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Do You Use It? Apple Services See Widely Varying Popularity

Our last Do You Use It? poll asked which Apple services you pay for and use in an attempt to discern the extent to which TidBITS readers participate in Apple’s ever-more-lucrative subscription services. The allure of some of these services is hard to resist, whereas others seem farther from Apple’s traditional focus.

As I’ve noted previously, Do You Use It? poll results reflect the TidBITS audience, not the overall Apple user base. I suspect this poll’s results are notably different due to TidBITS readers being older than the average Apple user and thus more comfortable with long-standing approaches to working with photos, listening to music, watching TV and movies, reading news, and exercising. (Of course, we’re also smarter, better looking, and more humble than average.)

Overall Results

As expected, Apple’s services are popular with the TidBITS audience. Just 14% of respondents said they didn’t use any of Apple’s services, although their explanations about why they don’t subscribe to any made up a disproportionate number of the comments.

Do You Use It? poll results for Apple services
Blue bars reflect my votes so you can tell the extent to which I match the larger TidBITS audience

A whopping 70% of respondents subscribe to iCloud+. That didn’t surprise me at all—extra iCloud storage is essential for iCloud Photos and enables numerous other features ranging from iCloud Backups to Desktop & Documents folder syncing. More on iCloud+ in a moment.

More surprising were the second and third spots: Apple TV+ with 49% of respondents and Apple Music with 37%. I would have expected those to have been reversed since Apple Music has been around for much longer and is a far more valuable service to me. I listen to music daily on our HomePods around the house, on my Mac while working, and on my iPhone while working out and driving (see “How I Use the iPhone to Listen to Music While Biking,” 3 December 2023).

I’m a good fit for a music streaming service because I’m relatively unsophisticated but musically curious. Poll comments suggest that many TidBITS readers prefer to purchase music—some even on CD—whereas I’ve always hated the uncertainty of buying an album I didn’t know I’d like. (The remaining utility to our shelves of dusty CDs is as visual reminders of artists we can ask Siri to play on our HomePods.) Plus, classical music is popular among TidBITS readers, so many people prefer their own highly curated libraries over even the new Apple Music Classical (see “Apple Music Classical (Mostly) Plays the Right Chords,” 29 March 2023).

In comparison, while we have enjoyed Ted Lasso, Mythic Quest, Slow Horses, and several other Apple TV+ programs, we would watch at most an hour or two per week. (Of the others, Severance was good, if truly odd. For All Mankind became too stressful, so we stopped watching the most recent season. And Lessons in Chemistry somehow manages to be reasonably faithful to the book while completely lacking the humor in Bonnie Garmus’s writing.) We wouldn’t even notice the lack of Apple TV+, and that subscription is on the chopping block very soon, a decision made easier by Apple’s recent rate hike (see “Prices Increase for Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and Apple One,” 25 October 2023).

The trailing positions of Apple News+ (19%), Apple Arcade (10%), and Apple Fitness+ (7%) were unsurprising. Apple News+ has always suffered from a tricky value proposition, given the effectively infinite amount of similar content available for free. Although I suspect few TidBITS readers play Apple Arcade games, some subscribe—often through Apple One, used by 29% of respondents—for kids in the family. Apple Fitness+ could interest an older demographic, but some comments suggested that its overall tone and formula grate on some older people.


iCloud+ subscriptions vary widely, ranging from $0.99 for 50 GB to $59.99 for 12 TB. Apple announced the 6 TB and 12 TB plans only a few months ago (see “Five Unexpected Announcements from Apple’s Wonderlust Event,” 12 September 2023), but there clearly wasn’t any pent-up demand for additional iCloud storage among TidBITS readers since no one voted for either option. On the other end of the spectrum, many people would like Apple to increase the size of the free iCloud plan from the current paltry 5 GB, but Apple has done nothing for those people apart from providing temporary iCloud storage to help iPhone purchasers migrate from an old iPhone.

The 2 TB plan was the most commonly used, with 45% of the votes, followed by 200 GB with 29% and 50 GB with 26%. That fits with my overall belief about the utility of iCloud+ storage. Once you decide to use iCloud Photos to make all your photos available on all your Apple devices, storage needs add up fast. And once you have plenty of storage, it gets easier to use iCloud Drive more heavily.

Do You Use It? poll results for iCloud+

Several people expressed annoyance about subscribing to a particular tier because their data usage pushed them over the edge. I resemble those remarks. As you can see below, I’m using only about 300 GB of the 2 TB plan, some of which is storage used by other family members. Although I could probably winnow that down to fit into 200 GB, running on the edge with iCloud storage wasn’t comfortable (see “How to Deal with Running Out of iCloud, Google, and Dropbox Space,” 17 February 2020). In the long run, it was easier to pay more so I didn’t have to put up with syncing failures and other errors.

Adam's iCloud storage

If Apple introduced 500 GB or 1 TB plans, many people would be happy to downgrade from 2 TB. But Apple isn’t known for leaving money on the table, so don’t expect such plans.

