I don't use a lot of Apple products at home or at the office. I have in the past, but I'm fine trading a bit less buzz on my products in exchange for lower costs. So I own a Samsung Galaxy instead of an iPhone and Windows-based laptops and desktop computers instead of something on iOs.
But I have been slowly moving towards buying an Apple TV, even though I don't need it for the most part. I'm happy with my Roku sticks and I have an old Google Chromecast I use to stream some of my television review screeners that aren't available via a Roku app. But a growing number of networks are using the Screeners.com service to provide review copies to critics. And while Screeners offers an app for Apple TV, there isn't one for Roku. So when Apple announced that it would give a free year of Apple TV+ to anyone who bought one of a number of Apple products, I decided it was worth pulling the trigger on a purchase of an Apple TV.
I was so naive.
The Apple TV was easy to set up and I created a new Apple ID. In theory, I should have been able to sign into my Apple ID account online, respond to a conformation email that is then sent to the account listed on my Apple ID, then sign into Apple TV+ and see an offer for the free year of service.
But it didn't work.
I wasn't able to sign into Apple TV+ through my Apple TV, it prompted me to go online. And when I went to the main page of Apple TV+ to log in, I was stymied. I didn't get an error message, but if I entered my Apple ID and password, the login box just refreshed and essentially ignored my attempted login.
At this point, I was getting frustrated, so I called Apple Support. The person I spoke with initially apologized and offered to transfer me to one of their Apple TV specialists. "But they're a bit overwhelmed right now, since it's a small group of people. We don't usually get a lot of Apple TV calls." I didn't bring up the apparently novel idea of perhaps adding extra support staff when you're launching a high-profile new service.
I was on hold for 45 minutes and eventually hung up because I wanted to slap someone. A few minutes later, an Apple TV specialist called me back and I will say she was extremely nice as she walked me through a bunch of suggestions she hoped would solve the situation. She eventually admitted that the problem was likely due to a small issue Apple had neglected to account for when it planned the Apple TV+ launch.
Apparently, if you register for a new Apple ID that isn't already tied to an existing Apple Device, the system won't allow you to sign in. Even if you have confirmed the Apple ID email address. She asked if I had a friend or family member who had an iPhone I could use to sign in. Or I could go to a Best Buy or Apple Store and use one of their devices to confirm my ID. "And this might not be the right time, but this might be a good excuse to but a new iPhone 11." Oh yeah, I'll get right on that.
After I hung up with Apple Support. I decided to see what would happen if I tried to sign into Apple TV+ using the new Apple TV app that's available on Roku. But this is the error message I received:
Okay, so I'll take the suggestion and sign into iTunes. I downloaded iTunes, signed in but still no luck. Then as I was randomly clicking through iTunes, I hit a page for the video store and was prompted to add payment information to my iTunes account. And yes, that was the step that apparently allowed me to use my new Apple ID to sign into Apple TV+.
And my account didn't offer the free year option.
Short of taking up binge drinking, I'm not going to attempt to fix this issue until tomorrow. But based on my Sunday afternoon of hell, let me offer a quick tutorial for potential Apple TV+ subscribers.
1) Download iTunes
2) Create a new Apple ID account and add payment info to your account.
3) When you sign up for Apple TV+, use this new Apple ID to create an account on the device you have just purchased. In theory-at least-when you click the button to subscribe with the free 7-day trial, one of the options that will be included is a free 12-month subscription.
4) If it doesn't work, I feel your pain.