14.4 includes support for Safari AutoFill using Touch ID and it offers automatic dark mode themes in Safari. If you have Dark Mode enabled in Mojave, when you visit a website that has an option for a dark theme after installing the update, it will be activated automatically. Full release notes for the update are below:
The macOS Mojave 10.14.4 update adds support for Apple News+, includes bug fixes and improvements, improves the stability and reliability of your Mac, and is recommended for all users.

Apple News+
- Apple News+ is a new subscription service that extends to the Apple News experience with hundreds of magazines and top newspapers
- Our editors handpick top articles and magazine issues, and you also get personalized recommendations on the topics most interesting to you
- Automatic downloads make it easy to read magazine issues offline
- Apple News is now available in Canada, with a free experience that includes handpicked Top Stories, a personalized Today feed, and support for both English and French
- Apple News+ is available in the U.S. and Canada, with dozens of additional Canadian Magazines.

Safari
- Adds Dark Mode support for websites that support custom color schemes
- Streamlines website login when filling credentials with Password Autofill
- Allows push notification prompts only after interacting with a website
- Adds a warning when an insecure webpage is loaded
- Removes support for the expired Do Not Track standard to prevent potential use as a fingerprinting variable; Intelligent Tracking Prevention now protects against cross-site tracking by default

iTunes
- Shows more editorial highlights on a single page in the Browse tab, making it easier to find new music, playlists, and more in Apple Music

AirPods

- Adds support for new AirPods (2nd Generation)

More
- Supports Air Quality index in Maps for US, UK, and India
- Improves the quality of audio recordings in Messages
- Supports real-time text (RTT for phone calls made through a nearby iPhone on Mac
- Provides enhanced support for external GPUs in Activity Monitor
- Fixes an App Store issue that may have prevented adoption of the latest versions of Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, and GarageBand
- Improves the reliability of USB audio devices when used with the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models introduced in 2018
- Corrects the default screen brightness for MacBook Air (Fall 2018)
- Fixes a graphics compatibility issue that may occur on some external displays connected to a Mac mini (2018)
- Resolves Wi-Fi connection issues that may occur after upgrading to macOS Mojave
- Fixes an issue where re-adding an Exchange account may cause it to disappear from Internet Accounts
- Fixes an issue where AOL passwords may be frequently requested in Mail
For additional details on macOS Mojave, make sure to check out our macOS Mojave roundup.

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave
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iOS 12.2 Suggests ECG App May Be Coming to UK and Other European Countries With watchOS 5.2

After installing iOS 12.2, some Apple Watch Series 4 owners in the UK are seeing new ECG screens that suggest ECG functionality will expand to the Apple Watch in the country when watchOS 5.2 is released.

MacRumors readers Sam and Chris have seen ECG setup screens in the Apple Watch and Health apps on the iPhone after installing iOS 12.2. The app is not, however, available on the Apple Watch in the UK right now because Apple hasn't yet released watchOS 5.2, which is likely required for the feature to work.


There's new documentation in the Health app in iOS 12.2 under ECG's "Instructions for Use" that also hints at upcoming support for the UK and other European countries:
  • For US Regions: The ECG app is available on Apple Watch Series 4 with watchOS 5.1.2 or later, paired with iPhone 5s or later or iOS 12.1.1 or later.
  • For non-US regions: The ECG app is available on Apple Watch Series 4 with watchOS 5.2 paired with iPhone 5s or iOS 12.2 or later.
There's also a new CE mark for the ECG feature in iOS 12.2 in the same document, which, as 9to5Mac points out, indicates that Apple may be planning to expand ECG functionality to all European Economic Area countries that use the CE certification mark.




It's not yet clear when Apple will launch watchOS 5.2, but with iOS 12.2 already available, it could be coming in the near future. Apple has not updated the list of countries where ECG features are available, but it could be changed once watchOS 5.2 sees a release.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Tag: ECG
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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AirPower Pictured on Retail Box for AirPods Wireless Charging Case

Another reference to AirPower was discovered on Monday, this time in relation to Apple's new AirPods range. The photo below was sent to MacRumors and shows Apple's long-delayed wireless charging mat on the back of the box for the new Wireless Charging Case for AirPods, which Apple announced last week. The image has since been verified by other Twitter users who have received their charging case orders early.


The Wireless Charging Case packaging clearly shows the distinct pill-shaped outline of the AirPower charging mat externally powered by what appears to be a USB-C or Lightning cable, indicating that the yet-to-be-released device can be used to charge AirPods using the wireless-compatible charging case.


