By Jason Snell
September 17, 2020 2:39 PM PT
Service Station: An Apple announcement that saves me money
Good news! Apple just announced a service that might actually save you money. Or you could just ignore it, and that’s fine too. It’s AppleOne, the new bundle of a bunch of existing Apple services that can, depending on how you look at it, either save you money or get you an Apple subscription service you’re lukewarm on for cheap or free.
Let’s consider the shape of this bundle.
Apple Music: This is the core of the bundle, if you ask me. If you’re someone who prefers Spotify to Apple Music, I don’t think any of Apple’s bundles will satisfy you. If you don’t care, or prefer Apple Music, Apple’s bundle might make it worth your while to switch.
iCloud: You should be backing up your iOS devices. iCloud storage space lets you do that, and that’s why it’s worth paying for. Apple doesn’t provide users with enough free iCloud space, so bundling in iCloud storage is a good idea—you should probably be paying for some regardless. That said, I’m disappointed that Apple thinks 50GB (or 200GB for families) is sufficient. All of Apple’s iCloud tiers could stand to be hiked up a little bit, if you ask me.
Apple TV+: Apple’s video streaming service is about a year old, and shortly all of those one year free trials will begin to come due. At $5 per month, Apple TV+ isn’t too expensive, but it’s still an expense—and one that I haven’t even begun to pay! But I have to admit, Apple’s strategy of letting me try their service for a year has had the desired effect. I have been delighted with numerous shows on Apple TV+, including “For All Mankind”, “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet”, “Central Park”, “The Morning Show”, and at the moment, “Ted Lasso”, which might be the best of the bunch. (Seriously.)
Apple Arcade: For a service that seemed to have it all, I seem to have stopped playing Apple Arcade games. I hope that this is just a bit of a sag as Apple shifts gears from what it thought Apple Arcade would be to what it actually is. But I admit to having given some thought to dumping the service entirely, once I check in with my family to make sure that they’re not addicted to an Apple Arcade game I’m not playing. But as a part of a bundle, access to Apple Arcade seems reasonable.
Apple is bundling those four services together for $15 (for an individual) or $20 (for a family). If you want three of those four services, you’ll save money. It’s not a bad deal.
The AppleOne Premier bundle, on the other hand, is a hefty $30 combination of those four services and two others:
Apple News+: I’ve been critical of this service, which relies on the unpleasant News app and doesn’t exactly feature a must-have collection of content. I recently did a one-month trial of Apple News+, and I was surprised that it did have some value. No, I don’t use News to read the news every day, but thanks to the new URL-intercepting features Apple has added to iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur, News+ has done a pretty good job of redirecting me from paywall links on the web to full, unlocked stories in the News app. I wouldn’t pay $5 a month for the privilege, but unlocking a bunch of additional stories on the Web as a part of a larger bundle is something to build on.
Apple Fitness+: A new service Apple introduced this week that’s due later this year, Fitness+ features fitness classes for all levels, including beginners. (I recently ran my first 5K, which was great, but I still could use some advice and training about other forms of exercise.)
I figure I’d probably try Fitness+ at some point, but I will definitely be using it because it’s part of the Premier bundle, and I will be buying the Premier bundle.
The reason is simple: like a lot of you (at least, those of you in the countries in which all these services are offered), I’m already paying Apple $30/month for this stuff! I pay $10 a month for 2 TB of iCloud storage for backups and my photo library, $5 for Arcade, $15 for an Apple Music family subscription, and will shortly be paying $5 more for Apple TV+. That’s $34.87. For $30, I’ll get all of that, plus some extra news-source access from News+ and access to fitness courses from Fitness+. It’s a no-brainer.
On Tuesday after the Apple event I talked to a friend who uses one Apple service and not of the others. He expressed some disappointment about AppleOne, but I prefer to look on the bright side: Apple’s still selling each one of these services individually, so nobody is going to be forced into a bundle they don’t want to be in. But if you’re already partaking in a couple of Apple’s services, the AppleOne bundle is an opportunity to pick up additional services for cheap or free or, in the most extreme circumstances (meaning me), for you to add services and still save money!
It’s been a long time since an Apple announcement saved me money rather than costing me money. I’ll take it as a win.