The power of plus

On March 25, Apple held its first ever services-centric event, where the company introduced several new and upcoming service products with no hardware announcements at all. It took Apple almost two hours to introduce Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple Card and Apple TV+.

The only service that’s available today, Apple News+, is designed to provide access to over 300 popular magazines. Leading newspapers and digital publishers are also included in each Apple News+ subscription, with topics covering everything from entertainment, fashion and news, to politics, health, lifestyle and travel for $9.99 per month. Everyone on a Family Sharing plan can access Apple News+ for that $9.99 per month fee. Apple News+ subscribers can access current and past issues and individual articles from magazines such as The Atlantic, Bon Appétit, ELLE, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, Esquire, GQ, Health, InStyle, National Geographic, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, The People, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Travel + Leisure, WIRED and Woman’s Day.

In addition, Apple News+ includes The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper. As part of the Apple News app, Apple News+ showcases magazines in richly designed layouts, featuring animated covers, vivid photography and bold typography optimized for iPhone, iPad and Mac. In the Today and News+ tabs, subscribers will be presented with individual article and issue recommendations based on both editorial curation and personalized suggestions, all while maintaining user privacy.

Apple Card is a new credit card Apple’s offering in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Starting this summer, you can sign up for an Apple Card right on the iPhone and start using it immediately for Apple Pay purchases. You can make digital payments with Apple Pay using the card, but for non-Apple Pay payments, Apple is giving customers a titanium card with only the Apple logo laser -etched on it with no visible credit card information like number and CVV. All of that information will be available in your Apple Wallet if you need it. With Apple Card, you get 1 percent cash back for standard card purchases, 2 percent  cash back for Apple Pay purchases and 3 percent cash back for Apple purchases. Cash back is provided to you on a daily basis and you can use it for paying your balance, making purchases or sending Apple Pay Cash in Messages. After spending, Apple Card will give users simple real-time views of their latest transactions and balance in the Wallet app. Apple Card uses machine learning and Apple Maps to label transactions with merchant names and locations. Purchases are then automatically totaled and color coded through categories like Food and Drinks, Shopping and Entertainment, and more. At the end of each week and month, the Wallet app will show what users spent to help visualize their past finances.

Apple Arcade is Apple’s new cross-platform subscription gaming service that will provide access to more than 100 iOS games that can be played both online and offline across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, and the whole family can play using Family Sharing with one subscription fee. With publishers like Disney, Sega, LEGO, Cartoon Network, Konami, and more when it launches this fall in over 150 countries it may be a future contender with mainstream consoles like the Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo. Apple hasn’t announced pricing,however, the Apple Arcade subscription will include full access to all games with no additional in-app purchases necessary to unlock content. Apple Arcade will have a dedicated tab on the App Store, and games will be curated by Apple’s team of App Store editors. Apple says the emphasis will be on personalized recommendations, and Apple promises that Apple Arcade games cannot collect any data about the user without consent.

Apple’s final services announcement was Apple TV+, which will house all of the company’s original TV content. Apple says that TV+ will be the home for “the world’s most creative storytellers,” and it will feature original TV shows, movies, and documentaries. As we’ve learned over the past few months, original content partners include Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, and more.  Pricing hasn’t been announced because it’s not launching until fall, but Apple TV+ will be available in Apple’s revamped TV app, coming in May. The new TV app, which will be available on iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac (in the fall) and third-party Smart TVs from Sony, LG, Samsung, and Vizio, features better than ever recommendations built on machine learning and a new “Channels” option that will let you subscribe to and watch content from providers like Starz, Showtime, and HBO in two to three steps

With the era of the subscription upon us, it seems that Apple is finally catching the tune of the music, or of the money. There are plenty of questions about security and safety (iCloud has been hacked how many times?)  to be asked but they can only be answered in due time. Basically, subscribe to all the things because that is the business model of just about everywhere. But the true question is will it be too late? Most services are ahead of the game and Apple is deciding to jump in at the second quarter. However with Apple’s popularity and track record, the power of plus may be able to overcome all obstacles and triumph over all.

Tony Tann