Jonathan Reed

Fitness+ One Month Later →

Let it be said that I believe Fitness+ is a fantastic service and one of Apple's best version 1 releases in many years. It's straightforward to use, aesthetically tremendous and is very much using the best of Apple's positive talents. I've been doing rowing, core, strength, HIIT and mindful Cooldown workouts and my girlfriend has tried yoga as well. If you've investigated the dance workout, let me know; that looks intense and way beyond my drunk wedding-dance skills!

However, I think there's some great things Apple could add to make this service a world-beater. I wanted to look at how they might do this without changing the service's fundamental drive, which is 'everyone welcome'.

Starting off on the right foot

So let's start with the positives. I've been using Fitness+ every day to keep active while London is in yet another lockdown. We live in a flat without a garden so it's very easy not to do anything day to day. The ease of being able to turn on the TV or open the iPad, open the app and with only a few taps launch a workout, cannot be understated.

The wide variety of workouts are fantastic. As are the trainers. I wondered, as a classic lowkey Brit, whether the trainers would be a bit too ‘positive’. They are certainly smiley and cheerful, but in your face and annoying they are not. Some are genuinely funny and really make you feel part of the team. Oh, and Kim is from my area of London! They also cameo in each other's workouts. I’d be interested to see who does it most (my money’s on Greg), and how they organise it. Is there a sign up sheet at the Fitness+ Studios?

The music is also good. As a bit of a music snob I was worried I'd have to listen to a lot of annoying pop or mind-numbing dance but it's all been good vibes so far. And you can't beat a rowing sprint to Song 2 by Blur!

The integration with the watch is also good. The trainers call out your heart rate, Burn Bar or rings quite often which gives you a great push and as a competitive person, that Burn Bar is a great addition.

As someone who's pretty fit (or used to be before COVID!), most of the workouts a quite challenging and allow me to push myself. I say 'most of the workouts' - I'll get into that later. For someone who is less fit the modifications by the other trainers on screen are a great addition.

Small observations

The trainers are closing their rings too! I've spotted several in the background tapping their watches just before they start.

All the trainers use American Sign Language at beginning and end. While hard of hearing users will have subtitles on, this isn't even needed, it's just another great addition to make you feel part of the 'crew'.

While they have a set workout, there doesn't seem to be a script. They’re very relaxed with what they say. It doesn’t feel awkward and silent but also doesn’t feel forced. They have natural charisma and are great to have with you.

They sweat! This helps as being shouted at by very attractive, smiling, toned people is not fun if they don't struggle too. Knowing they're going through what you're going through really motivates you. Rowing trainer Josh (my favourite trainer) often has to stop speaking for a few seconds to catch his breath!

Well that's a surprise

I think the biggest surprise (mostly since they've thought about including ASL gestures) is that there are no workouts for users that are less able-bodied. Every single workout requires the use of your arms and legs. Apple has made fantastic progress for accessibility on iOS and Mac over recent years so this surprised me. It surely wouldn't have taken much to do some wheelchair/seated workouts.

Continue reading on small bites >>>

Jonathan Reed

Apple TV+ Development Round-up 18th Jan

Apple TV+ has a lot of shows and movies in development, with new announcements coming quite regularly.

Here’s all the news from the last week:

Apple Studios is fully funding and producing ‘Kitbag’, a biopic of Napoleon starring Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role and directed by Ridley Scott. Production starts in 2022 and this is not part of the deal Apple has with Scott Free Productions which only covers TV series.

Andy Samberg is teaming up again with Palm Springs writer Andy Siara on a sci-fi comedy based on an idea by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (BoJack Horseman). As if that wasn’t enough talent it will be co-produced by Ben Stiller and Noah Hawley (Fargo & Legion creator).

Kevin MacDonald & Lisa Erspamer (Whitney) are re-teaming for a two part documentary on Oprah Winfrey covering 25 years of America through the eyes of Winfrey and her show. MacDonald will direct. Erspamer worked with Winfrey on ‘Oprah’ for 10 years.

Geoffrey Arend has joined the cast of the forthcoming Dramedy ‘Physical’, starring Rose Byrne.

9 more people have been added to the cast of TV+ series ‘Swagger’, the basketball drama from NBA star Kevin Durrant, inspired by his youth.

Ji-young Yoo has been added to the cast of Apple’s latest collaboration with A24, ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’. Based on the YA novel, it also stars Cherry Jones and Jason Segel.

