Watch the Season Premiere of Apple’s New ‘Planet of the Apps’ Series

"Planet of the Apps" premiered on Apple Music last night, and Apple has now made the first episode available to watch online for a limited time.


The season premiere featured the developers of Pair, Twist, and Companion, who each pitched their apps to influencers Gary Vaynerchuk, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, and will.i.am. The apps which make it to the final round of the show will receive up to $10 million in funding and featured placement in the App Store.

The overall theme of the show is comparable to Shark Tank, but with more of a reality TV spin like The Voice. The developers appear at the top of an escalator, make a brief pitch about their apps, and as long as they receive at least one "green light" from the judges, they can continue their pitch.

Variety called Planet of the Apps a "bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of Shark Tank" in its review, but noted the show is "not terrible."

Planet of the Apps, hosted by Beats 1 radio DJ Zane Lowe, will be released on a weekly basis through Apple Music.


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Eddy Cue Previews ‘Planet of the Apps’ at Code Conference: Non-Linear Viewing, Weekly Release, First Trailer and More

Eddy Cue, Apple's SVP of Internet Services, spoke at Code Conference tonight alongside Planet of the Apps producer Ben Silverman to preview the show and debut the first trailer from the program. Cue and Silverman also teased several unique aspects of the show, including a dedicated app that allows you to watch the show in a non-linear format.


The format of the show is similar to that of fellow talent-based reality shows The Voice and Shark Tank. Aspiring app developers descend down an escalator while pitching four judges on their idea. By the time they get to the bottom, the judges must swipe left or right to demonstrate whether they're interested. If multiple judges swipe right on a contestant, the contestant gets to choose who they want to pair with. Once paired, the developer goes through an incubator period, getting advise from developers at big companies like Uber, until it's ready enough to pitch to Lightspeed Venture Partners for funding.

Silverman and Cue say that the show will debut a new episode every week starting in the Spring, rather than dumping the entire season on a single date, as Netflix tends to do. The show will also have a dedicated app that'll allow viewers to watch the show in a non-linear format. Within the app, people will have the opportunity to pause the linear version of the show to access unused footage of specific developers.

Apple wasn't the first choice for the show, according to Silverman. The project was initially shopped around to the big networks. The show drew major interest, but Will.I.Am brought up the show to Jimmy Iovine while at a meeting with Apple in Los Angeles. Apple was interested, and Silverman and the rest of the producers slowed down the process with the networks to give Apple a chance at securing it for Apple Music.

When asked why a TV show about apps is debuting on Apple Music, Cue says that he believes video could a differentiator for the service. "We think we have an opportunity to do something unique with Apple Music and shows," Cue said. "The things we're doing aren't being done by anyone else. If we wanted to do something everyone else was doing, we might be better off buying something or whatever." He later clarified that shows on Apple Music don't have to be about music, similar to how MTV programming isn't always about music.


Cue says Apple is just starting out with original content, but that it wants to do more. When asked whether it could see itself becoming Netflix, Cue said Apple wants to see where it can go with its own strategy. Cue later emphasized that Apple doesn't just want to buy shows, denying that Apple was ever interested in purchasing The Grand Tour. Instead, Apple only wants to make shows that are unique and "create culture."

Silverman says that Apple's influence is the only reason he thinks Planet of the Apps could work, pointing out that developers and stars, like judges Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow, might not have signed onto the show if Apple had not been producing the show.

Planet of the Apps will not have ads. Cue says he's unsure if future Apple productions will have ads, but that he doesn't know of many people who actually watch ads when they're watching programming. Cue says a lot of people either watch shows on streaming services or purchase or rent them from places like iTunes, bypassing the ads of regular TV.

Cue also talked about the future of TV. When asked what the big roadblock for Apple was when it was planning its rumored TV service, Cue said discoverability and the complexity of the TV industry. Cue said the TV app is one way to help customers find the content they want to watch without jumping into various services. Cue also says industries are reticent to change, and that people in the industry aren't yet moving in the same direction, making it difficult for Apple to put what it wants to do together. However, Cue says Apple is not interested in pursuing a skinny bundle. In 2015, the CEOs of Time Warner and CBS said Apple was working on a "forward-thinking" streaming service.


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Filming of Apple’s Upcoming ‘Planet of the Apps’ Series Has Finished

Apple has finished filming Planet of the Apps, an unscripted series about apps and the talented developers who make them, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous due to the person's involvement with the show. Principal filming took place on an Apple-built set near Hollywood, the source said.

Apple built the set and tore it down at the conclusion of filming. The set was absolutely beautiful and set up in a way like no other competition show I've seen before. It's very tech chic, with beautiful decor and decorations. Only Apple could do it this way. It's very, very well done. Steve Jobs would have been proud of the set.
Planet of the Apps, produced by Ben Silverman, Howard Owens, and William Adams, better known as will.i.am, will have a competitive theme that draws some comparisons to reality TV shows such as Shark Tank and The Voice, the source said. It was a "very stressful" but "exhilarating" process, the person added.

Apple posted an open casting call for the show in July 2016, looking for developers from San Francisco, Austin, New York, and Los Angeles to participate, and it began selecting developers around November. Over 100,000 apps applied to be on the show, and only 100 were selected for filming, a person familiar with the matter said.

The developers selected to appear on the show met with and received direct mentorship from four influencers and entrepreneurs, namely Gary Vaynerchuk, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, and will.i.am. The influencers were "brilliant" and "provided a lot of value to the apps that they advised," a source said.

The way that developers pitch is said to be "very unique," and "not as straightforward as just standing on a stage in front of the judges," a format popularized by shows like American Idol. In addition to influencers and judges, the series also has a "very famous" host, but the source does not want to play spoiler as to who it is.

The developers who made it to the final round of the show will receive up to $10 million in funding and featured placement in the App Store at the end of the show's airing. The casting call described the series as both a "launchpad" and "accelerator" for iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps and developers.

Planet of the Apps will apparently be a "very inspirational show," particularly among the next generation of developers. During each app pitch, the show is said to have filmed the reactions of other developers live, which will likely result in some amusing footage interspersed throughout the season.

Planet of the Apps website now says to "check back soon"

While filming has concluded, it remains unclear when the series will be released. WWDC 2017 in June is a definite possibility given it is a developer-focused conference. The series will likely be distributed through Apple Music along with Apple's other original content endeavors such as Carpool Karaoke and Vital Signs.

Looking beyond Planet of the Apps, Apple is reportedly planning a much bigger push into original content this year to promote Apple Music.


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