Wednesday Morning News

Regardless of how many "initial thoughts" posts on Apple’s event yesterday, a common theme starts to emerge when you realise that Apple’s media-focused event was unlike its regular hardware-focused ones. For starters, two out of the three subscription services announced were without pricing or any kind of firm release date. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and without any real details about how Apple News+, Apple Card, Apple Arcade, or Apple TV+ will work, that makes it hard to analyse how successful each one of Apple’s new services will be. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Not only that, but in the midst of everything that was announced it’s easy to get things mixed up. The Verge clarifies that the TV app on iOS and the Apple TV (and soon, macOS) will let you subscribe to individual content providers, for even more TV shows and movies beyond those already offered via the iTunes Store. Apple TV+, on the other hand, will be Apple’s own original programming library featuring content from everyone Apple brought on stage to talk about their current projects; Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, JJ Abrams’ Little Voice, Jennifer Aniston’s, Reese Witherspoon’s, and Steve Carrell’s The Morning Show, as well as two documentaries from Oprah. It remains to be seen whether any of them will be worth the as-yet-unknown price of entry, but at the very least, they should be available locally when they launch around September.

The one part of the event that is now available, albeit only in the US and Canada, is Apple News+, a subscription-based news and magazine service that provides all-you-can-read access to 241 magazines. MacStories has the full list of magazines, although note that newspapers and digital publishers (i.e. websites) aren’t counted, with about half of those using the more mobile-friendly Apple News Format.

I believe there are still questions regarding what the US$10/month Apple News+ subscription includes, particularly with regards to existing paywalled sites like the Wall Street Journal, where a subscription costs $35/month. A paywalled article at the WSJ says that Apple News+ subscribers will be able to access all content, but only from the past three days or newer. Will there be significant enough changes to warrant subscribing to Apple News+ when it launches in Australia this year? It’s probably too early to tell.

Apple Card was arguably the most compelling offering announced yesterday for those uninterested in magazines, newspapers, or TV shows and movies, which makes it all the more curious that Apple’s own credit card was designed primarily to solve US-based banking and payments problems. As the slide showed, while Australian banks were a little slow on the uptake of Apple Pay, 99% of merchants accept it, and there are few companies that are doing smart things with payments. As one financial analyst claims, Apple Card is far from revolutionary, although it might enough differently to be compelling for Americans. As for its part, Goldman Sachs says it is exploring opportunities to launch Apple Card in international markets.

Apple released iOS 12.2 yesterday to support some of the changes announced on stage. For the rest of us, there’s four new Animoji to have a play with, changes to how the Remote tile works from the iOS 12 Control Centre, and a number of other minor changes as covered by AppleInsider. Apple also released macOS 10.4.4 with Safari Dark Mode and Apple News+ support. And while we’re all waiting for watchOS 5.2 to be released, information in iOS 12.2 suggests the Apple Watch Series 4 ECG feature may be coming to the UK and other European countries when it is finally released.

Also new in iOS 12.2 is a product leak of wire-free PowerBeats Pro. The brand-new Beats product has never been seen before, although they look just like regular PowerBeats, only without a cable between them. The PowerBeats Pro also come with a charging case like AirPods, with the hint that you’ll also be able to charge these wirelessly, like AirPods. No details on pricing or availability, but now the cat’s out of the bag, it shouldn’t be too long.

There’s also a new version of Apple’s Shortcuts app, which is the second major update since October. MacStories says there’s new Apple Notes actions that can be performed in this version, as well as new Travel Time estimates that can be used to tell you when you need to leave for your next appointment or event.

The latest Apple vs Qualcomm verdict has found Apple guilty of infringing on two Qualcomm patents relating to power management and data download speeds, according to The Verge. Now, the International Trade Commission says some iPhones with competing Intel modems might be blocked from entering the US via a trade ban, although the judgement is still pending review by the ITC.

Apple Stores around the world were putting their video walls to good use yesterday, showing a live-stream of Apple’s media event. The piece from 9to5Mac seems to suggest the Apple Stores were showing livestreams of the event, but that should have only been possible for locations where the event lined up with that store’s opening hours. I’m not confident any Australian Apple Stores were open at 4am to show off what Apple had to say, although they may have played back the stream later in the day.

Notable Replies

  1. I wouldn’t call anything related to Goldman Sachs in the least bit “compelling” and personally wouldn’t have anything to do with it

  2. That’s OK, those of us sans prejudices against financial companies will enjoy the benefits of an integrated credit card with all of the privacy and security that Apple offers.

    When they make it available in Australia, of course.

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