Sigmund Judge

Apple TV+ Free Trials Extended for Active Subscribers Granting Free Access Until July 2021

9to5Mac's Benjamin Mayo has the exclusive details:

Any current customers with free trials set to end in the February to June period will now see those subscription renewals pushed out to July. Similarly, customers with an annual subscription that expires between February and June will also get the same additional months of service at no additional charge. Apple will notify all eligible customers of the extension via email in the next couple of weeks. Like last time, the company will be compensating existing subscribers with credit refunds.

Apple One bundle customers will also see their accounts credited, though its unclear right now if that will be for the full $4.99 per month - the amount associated with an individual subscription.

All in all this is fantastic news for Apple TV+ and its subscribers, giving customers more free access, whilst giving Jamie Elricht, Zack van Amburg and company more time to expand upon an already captivating catalogue of entertainment in a time which has seen sets open and close with regularity due to the current global pandemic.

Sigmund Judge

Up Next: This Week's Apple TV Releases

Servant

Apple TV+ | S2, E1 | 26 min | TV-MA

M.Night Shyamalan's brooding, darkly comedic thriller returns for more twists and turns with its second season. It really doesnt feel safe to say anything about my favourite Apple TV+ show's first season for fear of spoiling even a second for those who have yet to succumb to the show's cult-like status. Recently renewed for a third season, there's no doubt in my mind that there will be yet more questions asked than answers given. French director Julia Ducournau ('Raw') takes the helm for the seasons opening half hour titled 'Doll'.

Dickinson

Apple TV+ | S2, E4 | 32 min |TV-14

Following it's glorious season 2 debut last week, Emily Dickinson returns with the wonderfully titled 'The Daisy follows soft the Sun'. After some time without news from Sam, Emily begins to suffer from writer’s block. To rediscover her inspiration, she ventures into the landscape.

Other Apple TV Highlights:

Promising Young Woman

TV App | Rental | 1 hr 53 min | R

The directorial debut of the magnificently named Emerald Fennell (Killing Eve) comes in the form of a rape-revenge thriller with a blackly comic underbelly. Starring Carey Mulligan in her funniest and equally scariest role as a woman on the hunt. While still early on in the awards season, Promising Young Woman has already taken over 40 nominations and 8 awards from various critics associations from around the globe.

WandaVision

Disney+ | S1, E1-2 | TV-PG

Disney debuts its first Marvel Cinematic Universe episodic television series and it's anything but what you've come to expect; imaginative, experimental and straight up weird comedy. Wanda sports reality-bending and telekinetic powers, whereas Vision is a robot who can fly and both struggle to keep up appearances for the neighbours!

One Night in Miami...

Prime Video | 1 hr 54 min | R

Adapted from a stage play by Kemp Powers which fictionalizes the night of Feb. 25th, 1964, in Miami, where Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcom X discuss the responsibility of being successful black men during the civil rights movement. The film is already receiving high praise for Regina King's direction, performances from its lead cast; Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr. and its screenplay.

Erica

App Store | AirPlay | Adventure | 17+

This interactive thriller from Flavourworks comes to iOS following success on PlayStation. Whilst its dissapointing to see yet another console title skip on a direct port to Apple TV you miss this gem of a game at your peril. A cryptic story with incredible writing, crisp cinematography and a mesmerizing score from Austin Wintory. Erica is free to try with a $2.99 full game unlock.

Search Party

HBO Max | S4, E1-3 | TV-MA

Comedy turned psychological thriller, the show's fourth season explores themes of murder, grief and trauma whilst also taking a satirical look at showbiz and the media. Following three seasons of stress-induced circumstance culminating in a court-room drama, sometimes boyfriend Drew, Chip and Portia move on with their lives, unaware that Dory is trapped in a basement by an obsessed stalker.

Locked Down

HBO Max| 1 hr 58 min | R

If you've ever stopped for a moment during this rotten last 12 months and thought about planning a heist, the latest HBO Max streaming/theatrical release is for you. Set in London, this heist drama rom-com starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor reminds us all that sometimes to survive lockdown we all have to go a little crazy from time to time.


Apple Arcade Updates:



Beyond a Steel Sky

Apple Arcade | Adventure | 12 +

Developer Revolution Software has made a number of improvements to the games controls, stability and improved performance on Apple TV HD. An added bonus comes in the form of a special commentary from visionary Charles Cecil and the team.

