Apple’s Paradigm Shift to Services has Begun

 

During Apple’s keynote event today, Apple as expected, announced a series of services. These services include “Apple News +”, “Apple Card”, “Apple Arcade” and “Apple TV +”. Apple is broadening and deepening the scope of their ecosystems. They are attempting this strategy in hopes to entice you with their offerings and then lock you into providing reliable streams of revenue.

Apple News Plus
Apple released its News app 3 years ago at the peak of personalized and curated news feeds. Today they are expanding this vision by offering a premium version of this service called Apple News Plus. Along with the usual web articles that have been offered and continue to be free, Apple has invited prominent News and print media outlets into their service. Outlets like National Geographic, GQ, and Essence magazine will now be able to be read in their entirety and unlimited as long as customers subscribe to this new service. Readers of the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times will now be able to read the paper on all of their Apple devices with the subscription as well. Apple has worked with these publishers to optimize and enhance their content for iPhones and iPads. Animations, transitions, and high resolution “Live Covers” will be used to immerse readers into the content they are consuming. Live Covers, will function like Apple’s Live Photos, but only for magazine Covers. Based on the demonstration that was shown during the keynote its looking like the News app may start looking like newspapers from Harry Potter, only in color. Apple News Plus will be 9.99 a month, but this service is supported by Apple’s family sharing feature. This means up to 6 people including the subscription holder can enjoy accessing Apple News Plus at no additional charge.
Apple Card
In an update to Apple’s “Apple Pay” service, the company is now offering their own branded credit cards. Apple plans to simplify the credit card experience and equip customers with the tools to safely and securely manage their finances. Apple ambitiously has “claimed” to have eliminated all fees associated with this card. This includes the removal of annual fees, late fees, and fees associated with exceeding spending limits. In order to offer a credit card, Apple had to partner with the bank Goldman Sachs and the company Master Card. Apple will offer cash back for purchases made on the card in the amount of 2% daily on purchases made on the card and 3% from purchases made at Apple retailers.

Apple will offer a virtual version of their card that will live on your iPhone with its data protected on the secure enclave partition of Apple’s processors. Its data will be encrypted and only stored on the iPhone. Apple will also offer a physical version of this card. The card will be made of titanium and will only feature a name and the Apple logo on the card. The card number, CVV, and signature won’t be present on the card for increased security. This card is to be used wherever Apple Pay is not supported. Details on where customers can get a physical card haven’t been made available at the time of writing. The Apple Card Service will be made available this Summer.

Apple Arcade
In an update to Apple’s App Store service, the company is now offering a subscription to mobile games that have been developed and curated in direct partnership with Apple. The games in this subscription will only be available through this subscription and only available on Apple devices across iOS, MacOS, and TvOS. Apple only offered a few teasers of the upcoming games offered in their service and announced that pricing for this service would be announced at a later date. The service is expected to launch in the fall of this year. The game service will operate through paid subscription only, which means none of these games will be free to play, feature adds, or offer in-game purchases. The service will, however, support family sharing, which means the entire family will be able to enjoy this gaming subscription across different devices.

Apple TV Plus
Today Apple finally unveiled its Apple TV streaming service. Actors, directors, and composers, filled the audience and graced the stage to give us a peek at the original programming that would be exclusive to Apple’s service. Apple also announced that its TV App would be getting an update to accommodate its streaming service and its new Channels feature. “Channels” is an option for customers to subscribe to individual content providers like HBO, Stars, and Showtime. Apple’s original content would only be available to subscribers of their TV Plus service. As its a paid service it will also be ad-free and arriving this fall.

On a final note, Apple introduced TV Legend Oprah Winfrey to introduce an unnamed project that she and the tech company were collaborating on. The only information we were given is that this program would be something like a book club.

Apple’s services could very well turn the tide for this company which is currently seeing sales slumps and fluctuating stock value. Apple needs to produce content that is engaging and provocative, but they also need to match the quality of its content with the quantity as well. Competition is heating up in the streaming world especially with Disney launching their own streaming service this fall as well.

No One Saw This Coming! Microsoft Exclusive: Cuphead Is Coming to Switch 

Cuphead, a shoot-em-up and a  “sort-of Indie game”, developed by a subsidiary of Microsoft is coming to the Nintendo Switch on April 18th.  Cuphead is most notable for its 1930 ’s hand-drawn aesthetic and also its “rage worthy” difficulty.

  Cuphead coming to Switch a clear signal of the growing sense of camaraderie between Microsoft and Nintendo. Fans of the game and those who have yet to play it are now excited to play it on the go as only the Nintendo Switch can offer this feature.

 This news also poses the question of what other offerings will be born from the collaboration between Nintendo and Microsoft. Perhaps it could mean Banjo & Kazooie are making their way to Smash Brothers. The duo has been highly requested for years and now very well may be their time to enter the fray. While we are at it, Cuphead himself may pour his way into Smash Bros as well. All I know is, its exciting times for gamers across platforms. 

Apple Continues to Refresh Its Product line. Today its Air Pods 2

On Monday Apple refreshed its budget end iPads, Tuesday Apple gave its iMac line up a spec bump, and now today, on Wednesday, Apple is finally announcing Air Pods 2nd generation.

Air Pods have quickly become one of Apple’s most popular accessories. As lightweight truly wireless headphones, its users truly feel like they are living in the future. Air Pods introduced the W1 chip which was a controller for the Bluetooth chip, which help the headphones seamlessly connect to iOS devices. The hardware and software integration between Air Pods and iOS devices is what sets them apart from other wireless headphone options.

