In a radical departure from Apple's normal exclusivity, some of Samsung's 2018 and 2019 Smart TV models will soon get an app enabling access to iTunes movies and TV shows, and AirPlay 2 compatibility to boot. [Updated with news on other brands]
The iTunes app will come preloaded on 2019 TVs, and to 2018 models in the form of a firmware update, Samsung said. It should be accessible in over 100 countries, and people will be able to buy or rent any title including 4K HDR selections. The app will even have hooks for Bixby, Samsung's proprietary voice assistant.
"We look forward to bringing the iTunes and AirPlay 2 experience to even more customers around the world through Samsung Smart TVs, so iPhone, iPad and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favorite content on the biggest screen in their home," wrote Eddy Cue, Apple's senior VP of Internet Software and Services.
Until now Apple has kept access to iTunes video firmly within its walls, limiting it almost entirely to first-party hardware, the exception being Windows PCs.
The company may be opening things up in anticipation of its upcoming streaming service, set to debut sometime this year with a slate of $1 billion or more in original programming. Limiting access to Apple devices would likely make it hard to turn a profit, assuming the company goes forward with rumored subscription plans. Apple-owned shows may be free to watch on the company's platforms.
On AirPlay 2, Samsung explained that people will be able to push photos and video to TVs, not just audio. To date third-party AirPlay 2 support has been mostly constrained to speakers and receivers.
Update: Apple says that AirPlay 2 will be "coming soon" to TVs by other manufacturers as well, and that people will be able to use Siri commands like "Play 'Blade Runner 2049' in the Living Room." Samsung is aiming to debut support this spring.
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