Dear Reader

Apple Arcade | Puzzle | 12 +

This wonderful puzzler that turns your favourite books into clever world puzzles, including 88 literary classics has rolled out a number of improvements including Apple's new Access Point interface for getting to Game Center quickly and some small text edits and tweaks.

Lego Brawls

Apple Arcade | Action | 9 +

This lighthearted team action brawler entered a brand new season this week with a new western-influenced theme with new mini-figs to unlock along with a new weekly ranking system for each and every level.

Little Orpheus

Apple Arcade | Adventure | 4 +

Ivan Ivanovich returns in brand new episode 'A Rush Of Onion To The Head’. This time Ivan regales his hairy compatriot, Laika, about his journey through the mythical cloud city of Perun.

Marble Knights

Apple Arcade | Adventure | 9 +

One of the best multiplayer games on Apple Arcade adds two new mini games for 1-4 player action. Players can experience a new spin on 2-on-2 basketball in O.R.B. Jam whilst you can now also cooperate or compete with other players to knock down 100 pins in bowling!

Reigns Beyond

Apple Arcade | Card | 12 +

Devolver Digital have been listening to feedback from players of their intergalactic indie rock card game, delivering a number of welcome improvements; easier and less frequent spaceship fights, new unlockable objectives and the dreaded speakers curse now removed.

Speed Demons

Apple Arcade | Racing | 12 +

Infuriating difficult at times, Radiangames 'Speed Demons' can now thankfully restore games from version 1.3 and previous versions as-well-as restore deleted game saves from version 1.4.2 and later. A new retro-style control system has also been added allowing for relative steering.

Jonathan Reed

Season 2 of Servant Now Available

The first episode of Servant season 2 is now available to watch on Apple TV+. The subsequent 9 episodes will premiere every Friday.

From M. Night Shyamalan, Servant follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.

This marks the second headline show to premiere new episodes on TV+ following Dickinson last week. For All Mankind returns on February 19th. Servant has already been renewed for season 3.

Watch Servant season 2.

Sigmund Judge

Apple TV+ Website Receives First Notable Improvements Since Launch

Apple TV+ has made a number of notable improvements to its web user interface, making browsing content far easier for those using windows PC's, Android devices or versions of MacOS that pre-date Catalina. As discovered by fellow Apple TV aficiando, podcast guest and friend of the site, Benjamin Mayo for 9to5Mac:

As of today’s overhaul, the new TV+ website homepage features the same featured header that you see in the Apple TV app, along with sections for latest releases and genre categories. This makes it feel much more familiar for customers who are used to the native TV app experience.
It’s a good step in the right direction for the service. Nevertheless, tablestakes feature are still missing like the ability to resume from where you left off, see your Up Next queue, or even a search bar. The actual web playback experience and show detail pages are also unchanged as of this update, which is unfortunate. Hopefully, more updates are set to roll out in the coming months.

You can access Apple TV+ through any web-browser by visiting tv.apple.com which requires a credit-card on file for authentication purposes. Whilst we still hold out hope, Apple have made no public mention of any plans to bring the full TV app experience to the web.

Sigmund Judge

Apple Publish Debut Trailer for ‘Cherry’

Following a sneak peak first look last week, Apple have today shared the first trailer for the Russo Brothers 'Cherry'. The upcoming epic is an odyssey of romance, war, drug addiction, and crime that sees a young man struggle to find his place in the world. The Apple Original Film reunites the directing duo with MCU star Tom Holland pairing him alongside feature film debutant Ciara Bravo as star-crossed lovers.

The highly anticipated award season hopeful will release in theaters on February 26th and exclusively on Apple TV+ March 12th. You can soon pre-add 'Cherry' to your up next queue by visiting https://apple.co/cherry.

Sigmund Judge

Apple TV+ in 2021, Part 2 - Sigmund’s Picks

Photos by Apple, Theo McInnes, Disney/Dan Doperalski

With so many projects noted by Jonathan in part 1 of our 2021 Apple TV+ preview, you’d be forgiven in thinking that I had been left slim pickings given the sheer breadth of potential within his list of upcoming original programming.

In reality, I had to slim down my list of brand new TV+ projects that I’m excited for in 2021, whilst also omitting second seasons of Ted Lasso, The Morning Show and upcoming features ‘Emancipation’ and ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ -  both now not expected to release until either end of 2022.

