Apple TV+ is launching its first podcast that will serve as a companion to the show ‘For All Mankind,’ the Apple Original series that imagines a world where the Soviet Union was first to land on the Moon. Trailers for the podcast, which is hosted by cast member Krys Marshall, are available on Apple Podcasts and YouTube. The first full episode will be published Friday, February 19th at 9:00 am US Pacific time, which is also when the first episode of season two of For All Mankind will be available.
‘For All Mankind: The Official Podcast’ is being produced in partnership with AT WILL MEDIA, a Manhattan and Los Angeles-based media production company that has produced shows like The Choice for The New York Times. New episodes of the TV show will debut at 9:00 am US Pacific time each Thursday, with new episodes of the 10-episode podcast coming out every other week on Fridays at the same time.
Podcast host Krys Marshall, who plays Commander Danielle Poole on For All Mankind, will be joined by space experts, former astronauts, and people involved in creating the TV show, providing a mix of science and behind-the-scenes details about the show. The show is available in the Apple Podcasts app as well as third-party podcast players via RSS.
You can listen to the trailer for ‘For All Mankind: The Official Podcast’ below:
February is Black History Month, and Apple has announced a long list of ways it is celebrating across its products and services. In a press release the company said:
Apple is bringing customers a variety of new and updated collections and exclusive content that highlight and amplify Black creators, artists, developers, and businesses. From curated features across the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple TV app, Apple Books, and Apple Podcasts, to new Apple Maps Guides, the Apple Watch Black Unity Collection, Today at Apple sessions, and more, here is a look at what is in store across Apple’s products and services this February.
In the App Store, Apple is featuring stories with Black developers and highlighting social justice apps along with entertainment and gaming apps. The month-long feature extends to other services too:
- Music will feature Black musicians and include related content like playlists, essays, videos, and custom artwork
- Maps Guides, which has seen many updates recently, will feature Black-owned businesses in collaboration with EatOkra
- The Apple TV App will include ‘Essential: Stories That Honor Black Families,’ plus two free episodes of The Oprah Conversation featuring ‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents’ by author Isabel Wilkerson
- Apple News will have curated topic groups and Apple Books will showcase a collection of relevant books and audiobooks
- The Podcasts app will highlight Black voices including Michelle Obama, Joe Budden, Phoebe Robinson, and Baratunde Thurston, plus an extended promotion of shows featuring relevant topics
- Fitness+ will spotlight songs from Black artists, and the first Time to Walk episode for February will feature author Ibram X. Kendi who will discuss racial justice and resiliency
- Today at Apple will feature virtual sessions and tutorials moderated by Kimberly Drew with Black artists including typographer Tré Seals, creative director, filmmaker, and photographer Joshua Kissi, and visual artist, photographer, and educator Shan Wallace
- Shot on iPhone will feature 30 Black photographers
On the product side, Apple has introduced the Black Unity Collection that includes a limited-edition Apple Watch 6, a Black Unity Sport Band, and a Unity watch face. Apple is also supporting six groups dedicated to promoting and achieving equality and civil rights in the US and around the world. The Watch and Sports Band will be available beginning February 1st and the watch face will debut with watchOS 7.3, which Apple says will be out later today.
The Black Unity Sports Band and Unity watch face, which changes dynamically as the Watch moves, include the green, red, and black colors of the Pan-African flag, and the Sports Band has ‘Truth. Power. Solidarity’ laser etched on the inside of the band’s fastening pin. Similarly, the limited-edition Watch has ‘Black Unity’ etched in the Watch’s crystal back. Apple will also kick off a special month-long Unity Activity Challenge on February 1st that is achieved by closing Move ring at least seven days in a row.
In a press release today, Apple provided an update on its services. According to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services:
Now more than ever before, customers around the world have found inspiration and value in the breadth and quality of Apple’s services, which have impacted their lives in big and small ways every day. We’re incredibly optimistic about where we’re headed, and we believe that the opportunities for developers and the creative community are endless, as are the positive and meaningful benefits to our customers.
