Apple's annual spring “reveal” is always a highlight of the year for technology enthusiasts. This year was no different as Apple unveiled an array of subscriptions that will shift Apple's focus from product-based to service-based. Among the highlights were details of Apple's new subscription services including Apple TV+, Apple News+ and Apple Arcade. Apple News+ is available now; the other two subscriptions are expected to launch this fall. Let's take a look at what each of these services has to offer subscribers:
Apple TV+: The tech giant's new ad-free, streaming video subscription service will feature exclusive originals, movies and documentaries across every genre, including The Morning Show, Home Before Dark, Dickinson, Truth Be Told, Servant and others featuring actors and artists including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston. J. J. Abrams, and Octavia Spencer. Pricing and availability for the subscription service will be announced later this year.
Here's a sneak preview, compliments of Apple.
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“We're honored that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world – both in front of and behind the camera – are coming to Apple TV+,” said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, in a March 25 news release. “We're thrilled to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in starting this fall. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.”
As a teaser, starting in May, Apple has redesigned the Apple TV app, giving viewers access to premium channels including HBO, SHOWTIME, Starz, CBS All Access, EPIX, Noggin, TV Hits and others.
Apple News+: If you are a newsie, you might enjoy the new Apple News+ app, which Apple is calling an “immersive magazine and news reading experience.” With this new app, Apple is building on its acquisition of Texture last spring. In the new and improved version, Apple gives subscribers access to more than 300 publications, including glossy favorites like O, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Simple and newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and the Toronto Star. Digital publications are also available including theSkimm, TechCrunch and The Highlight by Vox.
Apple News+ is already available to subscribers for $9.99 a month in the U.S. and for $12.99 a month in Canada, following a free one-month trial. To access the app, however, iOS users must update to iOS 12.2 and Mac users must update to 10.14.4. With Family Sharing, up to six family members can use the subscription. Apple anticipates making the app available in the U.K. and Australia later this year.
Apple Arcade: Last but not least is Apple Arcade, a subscription gaming service for mobile, desktop and living room. Apple says that this service will offer new, original games from acclaimed developers, major studioss and creators including Hironobu Sakaguchi, Ken Wong and Will Wright. The new service will feature more than 100 new and exclusive, high-quality games for players of all ages and skill levels, including games from Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Finji, SEGA, LEGO and more.
In a news release, Apple explains that the App Store is home to close 300,000 free and paid games. The free games are supported through advertising and in-app purchases, but sometimes paid games don't attract large enough audiences. Apple hopes that the simplicity of its subscription and its curation of quality games will draw more players. The company's competitive advantage will be exclusivity and the ability to plan online and off across devices.
“The App Store is the world's biggest and most successful game platform. Now we are going to take games even further with Apple Arcade, the first game subscription service for mobile, desktop and the living room,” said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We are working with some of the most innovative game developers in the world to create over 100 new and exclusive games to play across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. Apple Arcade games will be great for families, respect user privacy and will not have ads or require any additional purchases. We think players of all ages are going to love Apple Arcade.”
The service is expected to launch this fall. Apple did not offer pricing details yet.
There isn't much more we can say here. Apple has invested a lot of time and money to pivot toward subscription services. This is a big move, but a smart one for Apple as the company sees product sales drop off. This new strategy will help Apple stay both fresh and affordable while sustaining itself in the long run. Though there is a lot of competition in the streaming video market, the exclusivity Apple can offer will draw a sizable audience. Gaming, too, is likely to take off.
We are a little more skeptical on Apple News+. From a magazine standpoint, the product is solid – with lots of choices for magazine fans like myself. To pitch this as a “news” product though seems a bit of a stretch, given that the app is light on news so far. The Wall Street Journal was a good get, for sure, but the news app could definitely benefit from more heavy hitters like The New York Times and the Washington Post who have so far rebuffed Apple's advances.