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Plex this week began testing TV app integration on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, as spotted by MacRumors readers Casey Bailey and Will Sigmon. The feature is available in the latest beta version of the Plex app through TestFlight.

apple-tv-app-plex.jpg

This integration will enable users to keep track of Plex's on-demand content in Apple's TV app across the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Plex's on-demand content will be recommended in the TV app and also sync with a user's Up Next queue. Plex joins dozens of other providers offering TV app integration in the United States, such as HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, HGTV, NBC, A&E, The CW, MTV, Showtime, Starz, and others.

Plex is a popular media player that in recent years has introduced a growing library of free, ad-supported TV shows, movies, and other content from providers such as Warner Bros., Crackle, Lionsgate, MGM, and Legendary Entertainment. It is only this on-demand content that will be integrated in the TV app, and not a user's personal library of locally stored content, according to a Reddit user identifying as a Plex employee.

"This feature will only work with our free on demand movies and TV shows," the employee said. "We'd love to integrate personal media as well but that's not technically possible for a couple reasons. To make this work we provide Apple with a list of content we have available for streaming. As detailed in our privacy policy, we don't know what content our users have in their personal media libraries."



TV app integration will require version 7.14 of the Plex app or later, currently in beta testing. There is no timeframe for a public release yet.

Update: This article has been updated with clarification from a Plex employee that TV app integration will be limited to Plex's free, ad-supported video content from partners like Warner Bros., Crackle, and Lionsgate.

Article Link: Plex Testing TV App Integration Across iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV
 
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ersan191

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Oct 26, 2013
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I've gotten pretty accustomed to the customization you get on the Plex home screen, this is gonna be a hard sell for me but I guess we'll see how it goes.
 

Juicy Box

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I love Plex, and might give this a try when it is live, but I don't use the TV app very much.

About once or twice a year I mess around with the TV app, but the UI is just horrible. I would much rather use Plex's UI than accessing my content via the TV app.

Maybe there have been improvements since last time I gave the TV app a try.
 

Lemon Olive

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This is awesome! I thought it wasn't possible for some reason. I wonder when Netflix will cave. I've actually forgotten to watch stuff on Netflix because it's not in the Up Next.

This is awesome, but when is Netflix going to support it? I literally want to stop using Netflix because it’s so irritating when every other app supports TV
I remember emailing Eddy Cue years ago when the TV was first launched, complaining that not having Netflix (and some others at the time) made it a really poor effort given how strongly they were pitching it.

He actually responded, and seemed confident all would be well with some time. Well, that never materialized. Without Netflix, the TV is missing like 50% of the content any given user cares about. It makes it not what it intends to be. It needs to have everything, or its purpose is missed. And it certainly can't be missing the single biggest source.
 

Lemon Olive

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I love Plex, and might give this a try when it is live, but I don't use the TV app very much.

About once or twice a year I mess around with the TV app, but the UI is just horrible. I would much rather use Plex's UI than accessing my content via the TV app.

Maybe there have been improvements since last time I gave the TV app a try.
Yeah I'm going to have to wait and see how it looks.

Apple pivoted on the TV app, turning it from the passive content collection app it was intended to be, to an advertising platform for Apple+ and whatever partner content they deem appropriate for you to be watching.

Other than the top row for Up Next, I rarely bother to venture deeper because they ruined it.

If anything about the TV App were intended to be user-empowering, there would be features like:
1. Ability to filter the content displayed to the sources you approve.
2. Ability to display content by channel/source instead of their arbitrary algorithms.
3. Ability to turn off all their advertising.
4. Ability to see A-Z lists of sources.
 
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jhollington

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I'm cautiously hopeful about this, as I'm also a bit skeptical that it will actually tie into our actual personal Plex libraries... Due to the way that the TV app traditionally works — leveraging online catalogues from streaming providers — I have a feeling that this might just be for Plex's own free movie and TV show collections.

Unless Apple has made a significant change to the TV providers API under the hood in iOS 14.5, there's simply nowhere for local Plex library data to be stored for the TV app to use.

I'm on the Plex TestFlight and iOS 14.5 beta as well, but I'm not seeing the integration being offered up yet on any of my devices, so either it's U.S. only right now, or it's only being rolled out to some users via a back-end switch.
 

Dorv

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Feb 11, 2008
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I love Plex, and might give this a try when it is live, but I don't use the TV app very much.

About once or twice a year I mess around with the TV app, but the UI is just horrible. I would much rather use Plex's UI than accessing my content via the TV app.

Maybe there have been improvements since last time I gave the TV app a try.
The big thing for the TV app for me is just Up Next. I like when I have a new show to watch, it's just up there in the Top Shelf waiting.
 

jhollington

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Sep 23, 2008
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I love Plex, and might give this a try when it is live, but I don't use the TV app very much.

About once or twice a year I mess around with the TV app, but the UI is just horrible. I would much rather use Plex's UI than accessing my content via the TV app.

Maybe there have been improvements since last time I gave the TV app a try.
There haven't really been any. About the only reason I use the TV app is for stuff that isn't already in my own Plex library, such as Apple TV+ content and Apple TV Channels providers. The unified interface is preferable to digging through multiple streaming apps, and the Apple TV Channels is especially nice as it all stays within the TV app, it supports spatial audio and offline viewing, and it's available for family sharing too.

I'll occasionally venture into the TV app to watch something from my own iTunes library as well, as I've purchased terabytes of shows and movies over the years, but I also have all of that in Plex as well, so the main advantage to using the TV app is slightly better resolution (my Plex copies are 720p), and spatial audio — but that's only available when I'm using my iPad.

