Apple just announced not one, not two or three, but FOUR new services.
Here’s the lowdown on Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, and Apple Card. These services may not have the sizzle of a new iPhone, but by the end of this year, they’ll be a part of daily life for millions of iPhone users.
Of the four new services Apple revealed, only one is available right now, and that’s Apple News+. Once you upgrade to iOS 12.2 or macOS 10.14.4, you’ll see a new “News+” tab. That’s where you subscribe, for $9.99 per month. This includes Family Sharing at no extra cost, which is a nice touch.
So what do you get? How about the full content of over 300 magazines, including Time, People, Popular Science, Car & Driver, GQ, Bon Appetit, and yes, Macworld and PC World, too. A few even have fancy motion covers, and recent issues automatically download for reading offline.
It also includes some premium subscription-only online content places like TechCrunch, Vulture, and The Skimm. Plus, you’ll find content from a couple of prominent newspapers: The LA Times and the Wall Street Journal.
This fall, Apple will launch a new gaming subscription service called Apple Arcade. Unfortunately, we don’t have a ton of details about it yet...you know, little things like how much it costs.
But we do know it will include over 100 premium games, which Apple says will not appear on any other mobile platform or in any other subscription service. And none of them will have ads, or in-app purchases. Once you subscribe, you get whole games with all updates and never have to buy anything else.
Apple promises that all the games will be playable across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, and you’ll be able to switch devices and pick up where you left off. But it is NOT a streaming service. You can download the games and play them offline.
Family Sharing is included here, too. Still, we still don’t know exactly when Apple Arcade will launch or what it will cost. Since Apple says it’s coming this fall, it’s our guess that it will be part of iOS 13 and macOS 10.15.
Also coming this fall is a new video service called Apple TV+. This is not to be confused with a redesign of the TV app that let you subscribe to other streaming services. THAT’S coming in May.
Apple TV+ is a streaming service that’s limited to Apple’s own original shows and movies. Now, Apple’s been spending HUGE money on really big names for this, with everything from a new Amazing Stories series from Steven Spielberg to The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. There’s also See, a post-apocalyptic drama with Jason Momoa about a world hundreds of years after everyone lost their eyesight. And Little America, an immigrant anthology series from Kumail Nanjiani. We even saw Big Bird introduce a series for preschoolers called Helpsters.
For all the star power at Apple’s event, we still know very little about all these shows Apple is working on. And we don’t yet know how many will be available when Apple TV+ launches this the fall, or how much the service will cost.
Finally, the strangest new service Apple introduced this week was… a credit card.
Apple Card is essentially a MasterCard issued by Goldman Sachs, exclusively for Apple, and it will be available this summer.
You sign up for it directly on your iPhone, and then the card is approved and added to Apple Pay account within minutes. So you can start using it right away. Apple gives you 2% cashback on purchases with Apple Pay, and 3% cashback on any purchase from Apple, including Apple stores, iTunes, and the App Store. That includes in-app purchases and services like Apple Music or iCloud storage. You get this cash back daily, and it goes directly toward your Apple Pay Cash balance, so you can immediately spend it with Apple Pay or transfer it to your bank account.
Now, we don’t have all the fine print for the card just yet, we only know Apple promises that its interest rates will be “among the lowest in the industry” and there are no fees at all. No annual fees, no cash advance fees, no international fees, and no late fees.
The other big part of the card is the phone experience, which makes it easy to schedule payments, see exactly what you’re spending your money on, calculate how much interest you’ll owe and so on. Apple’s really aiming to make everything clear, easy, and transparent.
If you want to use Apple Card at a store or website doesn’t take Apple Pay, no problem. Apple will give you a slick, minimalist, TITANIUM credit card with your name laser etched on it. As a security measure, it doesn’t have your card number, CVV number, expiration date, or signature on it. If you need that info for online purchases, it’ll be in your wallet app. But using the card only gives you 1% cash back. So Apple really wants you to use Apple Pay.
Apple really emphasizes privacy and security with all these services. It promises not to track your info any more than absolutely necessary to run the service, and it makes recommendations and stores details on your device. Apple even promised that Goldman Sachs won’t sell or share your credit card data.
Other than Apple News+, none of these services have launched yet. There are lots of details we don’t know yet about how the other services will work and what they’ll cost. I’m sure we’ll learn more as they get closer to release.
But we can tell you that Apple is definitely going big with services this year, and if you get really into them, it’s going to make you really want to stick within the Apple ecosystem.