Apple Music and iTunes Match

Although Apple Music didn’t prove as popular as I had expected, those who do subscribe tend to rely on the Family plan, with 61% of voters choosing that option. That makes sense to me, given the extent to which music is more of a personal choice than it used to be in the days of a single household sound system. Everyone in a family is likely to want to curate their own library. I was surprised that a few respondents use the Student plan—it’s a great deal, but I can’t imagine there are many students among the wider TidBITS audience who aren’t already on an Apple Music Family plan.

Do You Use It? poll results for Apple Music

When building this poll, I completely forgot about Apple’s $24.99-per-year iTunes Match service, which can be a welcome intermediate option between an entirely purchased library and Apple Music. iTunes Match uploads your music to Apple’s servers and lets you stream that music to your other Apple devices.

iTunes Match

Quite a few poll respondents said they subscribe to iTunes Match and like using it. Since iTunes Match competes with Apple Music, it’s unsurprising that Apple hides it behind tiny text at the bottom of the iTunes Store page that might require toggling a setting to display in the Music app—Douglas Adams would be impressed with Apple’s burying of the information. Apple would probably prefer to drop iTunes Match entirely but doesn’t want to anger long-time subscribers.

Apple One

Lastly, we come to the Apple One bundles, which provide significant savings if you actually use enough of the services included in each plan. For instance, I currently subscribe to the $37.95 Apple One Premier plan but use only the 2 TB of iCloud+ storage, the family plan of Apple Music, and Apple TV+, which together cost $36.97, making Apple One Premier more expensive. If I drop Apple TV+ as planned, I’d be paying $26.98 for iCloud+ and Apple Music, which would seem to point toward the $25.95 Apple One Family plan, but it includes only 200 GB of iCloud+, making it a non-starter.

Apple One plans

Apple is in the business of making money, not helping users save money, but a more consumer-friendly discount would provide a flat 40% discount (less than any of the current plan discounts) to users who subscribe to multiple Apple services.

All that said, 29% of respondents subscribe to Apple One, with 49% of those people choosing the Apple One Family plan. 37% pony up for the Apple One Premier, while just 14% find Apple One Individual worthwhile.

Do You Use It? poll results for Apple One

Which Apple services and bundles you choose depends on your preferences and experiences—there is no single best approach. But I hope this poll has given you some insight into how your decisions compare to those of other TidBITS readers.

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Comments About Do You Use It? Apple Services See Widely Varying Popularity

Notable Replies

  1. I missed the poll, but I have NZ’s version of Apple One, which includes all except Apple News (News not available in NZ, yet, hopefully), and All but 1 feature of iTunes Match is available with Apple Music. Thats the promise of uploaded music always being available without DRM. While Apple Music is DRM heavy, that is any content not specifically purchased in the Music store will be DRM’ed, including uploaded music that has been matched. This is the main reason why I still subscribe to iTunes Match, while also using Apple Music through Apple One.

  2. I AM DONE WITH ICLOUD. Ever since reloading Sonoma onto my laptop, calendar and reminders no longer sync. And while trying to resolve this, I wiped out the calendar on my phone, because SOME BLEEPING IDIOT AT APPLE THINKS THAT WHATEVER IS IN ICLOUD MUST OVERWRITE WHAT’S ON A DEVICE.

    Furthermore, Apple’s support for iCloud problems has been basically a collection of broken promises. I was promised a response on the previous problem I had with Contacts duplicating every contact in my list 4 times on iCloud, and then having that crap back-sync to my phone. I got to the 2nd tier of support. “We’ll get back to you.” Never happened.

    WTF is wrong with Apple these days? It used to be the few times I called Support I could depend on them being fully responsive, with callbacks/followthrough and with people who actually understood the underlying technology. Mebbe it’s that iCloud is such a disaster that no one in Apple Tech Support has any clue what’s going on.

  3. I like to think they represent the best of the Apple audience…

  4. Thanks Adam this was very helpful I do not and never will use Fitness, Arcade or News so why do I have to pay for them?

  5. I appreciate this is intended as a summary thread rather than a discussion place but it would be so good to be able to ‘trade’ options for Apple One. I would happily trade Arcade and Fitness+ for another 6Tb of iCloud. Give each service a value and choose x number of value points for your subscription.

  6. If you choose the basic Apple One it is possible to add another 200 GB of iCloud storage separately. I have 400 GB that way.

  7. Wait, really? How do you do that?

  8. Step 1 subscribe or downgrade to Apple One with 200 GB. Step 2 subscribe to iCloud+ for another 200 GB. If I remember well it was very easy, just not obvious. Both with the same Apple ID of course. Maybe the (Dutch) settings are visible here: Tresorit Web Downloader

  9. We really only want the 2TB iCloud, Apple TV and Music. Ala cart pricing before taxes is barely under $37 which is the price of the bundle.

    The Apple tax does get tiresome as it is so pervasive.

    On the hardware side, the SSD upgrade prices are truly extreme. I have used OWC for memory and drives since they started which allowed for truly custom equipment that did not sink the bank account.

