Apple front-loaded its “Spring Loaded” event with a series of appetizer announcements about the Apple Card, podcasts, and a new iPhone finish. None are all that major, so we’ve collected them here.
Financial Fun for the Whole Family
Since time immemorial (roughly corresponding to the introduction of the Diners Club card in 1950), spouses and offspring have been asking to borrow another family member’s credit card to make a purchase or demanding a credit card of their own. Many amusing family meetings have resulted as household members attempted to account for their purchases when the monthly bill arrived. Now Apple is stepping into this delightful family minefield with its new Apple Card Family.
With Apple Card Family, a service available starting in May 2021, two people can co-own one Apple Card, sharing and merging their credit lines and benefiting equally from the shared credit history. In addition, Apple Card Family lets parents share an Apple Card with their children—including setting spending limits and controls—using an updated Family Sharing service.
Under Apple Card Family, an Apple Card customer can add as many as five people to an Apple Card account as long as those people are all part of the same Family Sharing group and are at least 13 years old. For businesses, co-owners will be able to share a single Apple Card account, enabling the consolidation of business expenses and accounting.
The devil, as usual, is in the details, and when the service becomes available, we suggest you read all the accompanying statements and caveats that come with signing on to the service, since the road to hell is paved in part with misunderstanding liabilities and financial responsibilities associated with credit cards. Nonetheless, aside from making Apple just a bit more money, Apple Card Family promises to make managing family finances in an age of credit cards and digital purchases a little bit easier and more useful. We’ll know in a few months whether that promise has been fulfilled.
Pay to Play
Apple has a new spin on podcasts: subscriptions. Wait, what? Couldn’t you subscribe to podcasts already? Well, yes, you could, but not to these sorts of podcasts. Starting in May 2021, in over 170 countries, Apple’s Podcasts app will support “premium subscriptions.” And by “premium,” Apple means that you pay for them.
Naturally, Apple is not going to suddenly charge for the (literally) millions of podcasts available via the Podcasts app. Instead, the company will provide podcast creators with the tools to create new pages for their podcasts, organize shows into channels, and offer paid “premium” subscribers ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series.
A revised Podcasts app in iOS 14.5 will support these features. It will include an enhanced Search tab that provides quick access to Top Charts and categories and a new Smart Play button that starts playing from the beginning of the latest episode or the start of a series. Listeners will also be able to download individual episodes for offline playback.
For those who wish to offer premium podcasts, Apple has unveiled the new Apple Podcasters Program through which they can craft and deliver their shows—it costs $19.99 per year. Apple will take a 30% cut on the first year of a subscription and drop that to 15% after a year if auto-renew is enabled. As far as we can see, the deal isn’t exclusive, so podcasters can still sell ads and sponsorships directly as well. Podcast creators will be able to set their own prices for their premium services.
Whether or not they offer premium podcasts, podcasters will soon be able to get more information about their audiences with new performance metrics and visualization tools.
Jason Snell reports that one of the rights that Apple asks for, though creators can opt out, is the ability to create and distribute transcripts. That could be a boon for podcasters who lack the resources to develop such transcripts on their own.
Someone said—probably in a podcast—that in the future, everyone will have a podcast. If so, Apple is making it easier to monetize those podcasts—and, of course, skim a little profit off for itself as well.
The Color Purple
Finally, several people of my acquaintance will be delighted that Apple now offers its iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini models in an “all-new stunning purple finish.” Others will be frustrated that this new hue has become available only after they purchased their iPhones.
No matter how you feel about it, purple iPhones are now an option. Should purple be your pigment of preference, you can order one starting on 23 April 2021, with delivery on 30 April 2021.
None of the above tidbits from the Spring Loaded event are sufficiently earth-shaking to do more than jostle a seismograph needle. Still, they reveal that Apple is not letting the grass grow under its feet (verdant as the lawn at Apple Park looked) when it comes to finding additional ways to monetize its offerings, both large and small. Now, if only Apple would release an iPhone in brown—oh, wait, Microsoft already tried that with Zune.