Here then, are my most anticipated Apple TV+ projects expected to make their debuts in 2021:

Cherry - From visionary directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and starring Marvel collaborator Tom Holland and feature debutant Ciara Bravo comes ‘Cherry’, the journey of a disenfranchised young man who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances. Inspired by the best selling novel of the same name by Nico Walker, the Russo brothers ‘End Game’ follow up is expected to be in contention this awards season and will debut its full trailer later this week in the lead up to its limited theatrical run on Feb 26th before debuting on Apple TV+ March 12th.


Losing Earth - The dramatised adaptation of Nathaniel Rich’s award winning New York Times Magazine story was purchased by Apple in a competitive situation all the way back in 2018. The story which is set between 1979 and 1989 focuses on a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians who tried unsuccessfully to save the world from climate change before it was too late.

The Sky is Everywhere - Starring Grace Kaufman, Cherry Jones and Jason Segel and directed by Josephine Decker is the latest feature film from Apple’s partnership with A24 and my most anticipated TV+ feature of the year. Based on the novel by Jandy Nelson - who also adapted the script - The Sky is Everywhere follows Lennie, a teen who  struggles to deal with the sudden loss of her older sister, becomes romantically involved with her sisters former fiancé and a new boy in town who shares her love of music - which may explain this on-set footage shot by a local by-stander.

Mr. Corman - Whilst little is known about the half hour comedy-drama series written, directed and produced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I’m a big fan of JGL and welcome his return to the small screen since co-starring on the long-running NBC hit comedy ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’. The upcoming A24 produced show follows the days and nights of a public schoolteacher in the San Fernando Valley. Pre-production for the show began at the tale-end of 2019 with the show likely to debut in the first half of 2021.

Foundation - Based on the award-winning, highly influential science fiction novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation chronicles a band of exiles on their journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization. Following the surprise of a debut trailer during last years WWDC keynote I began reading Isaac Asimov’s novels and found them to be a challenge. 'Foundation  is a plot driven story exploring empire building, politics, economics and social science. I’m very interested and excited to see how Executive Producers Robyn Asimov, David S.Goyer, Josh Friedman, Cameron Welsh, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross tackle the challenge of bringing Isaac Asimov’s story to a mainstream television audience.

Pachinko - Once again based on the bestselling book, the show chronicles the hopes and dreams of four generations of a Korean immigrant family. Beginning with a forbidden love and crescendoing into saga, the story takes place between Korea, Japan and America in a melting pot of war, peace, love, loss, triumph and reckoning. The series will be told in three languages: Korean, Japanese and English and stars Lee Min-Ho, Jin Ha, Anna Sawai, Minha Kim, Soji Arai, and Kaho Minami.

The Shrink Next Door - Likely the one and only Wondery podcast project to make it to Apple following the company’s recent acquisition by Amazon, ‘The Shrink Next Door’ tells the story of Isaac Herschkopf, a psychiatrist to the stars who abused his relationship with his patients to exploit them for personal gain. Starring 'Anchorman' co-stars Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Kathryn Hahn, this dark comedy really goes places and I cant wait to see the talent involved take it to a new level of crazy.

Prehistoric Planet - Produced by Jon Favreau and Planet Earth II’s Mike Gunton in conjunction with BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, the documentary series uses incredible CGI to tell the story of the final days of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Judging by the talent involved, this will be truly spectacular. The perfect candidate to debut Apple’s purported plans for augmented reality special features.

Last but not least, The Shining Girls - another adaptation coming to Apple TV+, this time courtesy of Elisabeth Moss and Appian Way. Set in depression era Chicago, a drifter finds a key to a house that opens on to other times which comes at a sinister cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women who burn with potential, stalking them and their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, a reporter named Kirby Mazrachi (Moss), survives and starts hunting him back. A big fan of Elisabeth Moss, its a real treat to see such a talent coming to Apple TV+ screens in this upcoming metaphysical thriller which the multiple award winning actress will also executive produce alongside Silka Luisa, novel author Lauren Beukes, Alan Page Arriaga, Lindsey McManus, Jennifer Davisson and Leonardo DiCaprio.

I think you will agree that Apple TV+ is in for a very exciting 2021 which we have detailed over seventeen cumulative picks. Of course this is by no means a complete list of whats coming during the streaming services second year, with many more surprises to be introduced over the course of the next 12 months.

Now that you know whats on our radars, we’d love to know whats on yours? Let us know on Twitter.