However, Plex is hands-down the better user experience on just about every level.
 
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jhollington

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The big thing for the TV app for me is just Up Next. I like when I have a new show to watch, it's just up there in the Top Shelf waiting.
The "On Deck" in Plex offers something similar, although obviously only for stuff that's on Plex. Sadly, I have found the top shelf a bit buggy on the Apple TV — when it appears it works great, but sometimes it doesn't show up at all.
 

CJ Dorschel

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I'm on the Plex TestFlight and iOS 14.5 beta as well, but I'm not seeing the integration being offered up yet on any of my devices, so either it's U.S. only right now, or it's only being rolled out to some users via a back-end switch.
Same here and I live between NY and Berlin. Haven’t seen it Stateside or in Germany. Hoping it’s just a rolling out issue (with time and not some users as that would suck). 🤷🏼‍♂️
 

k27

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Jan 23, 2018
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Plex this week ...
On the one hand MacRumors pretends that privacy is important. But then MacRumors advertises Plex (and also WhatsApp, etc), although Plex is also rather questionable from this point of view and requires an Internet connection including registration. Or has something changed here?
Emby is in my eyes from this point of view the better alternative. Or you can go directly to Jellyfin (Emby Fork - OpenSource).
 

RoboCop001

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I remember emailing Eddy Cue years ago when the TV was first launched, complaining that not having Netflix (and some others at the time) made it a really poor effort given how strongly they were pitching it.

He actually responded, and seemed confident all would be well with some time. Well, that never materialized. Without Netflix, the TV is missing like 50% of the content any given user cares about. It makes it not what it intends to be. It needs to have everything, or its purpose is missed. And it certainly can't be missing the single biggest source.
I remember there being something about Netflix not wanting to do it so that they don't share viewer habits/interests with Apple. I don't know how true that is, but I mean... how does that even matter?? lol. They're just stubborn. In my personal case, it would increase my Netflix viewing. If Apple creates a show that is better than a Netflix show, that's Netflix's fault. No amount of viewing habit data will change that.
 

Lemon Olive

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Now that I think about it, Plex does have their "own" content that they provide besides the user library. This is probably just for that content. :(

It's unlikely anything significant has changed for Apple to start allowing user supplied content to start infiltrating the TV app.
 

Lemon Olive

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I remember there being something about Netflix not wanting to do it so that they don't share viewer habits/interests with Apple. I don't know how true that is, but I mean... how does that even matter?? lol. They're just stubborn. In my personal case, it would increase my Netflix viewing. If Apple creates a show that is better than a Netflix show, that's Netflix's fault. No amount of viewing habit data will change that.
It really makes you wonder what Netflix actually values about its users. From a user perspective, integration with the TV app would only increase usage of Netflix. For Netflix to ignore this obvious benefit because they perceive a bigger loss that relates to user data is really quite scary.
 
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jhollington

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Now that I think about it, Plex does have their "own" content that they provide besides the user library. This is probably just for that content. :(

It's unlikely anything significant has changed for Apple to start allowing user supplied content to start infiltrating the TV app.
Exactly, and it's not even about "allowing" apps to do that, per se. Apple would have to make a fundamental change to the TV app to either provide a way for user-specific catalog storage — presumably by syncing the Plex library database into iCloud — or the TV app would be stuck querying the Plex app/server directly. Both of these would be pretty big changes.

At this point, the TV app is based entirely on global catalogs of shows and movies available to everybody — at least everybody in a given country.
 

jhollington

macrumors 6502
Sep 23, 2008
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I remember there being something about Netflix not wanting to do it so that they don't share viewer habits/interests with Apple. I don't know how true that is, but I mean... how does that even matter?? lol. They're just stubborn. In my personal case, it would increase my Netflix viewing. If Apple creates a show that is better than a Netflix show, that's Netflix's fault. No amount of viewing habit data will change that.
Yeah, I think it's mostly corporate intransigence on their part, and it may also be partly about some arrogance about maintaining their own brand identity. Netflix wants to be seen at "Netflix" and not just another option within the Apple ecosystem.

I don't think Netflix would lose much demographic information, since even despite Apple's strict privacy policies, you'd still have to open the Netflix app to actually watch something. Mostly they might just lose some of the data they collect on browsing and searching habits, which I suppose in today's world of navel-gazing analytics could still be a pretty big downside.

That said, they would be sharing some of that data with Apple, but I can't see that being nearly as big of a concern, at least not on anything more than just the sheer principle of maintaining their own closed fiefdom.
 
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Lemon Olive

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Exactly, and it's not even about "allowing" apps to do that, per se. Apple would have to make a fundamental change to the TV app to either provide a way for user-specific catalog storage — presumably by syncing the Plex library database into iCloud — or the TV app would be stuck querying the Plex app/server directly. Both of these would be pretty big changes.

At this point, the TV app is based entirely on global catalogs of shows and movies available to everybody — at least everybody in a given country.
I haven't looked into it directly, but each app that is integrated has to have some sort of live link to Apple so that when content is updated, there is no lapse in the integration.

So as you said, Plex would need to be doing this on behalf of the user to Apple, or directly from a local Plex server to Apple, neither of which seem likely at all. Apple isn't going to want to deal with that.

And for it to even work would be dependent on user content meta data being extremely high quality. I don't know how Apple deals with differing meta data from different apps that provide content, but its probably required to be a 90% match or better with Apple's source for the same content.
 
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