Apple launched its new second-generation AirPods on Wednesday, and customers who ordered them on the same day are expecting deliveries between March 26-27. The new AirPods are available with a wired charging case for $159 or with a Wireless Charging Case for $199. Apple is also selling the Wireless Charging Case separately for $79, so that existing owners of first-generation AirPods can charge their earbuds wirelessly using Qi-compatible charging mats. The new AirPods will be available at Apple Stores and select resellers later this week.

Last week, MacRumors uncovered what appears to be a new Apple product image of the AirPower with an iPhone XS and the new AirPods with Wireless Charging Case on it. MacRumors has also uncovered evidence to suggest that Apple has secured the rights to the AirPower trademark in the United States.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple approved production of the AirPower earlier this year, and reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said the AirPower will be released within the first half of 2019. According to Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, Apple plans to release its long-awaited wireless charging mat AirPower in "late March."

AirPower is designed to charge multiple Apple devices at once, including the iPhone 8 and newer, Apple Watch Series 3 and newer, and AirPods when they are placed in the new optional wireless charging case.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)
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Apple's New Wire-Free 'Powerbeats Pro' Pop Up in iOS 12.2

Last week, CNET shared a new rumor suggesting Apple is working on a pair of wire-free Powerbeats Wireless Earphones designed for workouts, similar in design to the AirPods. Today, those new earbuds, called the Powerbeats Pro, were spotted in iOS 12.2.

The iOS 12.2 update, which was released following Apple's event, has an image of the Powerbeats Pro discovered by 9to5Mac, giving us our first glimpse at what Apple's Beats-branded wire-free earbuds will look like.


The Powerbeats Pro show no wire between them and are housed in a Beats-branded charging case that will provide power and a place to store the Powerbeats when not in use. It appears the Powerbeats Pro will be available in both black and white.

It's not clear when Apple plans to release the Powerbeats Pro, but with imagery available in iOS 12.2, they could come relatively soon.

CNET says the new earbuds could include the H1 chip that's in Apple's recently released second-generation AirPods, and while not mentioned, it's possible the Powerbeats will also support wireless Qi charging.

The new Powerbeats could also offer better bass and water resistance than the AirPods, as well as the ability to stay in the ears during rigorous activity.

If that's the case, the Powerbeats could also be compatible with the long-awaited AirPower, which rumors suggest is supposed to be launching soon.

There's no word on what the new Powerbeats will cost. Apple priced the new AirPods with Wireless Charging Case at $199, and current Powerbeats also cost $199, so the price could stay the same or increase to match the AirPods price increase.

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Fourth-Generation 1080p Apple TV Gets a New 'Apple TV HD' Name

Following the announcement of Apple's upcoming revamped TV app and new Apple TV+ subscription service for original content, Apple today updated the branding on its fourth-generation 2015 1080p Apple TV set-top box, renaming it "Apple TV HD."

The new Apple TV HD is being offered alongside the more expensive Apple TV 4K, which is the fifth-generation Apple TV released in 2017.


Apple has continued selling the 32GB $149 fourth-generation Apple TV alongside the 4K model for those who don't need 4K content. The Apple TV 4K is $30 more expensive, starting at $179 for 32GB of storage.

Both the Apple TV 4K and the rebranded Apple TV HD will provide access to the revamped TV app, which will house Apple's upcoming Apple TV+ subscription service for its original content and offer access to TV "Channels" right within the TV app.

With the redesigned TV app, you won't need to swap between different TV apps to access your favorite shows, as your subscriptions to services like HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, and Noggin and will let you watch content from those services in the TV app. If you're not already a subscriber, you can even subscribe to those "Channels" in the TV app.

Apple TV Channels will be limited to a handful of cable channels at launch, though Apple plans to add more in the future. Hulu and Netflix will not be participating, so you will still need to open up the Hulu and Netflix apps to watch that content.

The updated TV app will be even better at recommending content to you that you might want to watch, and it will incorporate more than 150 streaming apps, including Amazon Prime, Hulu, and all of the Apple TV Channels for personalization and content recommendation purposes. As mentioned above, some of the content will be watchable right in the TV app, while other content will bring you to a third-party app.

The TV app will be home to Apple's TV+ service, which is launching this fall. TV+ will offer up access to all of Apple's original programming, and the company has more than 30 shows in the works.

Apple plans to introduce its revamped Apple TV app through an iOS and tvOS update coming this May. Apple also plans to bring the TV app to the Mac this fall.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)
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