Apple's ''Show Time'' event debuted a bunch of new services from the Cupertino company as well as new features for existing ones. A running theme was the ability to bundle premium content from different sources into simple subscription services.
Apple News Plus
This new premium tier of Apple News adds over 300 magazines to the Apple News App with an emphasis on high-quality, trustworthy content (at least, according to Apple) such as The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Men’s Health, and Vogue. Apple News Plus will be apparently ''the only place'' to get all of these at once.
The Wall Street Journal will also be contributing news reporting to to Apple News Plus subscribers. Apple stressed privacy throughout the event, and notes that it doesn't track what you read or let advertisers track you either.
Apple News Plus costs $9.99/month instead of the $8000 it would take to subscribe to all the services individually. Family Sharing is available at no extra charge, and the first month is free. The service is available in the US and Canada, and will come to Australia and Europe later this year.
Apple Card is both a software service and an actual physical card integrated with Apple wallet that promises to make the credit card experience simpler, easier, and more rewarding. To get one, users will be able to sign up trough the Apple Wallet app on their phones and get a digital card ''within minutes'' that they can use anywhere Apple Pay is accepted. Users can keep track of spending, and manage their bills via the app. The physical card is made of titanium and is very minimalist - no credit card number, CVV, expiration date, or signature, (that's all stored in the Apple Wallet app.)
Apple is partnered with Goldman Sachs for Apple Card, with Mastercard processing the payments. Apple promises ''no late fees, no annual fees, no international fees, and no over limit fee'' with Apple Card — and ''lower interest rates'' with no penalties for missing payments, though we don't have exact numbers for this.
Once more privacy is emphasized. Apple doesn't store information on what you buy, where you shop or how much you paid, with all the info being stored on the device itself, not Apple's servers. Likewise, Goldman Sachs will not share your data with third parties.
There will be a cash back program called Daily Cash which, as the name suggests, will pay you back a small percentage on a daily basis according to your purchases. No cash back limit, no costs. Apple will return the cashback in real cash and not points:
- 3% for purchases made on Apple platforms (such iTunes, the App Store)
- 2% for all purchases made through Apple Pay with iPhone or Apple Watch
- 1% for purchases with physical card
Apple Arcade ''The world's first gaming subscription service for mobile, desktop and living room". The concept presented is that free-to-play games are so popular on the App Store, that quality premium paid games struggle to get noticed. With Apple Arcade, customers pay a subscription fee to access a wide library of games that would otherwise be paid apps.
Apple itself is working with developers on titles like Beyond A Steel Sky, Fantasian, Lifelike, and Overland. AR and multiplayer games will also be included.
The subscription service will allow you to pick up and play seamlessly between different devices, and includes all content, features and updates. It's not streaming, all games will be playable offline. Parental controls can be set too. Apple Arcade games cannot collect any data about you or data about how you play your games without your consent. It all sounds like a pleasant contrast to many concerns raised over Google's recently announced Stadia service.
Apple Arcade becomes available this fall in over 150 countries and regions. Pricing is still to be announced.
Apple TV Plus
Apple has redesigned the Apple TV app and added the so-called "channels", integrated with Siri. The idea is that you pay for all the channels you want in one app, cable TV bundles included. HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS, CNN, NBC are all rolled in. Apple has stated how the contents will be available with a "pay only for what you want" model even if it is not yet clear how much this will cost. It is promised to be on demand and ad free, and viewable offline.
The new Apple TV app is available in May and is also coming to Mac in fall. It will also be available on Roku and Fire TV, plus Samsung, LG, and Sony TVs in over 100 countries and regions this year.
Apple's original movies and TV shows are presented under an additional subscription called AppleTV Plus, and many showbiz luminaries took the stage to tease us with some intriguing content.
- Steven Spielberg will be reviving the classic sci-fi anthology Amazing Stories.
- Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard present See, a post apocalyptic story where the remnants of human survivors have become totally blind.
- Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carrell team for The Morning Show.
- Kumail Nanjiani's Little America, focusing on telling true-to-life immigrant stories.
Apple's multimedia offensive is putting convenience and privacy at the center of everything, and in bundling as much as possible into easy-to-use subscriptions tied to Apple's trusted ecosystem could be on to a winner. Of course, even Apple can't offer everything. On the TV side, Netflix isn't cosying up to Cupertino, for one.
What do you think of Apple's model for subscription services? Should Google and other rivals emulate it?