A Sea of Services Success (and One Glaring Failure)

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Eddy “The Butler” on a year of Services, trouble and opportunity in India, and shapes in action. 

Eddy ‘The Butler’ on a Year of Services

The state of Apple Services is awesome — so says the guy who runs Apple Services. The Cupertino-company issued a press release Tuesday that was heavy on promotion and light on data. It started with a fairly “rah-rah” open letter from Apple Senior VP of Services Eddy “the Butler” Cue. Basically, he thinks it’s neat how much stuff we have at our fingertips, and he’s stoked the part Apple gets to play. 

As far as data — the press release was pretty light, as I say. According to one infographic in the release, there are currently “900 million paid subscriptions across Apple services,” and “$320 billion [have been] paid to developers selling digital goods and services since [the App Store’s inception in] 2008.”  

In copy tied specifically to the App Store, Apple says the place with apps for that welcomes “more than 650 million visitors,” each week. They pour in from “across 175 regions,” according to the company.

Running down a few more numbers:

  • Apple Arcade has over 200 games
  • Apple Music still has over 100,000,000 songs
  • There have been over 70-billion Shazam audio identifications
  • Apple Fitness+ serves 21 countries with 3,500 workouts and meditations

There was, of course, plenty of other stuff/fluff about other Apple Services, including Apple TV+, the company’s News and News+ offerings, its various payment products, Books, Maps, Podcasts and the company’s live Sports push. 

Calling the Ball

On those last two, there was news not included in “the Butler’s” open letter/press release. Looking first to sports, a piece from AppleInsider says Apple TV+ has named the broadcast teams for MLS Season Pass, though it sounds like you might be able to ignore them? According to the report, viewers in Canada and the US can “choose their home team’s radio for broadcast audio on the Apple TV app where it’s available.” Syncing those up sounds practically miraculous to me, but we’ll see. Or some will, anyway. 

A reminder about the service itself — Apple TV+ subscribers can get MLS Season Pass for $12.99-per-month or for a discounted annual price of $79. Folks who aren’t subscribed to Apple TV+ can get MLS Season Pass for $14.99-per-month or $99 per season. AppleInsider says matches will ‘cast on “Saturdays and select Wednesdays at 7:30 PM local time starting February 1.” 

A Plus for Premium Podcasters

On the Podcasts front, the Cupertino-company seems to have made life easier for premium podcasters on Tuesday. A piece from 9to5Mac says Apple has flipped the switch on Delegated Delivery for podcasts. Basically, this means that they’ll be able to publish paid content directly to Apple Podcasts from a select group of hosting platforms, rather than having to create special posts through Apple’s back end. 

This has been a long time coming, and the road seems to have been rocky. When Delegated Delivery was announced in May of last year, indications were that it would be live in the fall with seven hosting services. Now, it’s gone live in the winter with four, including Blubrry, Libsyn, Omny Studio, and RSS.com. Other hosting services are expected to be added later this year, according to the 9to5Mac piece. More info is available on Apple’s site at podcasters.apple.com.

TechCrunch: App Stores Rife with Costly, Useless ‘ChatGPT’ Apps

Cool as the App Store may be (according to the guy who runs the App Store), it’s not without its troubles. A piece from TechCrunch says both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store have been flooded with weak-sauce ChatGPT applications. 

ChatGPT isn’t weak-sauce. It’s… fascinating. The problem is, it’s also attained buzzword status, leading some developers to capitalize on the name without a real product. TechCrunch says unsavory sorts are trying to make money on the ChatGPT buzz by adding the word “pro” to their apps, and charging for credits to use a service that is free to use. According to TechCrunch:

It’s important to remember that ChatGPT is free to use for anyone on the web and OpenAI hasn’t released any official mobile app. While there are plenty of apps that take advantage of GPT-3, there is no official ChatGPT API.

While some of the apps claiming to be ChatGPT-affilaited are free, they offer weekly or monthly subscriptions that are — again — completely unnecessary. TechCrunch says it’s unclear whether Apple and Google “are actively taking any action on these apps.” Neither company had responded to the site’s request for comment at the time of the article’s publication. 

Google and Apple and India

Google: Directive from Indian Government Could Grind Android to a ‘Halt’

Potentially good news for Apple in India comes in the form of bad news for Google. TechCrunch has the search-giant warning that an antitrust order issued by the Indian government may stall the growth of Android on the subcontinent. Issued last year by the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the piece says the order:

…found that Google had abused its dominant position in the market for mobile operating systems by imposing restrictive contracts on mobile manufacturers.

It sounds as if Google was keeping device makers from installing apps and services that rivaled or could challenge Google’s apps and services. The CCI has ordered the US company to alter manufacturing contracts, giving device makers the go-ahead to install services and applications from potential Google competitors. 

But that’ll take time — time that Google will use to challenge the CCI’s directive. “According to a Reuters report,” according to TechCrunch:

…Google filed a challenge with India’s Supreme Court and said that the order would require some modifications of its existing contracts and new license agreements. It would alter the company’s existing arrangements with over 1,100 device manufacturers and thousands of app developers.

And that could derail the robo-train. In its filing with the Indian Supreme Court, Google said:

Tremendous advancement in growth of an ecosystem of device manufacturers, app developers and users is at the verge of coming to a halt because of the remedial directions… 

‘I’ is for India and iPhone

Of course, Apple’s not waiting for Google to sink before trying to raise itself in India. A piece from 9to5Mac says exports of iPhones made in India are expected to hit $3 billion in fiscal year 2023. The site sees that as a bad news/good news combo. The bad — $3B is small next to the roughly $192 billion in iPhone sales Apple reported for fiscal year 2022. The good — the $3 billion expected from India this fiscal year is more than double the amount the country cranked out over the same period a year earlier. That lessens Apple’s dependence on China, even if only a little bit. 

It is worth noting, as the piece does, that only some of the iPhones made in India were made for export. That would seem to indicate a growing market for Apple’s phones in the country. One assumes Apple’s banking on that idea as it begins staffing-up for an unannounced (though very much anticipated) retail push with stores of its own in India.

New Round of OS Betas Seeded to Apple’s Developer Program

Happy New Year, developers — new toys for you. Well, updated anyway. AppleInsider ran a piece Tuesday saying that Apple had seeded the second betas of iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3, tvOS 16.3, and watchOS 9.3 to members of the developer program. Additionally, a piece from MacRumors said same goes for macOS Ventura 13.2. 

Barring catastrophe, one might easily expect those to hit Apple’s public beta program today or tomorrow. 

Apple TV+ Drops Trailer for Kids’ Show ‘Shape Island’

And finally today, you can see the shapes from “Shape Island” in action. I told you about this upcoming kids’ show for Apple TV+ last week. Describing it then, Apple’s press release said:

This clever, funny and inspiring new stop-motion animated series from Apple TV+ takes place on a charming island and invites viewers to join serious Square, intrepid Circle and tricky Triangle on their silly adventures as they dig up some fun, search for answers and build on their friendship — all while learning how to navigate each other’s differences.

I have to say, in an age of computer animated everything, there’s a certain charm to the stop-motion angle.

“Based on the internationally bestselling picture books from Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen,” the show “Shape Island” hits Apple TV+ on Friday, Jan. 20. Between now and then, you can catch the trailer on YouTube.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I kick around some of the Apple Services stuff, with a focus on the chintzy ChatGPT ripoff apps. Plus — Jeff’s been reading up on using Artificial Intelligence to fight real world illness. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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