    My 2018 model Mac mini was custom configured with 8GB or Apple memory, 10Gb ethernet, the 2TB SSD and the Intel i7 cpu. I changed out the 8GB Apple memory for OWC 64GB (2 chips) that cost $372 vs Apple’s $1,400 price for the same amount of memory. The 2TB SSD was a $1,600 up charge pushing the mini to over $3,000 with sales tax and Apple Care.

    The M3 Pro chips have a significant geometry change reducing memory bus speed to 150 Gb/s vs the 200 Gb/s of the M2 Pro. Moving files as server is memory intensive so I ordered a M2 Pro mini that can have only 32GB of memory, 10Gb ethernet, 2TB SSD and the upgraded processor. Military discount price with tax is $2,650 without Apple care which I will add later. This is much less expensive than the i7 mini, especially since it had OWC memory, and hopefully have more performance as a server.

  10. I was going to suggest exactly the same thing. The two subscriptions for iCloud are additive. I discovered that by accident when I first subscribed to Apple One Premier and ended up with 4TB, which was way more than I need. My wife and I use only about 400GB combined, which is still too much for the 200+200 scheme but for Adam, it would be ideal.

  11. I’m not at all surprised that Apple TV+ came out ahead of Apple Music in the Do you use it survey results. Apple TV+ has no rival for its content, whereas I can listen to the same song on Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal or Qobuz. Personally, I’m keeping Apple TV+, even with the rate hike, as it has some of the highest-quality content and there’s always something worth streaming. I recently had a deal on Peacock for 99¢/month, and went the full year without watching a single show.

    I’m a bit disappointed that there hasn’t been more interest in Apple News, which is only included in the Premier tier of Apple One. We tried Apple News for free when it first came out and then signed up for a few months, but dropped it because I just didn’t have the time to read all the magazines I’d planned to read. It didn’t take long to realize how much of the news feeds we enjoyed were only available with a paid subscription. Hence we resubscribed and later switched to Apple One Premier. Admittedly, my wife and I are news junkies, but Apple News is a really great deal for people who like to read.

    Case in point, my wife has been a subscriber to The New Yorker for years. A subscription costs $10/mo, whether for the print edition, digital or both. That’s a huge chunk of the cost of Apple News right there, although talking my wife into giving up the printed copy took years. Now, she’s fully onboard. Additionally, I used to subscribe to National Geographic, Smithsonian, Scientific American and Newsweek (not all at the same time), but gave up subscribing when I just didn’t have the time to read them all and they accumulated into large stacks, waiting to be read. Now, with Apple News, I have access to all of them and more and can quickly skip them for articles of interest without feeling guilty for skipping all the rest. I really like how Apple News uses my personal interests to show my articles of particular interest from a variety of sources that I’d have never seen otherwise.

    The biggest disappointment is Fitness+ which seems to be more oriented to attracting fitness freaks who like to exercise with their favorite celebrities leading the way. What I’d like to have is a personal fitness routine that’s personalized to my age, physique and personal interests, and adapted to my own rate of progress. Indeed, the fitness app on my Apple Watch uses ridiculous metrics to try to motivate me and it fails to allow for rest and recovery. Neither the fitness app nor Fitness+ even can tell me where I should begin. If it weren’t for my background, I’d be lost. I’ve read rumors that Apple is working on an AI-based fitness service - I just hope they don’t charge even more for it.

  12. Agreed - it’s actually the service I’m missing the most since dropping Premier.

    Another ‘me too’. Whilst I didn’t read them as thoroughly as I did the print editions, there were several magazines I still enjoyed courtesy of Apple News.

    Once again I’m with you. The Fitness+ routines I looked at were largely loud, brash trainers screaming faux encouragement. I don’t intend to offend in saying this, but they’re just a bit too ‘American’ for me. I’m a little more ‘low gloss’ and laid back.
    I understand some may enjoy this but a variety of routines or programs targeted at specific age groups and fitness levels would be great. It would be easy to go down an age level if yours was too easy or go up an age level if it was too hard. I’d be happy to see things like swim or run programs (0-5k etc).

    I think Fitness + has incredible potential but it needs broader appeal.

  13. Oh, fascinating. I’ll have to think about this a bit. What might work is keeping my current Apple One Premier subscription but adding an iCloud+ 200 GB subscription (so I have 2.2 TB but only 300 GB used) and then downgrading to Apple One Family, thus changing my total to (400 GB available and 300 GB used). I’d worry that doing it in the wrong order could confuse iCloud significantly, if I ever had more data than capacity.

  14. I would think Apple would correct this eventually, of course they are probably more interested in having subscribers across multiple services (for now).

    Sidebar comment: One thing that frustrates me is that you cannot do one-time purchases of movies or series on AppleTV+. It can only be done on the Apple TV app, which is not confusing at all. :roll_eyes: Somehow Amazon and YouTube managed to keep everything in one interface. If they created a portal to buy movies and series it would be a simple matter to add a pop-up warning before commit just as Amazon does. The credit card data is already there.

  15. Funny you should ask:

    Note that affects only Apple TV. Nothing changes yet on other Apple hardware.

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