Among the highlights Apple shared are App Store revenue numbers for the 2020 holiday season, which were greater than 2019 for the same period and once again set an all-time record for single-day sales on New Year’s Day:
The trend continued over the holiday season, with App Store customers spending $1.8 billion on digital goods and services over the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, driven largely by spending on games. Customers ushered in 2021 by setting a new single-day spending record of over $540 million on New Year’s Day.
Apple also noted that developers have earned more than $200 billion since the inception of the App Store in 2008 and that it kicked off the App Store Small Business Program at the end of 2020.
In addition to apps, Apple recapped its other services:
- Apple Music, which added several new features in 2020 that Apple says have been used by more than 90% of iOS 14 users
- The Apple TV App, which debuted on new smart TVs and videogame consoles in 2020 and is now available on over 1 billion screens in more than 100 countries
- TV+, which gained a dedicated tab in the TV app and was nominated for 159 awards, receiving 45
- Apple News, which added local news for certain cities, included special coverage of the pandemic, the racial justice movement, and the US election, and added audio to News+ in 2020
- Fitness+, which debuted just before the New Year
- Apple Pay, which Apple says is accepted by more than 90% of US stores, 85% of UK stores, and 99% of Australian stores
- Apple Arcade, which now has more than 140 games with games that have received more than 50 award nominations
- Apple Books, which has over 90 million monthly active users
- Apple Podcasts, which is available in 175 countries and 100 languages
- iCloud, 85% of whose users have enabled two-factor authentication
Every year I’m struck that the App Store continues to set holiday season records for sales. The success of the App Store has been nothing short of remarkable, but as Apple’s press release demonstrates, Apple’s current services story today extends far beyond apps.
Today, Apple launched its previously-announced Apple One subscription bundles, which offer the following three combinations of services:
- Individual – Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for $14.95
- Family – Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of shared iCloud storage for $19.95 for up to six family members
- Premier – Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Fitness+, Apple News+, and 2TB of shared iCloud storage for $29.95 for up to six family members
Compared to paying for each service separately, the Individual plan saves users $6, the Family plan saves $8, and the Premier plan has the greatest savings at $25 but is only available in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia because News+ is limited to those countries. Apple is also offering a 30-day free trial and 3% cash back if you use the Apple Card.
You can currently sign up for an Apple One bundle by going to the App Store on an iOS or iPadOS device and tapping your profile picture in the top right corner of the screen. Tap on your profile at the top of the next screen and then Subscriptions, where you should find a banner promoting Apple One.
If like me, you have separate Apple IDs for iCloud and media purchases, you will be asked to move your storage plan to the Apple ID you use for iCloud, which cancels the old iCloud Storage subscription.
Signing up for the Premier tier was a no-brainer as someone who already paid for 2TB of storage, a Family Apple Music subscription, and Apple Arcade. News+ isn’t something I was willing to pay for separately, but it’s nice to have, and I’m very interested in trying Fitness+ as the weather gets colder here in Chicago, making outdoor walks and runs more difficult.
Lacey Rose at The Hollywood Reporter details a new deal struck between Apple and Jon Stewart:
As part of an expansive, multi-year deal with Apple, the Emmy-drenched former writer, producer and host of The Daily Show is set to front an all new current affairs series for the streaming service. The show, which will run for multiple seasons, puts Stewart back in the anchor’s chair as he explores a host of topics at the center of both the national conversation and his own advocacy work.
Stewart has stayed largely out of the limelight since ending his long and successful run with The Daily Show in 2015, so this is a big get for Apple TV+, and potentially other projects Apple has in the works. For example, the report mentions that a podcast is expected to result from the deal. Most important though is the TV+ series mentioned above, with hourlong episodes each covering a single topic.
Apple’s plans for TV+ in 2020 have been heavily impacted by the current pandemic, resulting in a content slate that’s had more gaps than expected. It looks like the service could be poised for a big 2021.
9to5Mac reports that Apple is automatically extending the free trial for TV+ for existing customers. The free trial available to customers who purchased certain Apple products after September 2019 will be extended until February 2021, adding up to three months more for free. People who are paying monthly or annually for the video streaming service will be given an equivalent amount of store credit that can be used to purchase any content on the iTunes Store.
