I got my monthly Apple One bill today, for a slightly painful £32.95. I'm on the family plan, so it's already pretty pricey. And now it's going to be even more pricey, because Apple's hiking several of its prices. My plan's going up £4 per month to £36.95 per month; individual plans are up to £18.95 for individual and £24.95 for family plans.
Apple's prices for some of its stand-alone services have gone up too. It's now £8.99 for Apple TV+; £12.99 per month for Apple News+; and £6.99 for Apple Arcade. iCloud, which is hilariously overpriced for what you get, remains at its current rates.
I'm not sure they're still worth the money.
Are Apple's subscription services worth paying for?
It feels like the streamers are egging each other on to see who can charge the most before their subscribers start cancelling, and I'm definitely getting cancel-happy – I've killed my PlayStation Plus subscription and I've moved from Netflix's most expensive to its cheapest plan. But with Apple I'm stuck, because I need the family sharing and iCloud storage. So I don't really have a choice: a downgrade to the individual services I need would only save a pound or two.
But if you're not as embedded in the Apple ecosystem as I am, some of these price hikes are very significant. I think at £8.99 Apple TV+ is still good value – it remains ad-free and while its content library is smaller than the rival streamers, it's generally of very high quality. But the hikes to Apple Arcade and Apple News+ are likely to be deterrents.
At under £5 per month, Apple Arcade was an easy sell: at that price it feels almost free. But at nearly £7 that's close to an Apple TV+ sub, and you're not getting anywhere close to an Apple TV+ level of satisfaction. There are a few fun games in there, for sure. But if Arcade weren't bundled into my Apple One subscription, I wouldn't want to pay to have access to them.
And then there's News+ which, in the UK particularly, is an even harder sell. Like Read.ly, it offers all you can eat access to a wide range of newspapers and magazines. But unlike Read.ly its UK selection is very limited and doesn't seem to have added anything new for ages. The content is odd too: some publications have embraced online reading, but others simply upload images of each page. On my iPad that means a lot of pinching and zooming on the many magazines that love their small fonts, and on my Mac the reading experience is worse than visiting the magazines' websites. Again, if I weren't getting this in a bundle I wouldn't pay for it.
Given how much money Apple has sloshing around, it seems odd to up the price of some of its least compelling services. It may bring in more money from existing subscribers, but I suspect it'll deter many more from signing up and will encourage some Apple One users to downgrade.