On Monday, March 25th, Apple hosted a special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre which they ironically called “It’s Showtime.” Instead of a two-hour keynote showing off business stats and fancy new hardware per usual, Apple used “It’s Showtime” to give us a peek at the future of their service offerings. The presentation was split up into four major domains: TV, Gaming, News, and Pay.
Apple TV & Apple TV+
Apple TV, such an obvious focal point of the keynote, is now being pivoted into something much greater than just a set top box – it is now going to be a service. The tech giant is removing the hardware barrier and allowing users to access the same content on Apple TV, Mac, iOS devices, and through an Apple TV app that will be available on streaming devices and some smart TVs. This would be similar to making Apple Music available on Android. A move that allows Apple to grow their subscriber base beyond just their dedicated users.
Unlike the services that Netflix and Hulu offer, Apple is angling this new offering as a hub for content that stretches across multiple services. Users will be able to subscribe to Apple TV Channels, which will include services like HBO, Starz, and other network TV shows, sports, and news stations that are normally accessible from cable and satellite providers. Even movies and shows from iTunes can be rented or purchased here and all inside of a single application, instead of having to subscribe or buy from other apps individually. All content is also accessible from one account and available for family sharing. Additionally, within the new Apple TV app, sports, and kids shows will be given special attention. For instance, presenting scores and other game-related data overtop live game previews will now be an available feature on the platform, along with the ability to search sport or league specific content. For kids, Apple said it will provide a safe place to explore and engage with age-appropriate content.
Users will also be able to subscribe to channels a la carte. This provides more flexibility for users to only pay for what they will actually watch. On top of that, Apple plans to provide users the ability to buy packages (several channels grouped together) for a discounted price. All of this content will be available for users to watch with or without an internet connection and all Apple TV Channels will be available in May.
Pushing harder in their effort to provide quality and original content to its users, Apple has announced Apple TV+. Apple TV+ will be an Apple TV Channel featuring exclusive content from Apple. Apple has partnered with some of the most recognizable talent in the entertainment industry to create documentaries, tv shows, and movies and plans to release the channel later this fall.
Coming up on the heels of Google’s Stadia announcement, Apple has introduced a gaming subscription service called Apple Arcade. The difference here being Apple’s approach to what a subscription gaming service should be. Google’s Stadia will allow customers to stream mainstream games that are already available on other platforms. Apple is, again, asserting itself as a content creator with its focus on partnering with some of the most creative developers in the industry to provide subscribers with new and exclusive games.
Apple promises that games provided through this service will be free of additional purchases and advertisements—something commonly seen on App Store games. All Apple Arcade games will be accessible from any Apple TV, Mac, or iOS device via the same Apple ID and subscription. Users can look forward to being able to pick up where they left off and continue no matter which device they choose. Games will also be available with or without an internet connection. Similar to the release of Apple TV+, Apple Arcade will be available this coming fall.
Apple is expanding its News app, which is now the most used news app in the world, into a paid publication subscription service. Users will now be able to access current and previously published issues and articles from a large variety of magazines, newspapers, and other digital publications for one flat rate. Apple is also offering creative tools to publishers so that they can enhance their content and make it more appealing to subscribers. This includes richly designed layouts, bold typography, and animated covers. Apple News+ is currently available at $9.99/month ($12.99 in Canada).
Pay & Apple Card
Apple is entering the credit card provider space yet again. Backed by Goldman Sachs and MasterCard, a titanium card with the cardholder’s name lasered onto its face will be given to the owner. The card will also be integrated into the iPhone via Apple Pay. Apple Card will be a tightly-coupled physical and digital experience and the product continues Apple’s legacy of promising to respect and protect consumer privacy. The card is even free of any visible card number, CVV code, expiration, or signature, however, users can access this information in the Wallet app to use on websites and apps.
Apple aims to make the application process as smooth as possible. Customers can apply for a card within the Wallet app and start using it immediately after approval. Users will also be able to view in-depth information about their purchases– from the location (integrated with Apple Maps) and purchase category to even a chart to see where all of their money is going. Lastly, all of this happens in real-time and 24/7 customer service support is provided to cardholders.
It gets better. Users will receive up to 3% daily cash back, and not points, but actual money. Apple also touts no fees for the card and no late, annual, international, or over-the-limit fees. The company also stated that the card will have interest rates that are among the lowest in the country.
It is clear now that Apple is propping itself up to be more than just a hardware provider. The company intends on being more of a lifestyle brand that aims to make its users’ lives easier by seamlessly integrating quality and useful services into the devices they use every day.