Today Apple plans to continue pushing their hardware forward with the introduction of Air Pods 2nd Generation. The 2nd Generation of Air Pods features an upgraded chipset. The W1 chip has been updated to the H1 chip (Headphone chip). With this new chip, the Air Pods can more reliably connect to iOS devices and now supports hands-free Siri activation.

There is still good news for early adopters of the original Air Pods. While the new Air Pods can ship with a wireless Charging case, the new wireless charging case can be bought separately and used with the original Air Pods.

The new Air Pods were rumored to come in a new matte black color, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Also, the new Air Pods also didn’t receive a significant design change, actually the only thing that changed was the internals to accommodate the H1 chip.

Undoubtedly, Air Pods will continue to be popular and sell millions of units, the mystery is, however, what Apple product will they refresh next? Rumblings around the internet suggest that the iPod touch is next, but only time will tell.

Apple Quietly Refreshes iPad Air & iPad mini Ahead of March 25th Event.

Apple usually rolls out the red carpet when it intends to introduce new hardware to its customers. It is clear, however, that Apple’s focus isn’t on hardware. Apple has its sights clearly locked on to its new services. These new services will undoubtedly be unveiled during their keynote event on March 25th. As services will be the star of this event, Apple felt the need to go ahead and announce refreshes its iPad line.

iPad Air
The new iPad Air, not to be confused with the device of the same name that was released by Apple back in 2013, is a massive improvement over its predecessors. For starters the new iPad Air features a larger display, measuring 10.5” giving it the largest display of a non-pro iPad. Even though this iPad Air lacks the “pro” moniker, it is certainly packed with pro-level specs. This iPad Air is fitted with the A12 Bionic processor, the same processor in the latest iPhone XS and XS Max. In comparison, the newest iPad Pros have the A12x Bionic, which is just an A12 processor with a bit more power for pro users. Apple is also adding support for the first generation Apple Pencil and it also supports the Smart Keyboard as well. Consumers can get almost all of the benefits of an iPad Pro without the hefty price tag that comes with the “pro” name. The New iPad Air starts at $499 USD for a 64GB model and $649 USD for a 256GB model.

iPad mini
The iPad mini is no stranger to multiple refreshes, but thankfully this time Apple has made additions to this small device that bring it up to modern standards. Like the new iPad Air, this iPad mini is granted support for the first generation Apple Pencil. Apple clearly believes that all of its modern tablets should support its stylus and now they all do. The new iPad mini’s processor is just as powerful as the new iPad Air. Both devices are equipped with the A12 Bionic chip. This processor is perfect for multitasking and new advancements in Augmented Reality.

Everything isn’t New
Though these iPads are sporting new processors and have access to accessories like the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, they aren’t fitted with Apple’s top of the line technologies. Instead of Face ID, which is featured on the newest iPad pros, the new iPad Air and mini both still feature Touch ID and a home button. These iPads do have Retina displays like most Apple products, but they don’t have the Liquid Retina displays or curved corners like iPad Pros and the iPhone XR. Omissions like these were likely needed to keep costs low for Apple and their consumers.

Coming Full Circle
Apple is releasing these high tech budget friendly iPads with no ulterior motives. Apple is set to unveil its new streaming service on March 25th, and people will need devices with beautiful displays to consume this new content with. Apple has its eyes on the bigger picture, more Apple devices mean more subscribers to their various services.

Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference Will begin on June 3rd

 

WWDC, Apples World Wide Developers Conference, will be held this year on June 3rd, 2019. If you are unfamiliar with Apple’s WWDC event, it is a showcase for Apple’s upcoming software releases. Most notably Apple will be revealing the new features coming in iOS 13.
Viewers should also expect an update to MacOS, WatchOS, and TvOS.

The tagline for this year’s event is “Write code. Blow minds”. Apple’s cryptic tagline usually is a hint to a talking point of their presentation. I think this particular phrase is hinting at providing development tools across its range of devices. Apple famously addressed rumors at last year’s WWDC that they “Are Not” merging MacOS and iOS. They did, however, announce that they will start development on apps that function across platforms. I believe that Xcode, Apple’s programming app, will be coming to iOS this year. In particular, I believe the iPad Pro will be the first iOS device to receive Xcode.

Apple does not usually release hardware during WWDC, though they have in the past. Apple has a fair number of upcoming products in the pipeline, including its previously teased modular Mac Pro. Perhaps their new Mac Pro will get its debut during WWDC this year.

iOS users especially will be excited to see what changes are coming to iOS 13 as the software has virtually kept the same design language since iOS 7 and most users are itching for a change in the user interface.

With less than 3 months until WWDC, the wait won’t be long to see the future of Apple’s various software platforms and potential new devices.

Apple Announces Surprise Event for March 25th 

In a cryptic press release, Apple confirms what many tech analysts had predicted. There will be a March Keynote.  The tagline for their press release says “It’s Show Time”. Analysts predict Apple will finally be revealing its long-rumored streaming TV platform to rival Netflix and the like. If this is true Apple has managed to keep a tight seal on any exclusive deals and or partners to help bolster their launch. 

Apple is also expected to offer a paid version of its News services. Apple is doing this in an effort to streamline monetization of news and written media from various outlets across its platforms. 

As for hardware, Apple is rumored to have some products in the queue for Q1 of this year. It is, however, unclear if Apple will risk overshadowing their services announcement by announcing new products.

Air Pods 2, Air Power wireless charger, a new iPod touch, and a refreshed iPad are all expected to be announced or quietly released during this event or shortly followed after at a later date. 

With the decline of iPhone sales and the slowing of annual upgrades, Apple is betting on a new line of services to bring in new streams of revenue.