Over the past couple of years, Apple has shown a remarkable willingness to leave its closed hardware ecosystem behind, following an “embrace and extend” approach to ensure that its services can reach as many consumers as possible, whether they’re Apple users or not.
To be fair, it’s an approach that actually began five years ago when Apple Music launched with an accompanying Android app — the first time Apple had ever released a major app for the competing smartphone platform.
The message here of course was obvious — as popular as the iPhone already was at the time, Apple knew that it couldn’t hope to expect services like Apple Music to succeed if it tried to make them exclusive to its own hardware platforms.
While things remained fairly stagnant on the Apple services front for the next couple of years, Apple suddenly began ramping up its efforts to bring not only Apple Music, but other content-related services and features to as many third-party hardware platforms as possible. This began with Apple Music debuting on Amazon Alexa speakers, and continued into several major TV brands embracing AirPlay 2, plus HomeKit and even iTunes Movies and TV Shows.
Then of course came the debut of Apple TV+, which made it even more obvious why Apple was trying to join forces with as many smart TVs and set-top boxes as possible. Even Roku gained the Apple TV app, as did Amazon’s Fire TV, both just in time for the debut of Apple’s TV+ service.
So at this point it probably shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise that Apple is now ready to push its TV app out to an entirely new front: Microsoft’s Xbox.
Apple TV on Xbox
According to a new report from Windows Central, Microsoft and Apple are working to bring the official Apple TV app to Xbox game consoles, and in fact some members of the Xbox Insiders program have already seen the new app briefly appearing on their consoles.
While there don’t appear to be too many official details available, it’s reasonable to assume that the App will work in much the same way as it does on other platforms, allowing Xbox users to not only view programs on Apple TV+, but also offering the ability to rent or purchase and watch iTunes Store movies and TV shows, as well as access to Apple TV Channels.
Those users who have reported seeing the app appear on their Xbox did indicate that it wasn’t functional, and it didn’t even seem to stick around for all that long. While it’s unclear when it may actually arrive, Windows Central speculates that it could be tied to the release of the new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles on November 10th.
It’s also not entirely clear what Xbox models will be supported, although it seems unlikely that the new app would be exclusive only to the newest consoles, since of course the whole point is for Apple to extend the reach of its services as widely as possible.
While Windows Central considers the move a bit ironic considering Apple’s refusal to allow Project xCloud on the App Store, the reality is that Apple and Microsoft still retain a fairly congenial relationship. In fact Xbox chief Phil Spencer emphasized that the two tech giants still working together to try to figure out how to get Xbox Game Pass onto the App Store in a way that both can live with. In addition, Microsoft released a new Xbox app that at least allows direct game streaming from a user’s own console to an iPhone or iPad — something that easily falls within Apple’s guidelines.
It’s also worth noting that the addition of an Apple TV app to the Xbox doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be accompanied by support for other features such as AirPlay 2 and HomeKit.
While many smart TV makers have embraced all of these, they’re still technically separate features, and in fact with the exception of Samsung, no third-party device has actually implemented them all at the same time; most smart TVs started with AirPlay 2, while the Roku added the Apple TV app last year, and is only rolling out AirPlay 2 support now.