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New Apple-exclusive interface arrives in ABC streaming TV revamp

In a move to appeal to cable cutters, ABC has refreshed its streaming video service with a new user interface designed specifically for Apple's iOS and tvOS, as well as more on-demand content and an expansion of markets eligible for a local live feed.

The new interface on the ABC app is cleaner than the previous version of the app, with programming curated into "popular," "drama," "reality," "funny," "news," "throwback," and "on the table" categories. The interface and preview images for content vary somewhat between the iPhone and iPad versions, with the iPhone forcing a portrait view for program selection, and a switch to landscape for video playback.

The app supports picture-in-picture viewing on compatible devices. The interface for fourth-generation Apple TV mirrors that of the iPad's, with the same images used for previews.

New programming is still available the day after it airs for subscribers with login credentials from a supported pay TV service. Older episodes are available to all app users, with or without a cable subscription, on a timetable for release depending on the show.

Unskippable ads are played for users on all content, regardless of the user's status as a cable subscriber. Initial AppleInsider trials with the app are seeing some Spanish-language advertisements interspersed with English, and no obvious way to toggle a language choice in the application.

ABC's decision to partner exclusively with Apple has precedent — the Disney-owned broadcast network has historically been quick to embrace new Apple services and platforms. Laurene Powell Jobs is the company's largest shareholder, and Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger serves on Apple's board of directors.

For the relaunch of the app, ABC has added seven new shows for streaming with 40 more in the production pipeline. The new streaming-only shows, plus the network's back catalog of programming available on the app do not require users to sign into a pay TV service prior to viewing.

The new shows added to the ABC streaming lineup are "All My Gay Friends are Getting Married," "Boondoggle," "Forever 31," Tastemade's "Get Cookin'," "I Can Find $3000 In Your Home,"Newborn Moms," and "On The Record."

Full seasons of the network's past shows include "8 Simple Rules," "Benched," "Betrayal," "Body of Proof," "Brothers & Sisters," "Commander in Chief," "Detroit," "Dinosaurs," "Dirty Sexy Money," "Ellen," "Felicity," "FlashForward," "Happy Town," "Hope and Faith," "I Survived a Japanese Game Show," "The Knights of Prosperity," "Less Than Perfect," "Manhattan Love Story," "Mixology," "My Generation," "My So-Called Life," "The Neighbors," "October Road," "Off the Map," "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," "Perception," "Reaper," "Red Band Society," "The River," "Samantha Who?," "School House Rock," "Secret Millionaire," "Smart Guy," "Sports Night," "Trophy Wife," "Ugly Betty," and "What About Brian." Not all shows on the service have entire broadcast runs available.

Also with this update, the network live feed is available for users of the ABC app in Albuquerque - Santa Fe (KOAT), Boston (WCVB and WMUR), Fort Smith/Fayetteville/Springdale/Rogers (KHBS), Jackson, MS (WAPT), Kansas City (KMBC), Milwaukee (WISN), Monterey-Salinas (KSBW-DT2), Oklahoma City (KOCO), Omaha (KETV), Pittsburgh (WTAE), Portland-Auburn (WMTW), Savannah (WJCL), and West Palm Beach-Ft Pierce (WPBF).

"Our team has completely re-imagined the digital viewing experience for ABC fans," said Karin Gilford, SVP of Digital Media, ABC Television Network. "In addition to the current ABC shows that fans know and love, we are introducing new ABCd original digital series that are fun, fresh and perfect for mobile, and we are making full seasons of all-time favorite shows available for binging. Fans on Apple devices will benefit from a dynamic new interface that makes it easier to find shows. All of this allows us to expand beyond the bounds of our linear schedule and extend ABC storytelling to viewers across screens and platforms."

For mobile users, the new ABC app requires 60.2MB of device storage, and iOS 8.0. The app is also available for the fourth generation Apple TV.