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Three key moments from Apple's March Special Event
Last week Apple’s highly anticipated Special Event introduced a host of new subscription services to consumers. In an uncharacteristic move, the launch of actual hardware was fed out as part of the build-up rather than the main event, leaving the primary focus on Apple’s new venture: media.
The launch of a brand-new news site, video subscription service and games platform tell us that Apple is finally beginning to position itself as a serious media owner, and if that wasn’t enough—it’s taking on the finance world too with the launch of new credit card: Apple Card.
For businesses and consumers used to device launches, it was a lot to take in. Here’s our take on some of the more memorable moments from the March event.
Apple News Plus champions privacy
The event kicked off with the debut of Apple News Plus, Apple’s revamp of its news platform that will host up to 300 magazines as well as leading news outlets like The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.
Despite beautifully animated front covers and a roster of impressive media, the biggest cheer came as it was announced that advertisers will not be able to track what you read on Apple News Plus, meaning users won’t be inundated with targeted ads while using the service.
For many, it was a welcome swipe at its fellow tech giants who regularly come under scrutiny for how they store and use customer data.
Apple positioned Apple News Plus as a safe space where you can digest news without leaving a trail of personal information in the hands of hungry advertisers. "What you read about on Apple News Plus will not follow you across the web," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Apple Card, eSIM and ditching tangible plastic
Positioned by Apple as the new disruptive payment card, Apple Card works as an extension of Apple Pay. Issued by Goldman Sachs and set to launch on the Mastercard network this summer, the card has some pretty powerful backing.
The card itself has no visible numbers, just your name. Your details are instead stored far more discreetly in the wallet app. And while the shiny new titanium card looks nice, Apple Card is designed for digital use. Users are rewarded more for making purchases through Apple Pay in the form of a 2% cashback system on whatever you buy. Purchases made on the physical card only merit a 1% reward, encouraging users to use Apple Pay as their primary payment solution.
This is not the first move Apple has made towards ditching clunky plastic models. Earlier this month it was announced that the latest iterations of the iPad – the iPad Mini and iPad Air – are both eSIM enabled, meaning that these devices don’t need a plastic SIM card to run.
These announcements signify a more transparent experience for its users. With Apple Card hosting an interest calculator, push notifications for bill reminders and spending summaries, users will have a better insight (and therefore more control) over their finances. With eSIM, consumers can switch carriers in an instant, without having to change the physical SIM in their device, giving the power back to the user to decide on the best deals, service and experience.
Apple TV Plus and interoperability
Perhaps one of the most anticipated announcements was that of Apple TV Plus, Apple’s new TV subscription service which will feature both original shows, exclusive to Apple, and additional programmes from the likes of Showtime and HBO. While Apple TV Plus has naturally been pitted against Netflix as a rival streaming service, its focus on original programmes – rather than a vast archive of films and television – is, for the moment, keeping them from any serious rivalry.
What is interesting to note, however, is that Apple TV Plus will be available on Samsung Smart TVs this spring, and additional TVs from the likes of Sony, LG and Visio later down the line. This is a rare incidence where Apple technology will be available to use outside of an Apple device. It signifies a move towards interoperability for Apple—a brand that has, until now, tended to keep its technical prowess for itself.
As near as this spring, we will be able to watch Apple original programmes on a Samsung TV set. Does this mean one day we will see Apple applications on rival devices, as interoperability and the combination of brand ecosystems becomes more appealing to the tech giant? It’s certainly an exciting prospect.