Online movie or streaming services (also known as Video on Demand) have been a viable home entertainment option in South Africa for some time now, with tens of thousands of users enjoying on demand movie rentals and purchases from the comfort of their couch. With internet connectivity in South Africa getting faster and cheaper - there’s even a huge fibre race happening - this trend will continue. It seems there are new video on demand offerings popping up everywhere, even through existing satellite or cable subscriptions. Many companies are trying to jump on the bandwagon or play catchup. Some of these options are good, some are lame.
For us, the best option is the Apple iTunes Store used with an Apple TV. Because of Apple’s extensive partnerships with just about every studio and broadcaster, their content offering is unmatched by other satellite or online streaming providers. Both new and old content is readily available, with new movies often available for purchase or rent while still being screened in cinemas in other countries.
Using a US Apple ID (iTunes account) is where it really shines though. Why a US Apple ID? Quite simply, there’s so much more content when it comes to Movies and TV Shows (Series). Every country has their own regional iTunes store and the content available in each differs greatly for a number of reasons including licensing, countries’ own ratings boards, etc. The difference in movie content between the US iTunes store and other countries’ iTunes stores is enormous. That’s why a US iTunes account is the best way to go.
An Apple TV is incredibly simple to setup and use:
Understanding and getting around on your Apple TV is simpler than an iPhone with the usual intuitive layout you’d expect from Apple.
If you own an iPhone or iPad you’ll love your Apple TV that much more. You can play your music from your device through your TV or home entertainment system or mirror your device’s screen directly to your TV for showing photos, playing videos, or even gaming.
You can buy your Apple TV in South Africa from your nearest iStore, Incredible Connection, Makro, DionWired, and most other stores that sell Apple products.
After getting yourself an iPhone or iPad you might be disappointed to discover that Angry Birds, Games, and other cool apps you've heard about aren't available when you go to the iTunes store. This is because you are viewing the South African iTunes store.
Games, TV shows, and the latest movies aren't available on the South African iTunes store due to certain regulations and licences. There's a workaround though...
You can create a US iTunes account from South Africa by following our simple instructions here. You then pay for your purchases by buying iTunes Gift Cards (vouchers) and loading the credit to your US iTunes account by redeeming them.
One benefit we get by doing what we do at Wildtwig is a depth of knowledge about the iTunes and Apple ecosystem that not many have. Kelvin has been intimately involved with the US App Store from the very beginning of Wildtwig and through various support queries and changes by Apple, we've come to really know how the iTunes store works for the consumer.
It's quite strange how little of the knowledge that we've picked up is common. We recently upgraded our support section so that it was accurate for the current versions of iTunes and iOS and matched our new site design. As part of this process, we wrote articles on how to create a US iTunes Account on Mac/PC as well as on an iPad or iPhone. Until I undertook the task of writing the article for the iPad I was under the impression that one would need iTunes installed on a desktop computer to create a US iTunes account. One of my friends recently bought an iPad and struggled to figure out how to create an account without resorting to installing iTunes. In the end he did just that.
This process has made it abundantly clear that if I didn't know how to create a US iTunes account on an iPad from South Africa, the average consumer is going to struggle. It's the iPad's curse abroad it seems. As a device the iPad is very simple and easy to use, but the initial setup of an iTunes account can be a frustrating endeavour.
My search for the process started on Google, as most would. Strangely I only turned up responses stating that users need to install iTunes to create an account.
I can conclusively say this is not true. You can create a US iTunes account using only an iPad and our guide shows you how in a clear step by step manner.
I'm glad that we can support the South African Apple community with our depth of knowledge, though this is only the tip of the iceberg. In the coming months we'll be sharing all sorts of mostly unknown tips, tricks and suggestions about the Apple ecosystem.
Our customers are our number one priority and we're going to go to great lengths to make sure that they enjoy their experience, both with Wildtwig and with Apple, as much as possible.
As I'm sure most of you know, Wildtwig is protected by an OTP (One Time Password/PIN) authorisation system. To be able to buy iTunes vouchers from us you need to provide us with a South African cellphone number and we send you an OTP. If you've purchased from us before, either by successfully following the OTP process or by being a long time customer of ours from before the OTP days, you can also complete the OTP process via email.
We adopted this mechanism so that we don't require any of our customers to create an account. Account creation was a tedious process for all involved because we had to manually approve the account which often took time, thereby delaying the ability to purchase vouchers. Wildtwig has always prided itself on instant code delivery and having to wait for your account to be approved hindered that goal. With the OTP system we can offer instant delivery even if you've never bought from us before. It seemed the perfect solution.
Unfortunately our cellular providers in South Africa are not 100% reliable when it comes to automatic SMS delivery. Sometimes SMSs come through hours after they're necessary and other times they just don't come through at all. For us to offer a reliable service we had to solve this problem. Luckily voice calls over our networks are far more reliable. We utilise Twilio to make a voice call to the provided cellphone number, as well as to send the original SMS. Once we'd implemented the voice call option for when your SMS did not come through we thought we'd solved the problem but after watching our server logs and responding to our live support chats we realised that people were just not seeing the voice call link. So we made it more obvious: it got bigger and brighter but people still never saw it. So we added some motion by introducing a countdown timer that would draw attention to the link as well as provide an indication of how long you should wait before assuming your SMS would not arrive. Some days we still receive a live support chat about an SMS not coming through. We've assumed it's because people don't believe in the voice call link. I assure you it works. You won't have to wait for one of us humans to call you; our system will phone you immediately to give you your OTP. If you happen to have doubted the link in the past rest assured that it works and we want you to use it if you don't receive an SMS. It just goes to show that any assumption about user behaviour needs to be validated.
Overall we feel the SMS based OTP system has had a positive effect for our customers. They no longer need to sign up and remember a password and they no longer need to fill out applications and wait. Sometimes though, people don't behave as we expect them to and it's our fault for not predicting this better. We will continuously strive to improve your experience on our site and I'd like to invite you to make use of our live support chat if our service isn't perfect. Your happiness and satisfaction as a customer is our ultimate goal.