5 Takeaways From Apple’s March Event

Including credit cards, subscription everything and Oprah

March 25, 2019 9:00 am

A lot of news from Cupertino today, and one Oprah appearance. Let’s unpack the new stuff from Apple, which seems a lot like older stuff that other companies have had for a while (albeit with some nice tweaks).

Apple Arcade

Quick pitch: “Netflix for games.”

What it is: An all-you-can-play, no-ads (and no in-app purchases) subscription service for games, where you can jump from your Phone to Mac to Apple TV … and play offline, too.

What it means: Basically, this is a curated version of the 300,000 games you can get in the App Store with some exclusives thrown in. We’ll need to get more of an idea of the games or the price before judging (it launches this fall).

Apple Card

Quick pitch: “A virtual credit card”

What it is: Co-created with Goldman Sachs, Apple Card lives in the Wallet app on your iPhone. Paired with Apple Pay, you can directly message Apple questions about payments, get smart statements (purchases pinpointed on a map and color-coded into categories) and receive “Daily Cash” on your purchases (from 1-3%). Also, no fees of any sort, including late fees. Want to use it somewhere that doesn’t accept Apple Pay? You can get a physical card made of titanium that has no identifying numbers on it and works anywhere that takes Mastercard.

What it means: You get more cashback from buying Apple products directly from Apple, so this seems best suited for Apple fanboys or people who want better intel on their spending habits and don’t care about, say, travel rewards.

Apple News+

The pitch: “Netflix for magazines and newspapers”

What it is: For a monthly subscription, get digital access to hundreds of publications on your tablet or phone, all through a single app. It’s a nice mix (Wired, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal) with a few notable non-participants (no Washington Post or New York Times)

What it means: As a voracious media consumer, this is great. But I don’t see the average person spending $10/month to avoid those “you have 3 remaining free articles” pop-ups.

Apple TV Plus and TV Channels

The pitch: “It’s Netflix for … actually, it’s more like Hulu.”

What it is: TV Plus will be a billion dollars worth of ad-free, on-demand shows from the likes of Spielberg (reviving Amazing Stories), Oprah, J.J. Abrams, etc. A full list of shows is here. Channels, meanwhile, will allow you to add content and subscriptions from third parties like HBO, Showtime and Starz, directly within the Apple TV app. In that sense, it’s more Hulu, Amazon Prime or PlayStation Vue. The app will now be available through smart TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

What it means: It doesn’t look like Plus and Channels and iTunes will all work together nicely — some details were admittedly scarce — so it looks like another confusing cord-cutting option that’s probably going to live or die on content.  

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