There was once a time where the idea of Apple putting its content, apps, and services on other platforms would never cross anyone's mind. Today, Apple TV is everywhere.
Apple TV is on the Apple TV box, of course. That's where it's always been. And iPhones and Macs and iPads and the web and one day, probably, on an Apple Watch. And it's on TVs. And Amazon streaming sticks. And game consoles. And on anything Apple can get someone to install it on.
And it's all just so ... alien. At least to those of us old enough to remember when Apple used its services to make sure people never left its walled garden.
Now, sure. Apple still has iMessage that does a pretty good job of making sure people stay with iPhones. But things started to change when Apple Music made its debut on Android's Google Play Store. It still seems weird, but it happened. And the floodgates opened.
Nowadays, mid-way through 2021, Apple's stuff is everywhere. Apple TV+ content, iTunes movies and TV shows, its music streaming service, and music bought via iTunes are all available on non-Apple platforms. To put that into perspective, it wasn't so long ago that you couldn't watch Apple's iPhone announcements if you didn't own an Apple device. I'm not even joking – it was Safari or nothing.
But Apple's services business isn't what it once was. It's no longer a way to keep people tethered to Apple and is instead just another way for Apple to make money. If people insist on using Android phones, they might as well give Apple $10 each month to listen to its music. People really don't want to buy an Apple TV 4K? No problem, Apple will take their $4.99 per month and let them watch on their crappy smart TV instead.
The idea of an Apple TV app running on the Nvidia Shield – of all things! – would have been insane just a few short years ago. Call me an old romantic, but who knows – maybe it gives us all hope that one day, on an indefinite timescale, we'll see iMessage break free of Apple's chains as well.
None of this is to say people shouldn't buy an Apple TV 4K of course. It's still the best way to watch content and there are some Apple TV 4K deals to be had, too.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.