According to Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac:
These refunds and extensions will be automatically applied to user’s accounts, so customers won’t have to do anything at all to take advantage of Apple’s generosity. Email notifications will be sent out in the coming days.
Separately, Apple announced today that season two of Dickinson will begin on January 8, 2021, which anyone with the extended TV+ free trial will now be able to begin watching before signing up for a paid plan.
I’m not surprised that Apple is extending the TV+ free trial. TV shows from TV+ and other services have been interrupted worldwide due to the pandemic. By extending the free trial, Apple has a chance of hooking viewers on the second season of some of their favorite shows, making it more likely that they will stick around as paying customers after the trial expires.
Today during an event in which Apple revealed new Apple Watch and iPad models, the company also had some big services news to share: to increase adoption of the company’s growing slate of services, a new Apple One bundle will be launching soon to bring together multiple paid services at a discounted price.
Although Apple One doesn’t carry an official release date yet besides simply ‘fall,’ Apple did detail the breakdown of pricing and included services across three different Apple One tiers:
- Individual: Includes Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, and 50 GB of iCloud storage for an individual at $14.95/month, a savings of $6/month.
- Family: Also includes Apple Music, TV+, and Arcade, but with 200 GB of iCloud storage and Family Sharing for all services, at $19.95/month for savings of $8/month.
- Premier: This is the big bundle, including Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, News+, the newly announced Fitness+, as well as 2 TB of iCloud storage for $29.95/month, a savings of $25/month.
The Individual and Family tiers of Apple One will be launching in over 100 countries to reach the widest number of users possible. Premier, however, since it includes services like News+ which are only available in limited territories, will only be available in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia at launch.
When Apple One launches, users will be able to try any of the three tiers with a 30-day free trial for services that they aren’t already paying for. It’s also worth noting that according to Apple’s website, Fitness+ likely won’t be available until after Apple One debuts, since it carries a launch window of ‘Late 2020’ while Apple One is ‘Coming this fall.’
Apple One’s tiered structure makes a lot of sense, and the savings seem pretty enticing, especially for the Premier plan. As someone who already subscribes to every Apple service, Premier will be a no-brainer to me as I’ll gain Fitness+ and a higher iCloud storage plan for less than the $38/month I’m paying right now.
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Apple today announced the first bundle offer that’s ever been available for channels in the company’s TV app. It comes with a unique twist in that the offer is only available for customers who already subscribe to Apple TV+, whether through a paid subscription or as part of their free year of service for purchasing a new Apple product. Apple TV+ subscribers can now subscribe to a bundle of CBS All Access and SHOWTIME for just $9.99 per month following a 7-day free trial. When subscribed to separately, these two channels together would cost $20.98 per month, making this a substantial offer.
Apple’s press release highlights some of the features that make channel subscriptions appealing:
By subscribing through Apple TV channels, customers can watch content from all three services online and offline, ad-free and on demand, only on the Apple TV app. Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share the subscriptions to Apple TV+, CBS All Access, and SHOWTIME using just their personal Apple ID and password.
As someone who has used Apple’s TV app heavily for years, I’ve written before about how much value I find in the channels experience, and how disappointed I am that Apple hasn’t been able to strike more deals for additional channels partners. When Apple TV channels first launched in early 2019, HBO was the most prestigious channel available, but when that service transitioned to become HBO Max, there was no longer a channel option available for Apple users. New streaming services like Disney+ and Peacock haven’t been made available as channels either. So Apple has built a solid TV experience for the streaming age, but it’s not available for the services people care about most. I’m not particularly hopeful that today’s bundle news will change that at all, but it’s good to at least see a little life from the company’s channels initiative.
Apple’s TV strategy has produced a mix of both winning and losing. While I think the company is largely on the right track with its efforts to produce original TV+ content, and it’s also poised to take a cut of many popular streaming services’ revenue via In-App Purchases, I nonetheless think it’s clear that the company’s attempts to offer a great TV experience are failing.