Tom Cook at Apple's Keynote event
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Mar 29, 2019 | Updated Sep 14, 2021

It’s Showtime for Apple Services

It was all about entertainment on Monday at the Steve Jobs Theater, where Apple announced a new set of long-awaited services.

As someone heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, I was excited for the event and want to share some of my thoughts on the new services.

Apple's newly announced services include:

  1. Apple Channels
    “Your favorite shows in one place on all your screens.”
  2. Apple TV+
    “Where the most creative minds in TV and film tell the world's best stories.”
  3. Apple News+
    “All your favorite magazines, all in one place.”
  4. Apple Arcade
    “A gaming service unlike any other. Play over 100 groundbreaking games.”
  5. Apple Card
    “Simple, secure, and private. Clear and immediate rewards.”

Apple Channels

Apple Channels is almost identical to Amazon Prime Video Channels. Through Apple Channels, people will be able to subscribe to video streaming services, such as HBO, CBS All Access, and BritBox. This new offering will be available through a redesigned Apple TV app, compatible with select non-Apple devices (some smart TVs, Fire TV, and Roku).

We love our Apple TV (the device) but never use the Apple TV app. Instead, we use other apps installed on our device, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and MLB.TV. In terms of an integrated channel experience, we are already invested in Amazon Prime Video Channels, which does a pretty darn good job. Furthermore, two of the main services we use — Netflix and MLB.TV — won’t be included in Apple Channels. And, perhaps most importantly, my non-tech-savvy husband understands our current video setup and can easily navigate it. I’m not interested in upsetting that apple cart (no pun intended).

Apple Channels might make more sense for folks who are already invested in watching content via the current Apple TV app, but it’s a no-go for us.

Apple TV+

Apple TV+offers original content. Apple has already sunk more than $1 billion into content development, making this announcement highly anticipated. However, the event provided only the slightest sneak peek at the planned shows.

The challenge in our household is that our existing subscription services already offer too much appealing content. And Apple previewed nothing that initially struck me as “must-watch” TV, though a few titles did seem promising. I think we would most likely subscribe for a short period if there were a program we absolutely didn’t want to miss.

Apple News+

Also highly anticipated, the news subscription offering (News+) leverages Apple’s 2018 purchase of Texture, a magazine subscription service. News+ allows users to access all of their favorite online magazines within a single app.

During the event, News+ was the offering I was most excited to try, especially because it’s available now. I immediately signed up for the one-month free trial. The reading experience is, as promised, optimized for mobile. However, I encountered two main challenges: (1) There are separate sections for News and News+, which I’ve found confusing thus far, as it seems to require that I remember what is and isn’t free. (2) News+ doesn’t offer my favorite magazines (Fine Cooking, Cook’s illustrated, Interweave Knits, and Vogue Knitting). In fact, none of the 300 magazines is a definite draw for me. I’ll be canceling News+ before the end of the trial but will keep an eye on how the catalog of publications develops.

Apple Arcade

There had been rumors of a gaming service, and Apple indeed unveiled Apple Arcade. Though I’m not a gamer, I still found this offering to be intriguing. Despite the previous public perception that Apple wasn’t particularly “getting” the gaming market, this seems to, well, get it into the game in a significant way.

Arcade strikes me as attractive to parents as a way to manage a household’s game-related activities — both in terms of content and the single monthly, all-inclusive fee. The game lineup also seems to be of interest to more serious gamers.

Apple Card

Apple Card is another interesting offering — one that extends Apple into financial services. It is mostly a virtual card designed to work with Apple Pay, with a fancy titanium physical card that can be used in locales that don’t accept Apple Pay.

I love everything about this: the easy-to-understand rewards, the financial management features, and, of course, that titanium credit card. But my husband, a “financial optimizer,” has already identified the card that provides the best rewards for our spending habits. I know the Apple Card rewards won’t stack up financially against what we have now. This might be a compelling offering for people in a position to prioritize the experience of Apple Card over the straight numbers, but we won’t be making that move.

The wrap-up

There is still a lot we don’t know about most of these services, so it’s hard to do anything beyond speculate how they might fit into our lives. For me, News+ has the most potential, as I would love to have all my favorite magazines available in a single experience. But, like all the content services, my interest ultimately depends on what’s in the catalog. I’m looking forward to seeing how these offerings develop.