Apple reveals new TV, gaming, news and credit card services
Image credit: reuters
Apple has announced a raft of new media services for TV, gaming and news as well as an extension to Apple Pay in the form of a new card.
Probably the biggest announcement from last night’s event held at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco was the new TV service.
Apple has roped in a lot of big names for its Netflix competitor including Hollywood stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and JJ Abrams.
The new service will be advert-free and on-demand, available to watch both online and offline and will launch in the autumn. Pricing is still to be confirmed although with Netflix costing £6-£10 depending on the package, a similar pricing structure would be expected.
It will combine with a refreshed Apple TV app that will include the new Apple TV Channels, an aggregation tool allowing users to select the services they want to access – for example US networks such as HBO and Showtime – from one location.
As well as being available on Apple devices, the tech company confirmed the Apple TV app will come to smart TVs – including those from Samsung, LG and Sony – as well the Amazon Fire TV platform.
Apple’s reported $2bn spend on the service sounds like a lot, but with $245bn in the bank, the company appears to be starting conservatively when it comes to funding. In comparison, Netflix, which is already well established, spent six times that last year.
Apple has also reportedly gone for a family-friendly vibe for the new service, even cancelling shows such as a semi-biographical drama on Dr Dre’s life, for being too violent. This policy could limit the diversity of shows on the service in comparison to its rivals.
Nevertheless, Apple’s ‘walled garden’ approach could attract users that already have a stake in its ecosystem in the interests of convenience.
Martin Garner, senior vice president at industry analyst firm CCS Insight, said the approach may not appeal to everyone.
“Apple’s TV+ original content programme launches in fall 2019, focusing on quality story-telling. This gives it a clear position in the market, which will produce some hit shows,” he said.
“But it will lack the full range and diversity of content available through Netflix, Amazon and others, and that is set to limit its appeal.
“With no pricing details given, and no details of its financial commitment to original content, Apple has yet to convince the world that its service can line up alongside Netflix and attract significant numbers of paying consumers.”
In an extension of its financial services, Apple announced what it called a new take on credit cards, the Apple Card, which is backed by financial giant Goldman Sachs.
The Apple Card will allow users to sign up from their iPhone and begin using it “in minutes” although it won’t have its own card number and will instead be limited to stores that already accept Apple Pay.
The new system will automatically track and categorise spending for users, as well as customise repayment times. The company was keen to point out that this data would not be shared with partners and advertisers, however.
The firm said its card would have no fees and all purchases made with the card would receive 2 per cent cashback, rising to 3 per cent for purchases made at Apple stores or through the company itself.
A physical version of the card is also to be launched for use in locations where Apple Pay is not accepted.
The card can be used globally although it will be available to US customers for now. Financial expert Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities has said he believes the card could come to the UK “by the fall” however.
Garner said: “Apple’s most innovative launch today was Apple Card, offering a range of disruptive credit card features available through the Wallet app, 2 per cent back in cash on most purchases, and a titanium physical card which looks set to become a highly aspirational item.”
Apple also confirmed its widely expected new magazine, newspaper and publishing subscription service known as Apple News+.
Sitting inside the existing Apple News app and costing $10 (£7.58) a month, the service will give users access to more than 300 publications once they join.
Titles including Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and National Geographic Magazine are among those joining the service at launch and will reach the UK later this year.
While it was not immediately clear what was on offer across all publications, subscribing to the 300 titles would cost $8,000 per year Apple executives said.
Apple also gave a preview of its gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade.
Said to be the first of its kind for mobile gaming, the service will feature more than 100 new and exclusive games designed for mobile and desktop and can be accessed by paying subscribers via the App Store.
Apple said the games that appear on Arcade will not be available on any other mobile platform or subscription service and will not require any extra in-app purchases.
Games can also be played across Apple devices, with players able to stop playing on one device and pick up at the same point on another.
Pricing for Arcade is still to be confirmed.
Apple was also keen to point out that the service will not feature any ads, ad tracking or additional purchases such as microtransactions.