A complete guide to Apple Subscription Services: Pricing, Availability, and more

A complete guide to Apple Subscription Services: Pricing, Availability, and more

Apple has a long history when it comes to online services — both free and paid ones. Over time, some were discontinued, while others have evolved into upgraded versions that better serve the modern world and suit users’ needs. One of the most known services today is iCloud. It allows users to store up to 5GB of data in the cloud for free. However, there are plenty of other ones to discover and know about. Whether you have an iPhone 13 or a MacBook Pro 2021, here’s a complete guide to Apple Subscription Services.

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Separate Services

iCloud+

iCloud description from Apple.com

Apple launched iCloud back in June 2011. It came as a polished service that bundles some of MobileMe’s features with new ones. MobileMe was first introduced in June 2008 as a push-focused service. So users wouldn’t have to initiate a connection to get new emails and keep their contacts up to date on all devices. MobileMe was then discontinued by the end of July 2012, as iCloud offered a stabler, more feature-rich experience.

iCloud offers all users 5GB of free cloud storage. It’s also behind the data sync mechanism between Apple devices, when enabled. You can store data including:

  • Documents
  • Photos and videos
  • Messages
  • Mail
  • App data
  • Health records
  • iDevice full backups
  • Calendars
  • Notes
  • Contacts
  • Safari bookmarks and configurations
  • Siri personal knowledge

iCloud is one of the notable services that powers up the Apple ecosystem. The sync between devices is instant and automatic. While many users take advantage of it for free, a lot find themselves facing the “iCloud Storage Is Full” alert. Apple allows users to expand their cloud storages to 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB for a monthly fee of $0.99, $2.99, or $9.99 respectively.

iCloud+ is the rebranded iCloud paid storage expansion feature that brings more features to the table. When users upgrade to an iCloud+ plan, they can take advantage of Private Relay, Hide My Email, and HomeKit Secure Video, in addition to the extra storage. Once a user upgrades, all iCloud Family members can optionally take advantage of them. It’s worth mentioning that some features are unavailable in some regions. If you’re not sure what this is all about, we have prepared for you a guide on iCloud+.

Music

Apple Music listen now page macOS

Apple’s music streaming service launched back in June 2015. To compete with Spotify, the company initially offered new subscribers 6 months for free. Apple eventually dropped it to 3 months instead. However, users can still claim the 6-month free trial with select AirPods and Beats purchases.

The service is available in over 150 regions, but the catalog varies by country. In the US, there are over 90 million songs and 30 thousand curated playlists. Once you subscribe, you can play any of the available content, add them to your library or playlists, or download them for offline listening.

Some songs on Apple Music come with lyrics view, Dolby Atmos, and Lossless Audio support. So if you’re playing a supported song, you can sing along, listen in Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking, and make sure the quality matches that recorded at the studio.

Apple Music is Siri-enabled, so you can control your queue using just your voice. Whether you’re on your iPhone, Apple Watch, or HomePod, you can ask the virtual assistant to play whatever you feel like listening to. The service also offers live radio stations, so you can listen to random music, interviews, and other radio programs.

There are four plans to choose from when subscribing to this service:

  • Voice — $4.99/month: This plan allows users to access Apple Music by asking or typing to Siri. It includes the entire music catalog but has some limitations, such as accessing your music and the number of downloads you’re allowed to have. It’s perfect for someone who depends more on playlists and radio stations, rather than building their own libraries and wants an ad-free experience. It’s worth mentioning that this plan only works on Apple devices and doesn’t support lyrics view, Dolby Atmos, and Lossless Audio.
  • Student — $4.99/month: This plan allows users to access the same privileges of the Voice plan and more for the same price. Students have to verify their education emails to redeem the offer. However, they can only take advantage of it for up to 48 months in total. A Student plan shares the same features as the Individual plan but for a discounted price. This includes better library management, access on non-Apple devices, lyrics view, Dolby Atmos, Lossless Audio, downloading up to 100,000 songs, and more. This plan also includes free Apple TV+ access, as an exclusive perk when it comes to Apple Music plans.
  • Individual — $9.99/month: This plan includes all Apple Music features with no restrictions. It’s essentially the same as the Student plan but for double the cost and without free Apple TV+ access.
  • Family — $14.99/month: This plan allows up to six iCloud Family members to share an Apple Music subscription. Each member will get their own private, independent user library and personal recommendations. Just like the Student and Individual plans, there are no restrictions in this plan.

You can use the service on Apple devices, web browsers, Windows computers, Android phones and tablets, certain smart speakers and TVs, and consoles.

TV+

Apple TV+ macOS

This service was first announced back in March 2019. It was made available to users in November of that year. At first, the catalog was limited and had very few shows and movies. However, it has slowly grown, and Apple promises new original content every month. Initially, Apple offered 1-year free trials to those who buy eligible devices, but now it has switched to 3-month trials. This change makes sense, considering not many TV series were available when the service first debuted. Now TV+ is mature and has more to offer.

Apple TV+ is available for free when you subscribe to Music’s Student plan. Otherwise, you will have to pay $4.99 per month in the US, following a 7-day trial. Apple only offers one TV+ plan, so for the $4.99 monthly fee, you can share the subscription with your entire iCloud Family. Of course, individual watch histories and recommendations are private and not shared across the family.

This service can be accessed on Apple devices, web browsers, certain smart TVs and sticks, consoles, and through AirPlay-enabled screens. Unlike Apple Music, a dedicated app isn’t available on Windows and Android.

TV Channels

Apple TV Channels macOS

Apple TV Channels allow users to further subscribe to various channels and streaming services directly from within the Apple TV app. Each channel offers different content, features, free trials, and price tags. Some support live TV and on-demand titles, while other ones are exclusively on-demand. Channels usually include free trials, with the most common ones being 1 week or 1 month.

You can access channels from the TV app on Apple devices. Once you add series and movies to the Up Next queue, the watch history will sync across all of your Apple devices. And when a user subscribes to a channel, all iCloud Family members can watch for free on their respective devices.

Channels include popular services, such as Paramount+, AMC+, Epix, Starz, and Showtime. These subscriptions make it easier to access all of the content you watch from one place — the Apple TV app. This way you have a universal queue for everything you’re keeping up with, and you don’t have to switch to a different streaming app when you’re done with a certain show. Additionally, this spares you the hassle of having to create an account for each individual service. You only need your Apple ID, and the billing is done to the card associated with it.

Podcasts

Podcast Subscriptions macOS

Apple announced Podcast Subscriptions earlier this year. They allow users to subscribe to a certain channel or podcast for exclusive content. Just like Apple TV Channels, the content, free trial length, and price tags differ, depending on the channel or podcast.

If you’re an avid podcast listener, these subscriptions will give you further access to your favorite creators’ releases. From news, to informative and entertaining podcasts, there’s something for everyone. The best part? Once you subscribe, your entire iCloud Family will get to listen for no additional charges.

Arcade

Apple Arcade on macOS

Apple launched Apple Arcade in over 150 countries back in 2019. It’s available for $4.99 per month in the US and supports iCloud Family sharing. When buying an eligible Apple device, you get a 3-month free trial. The service currently offers over 200 ad-free games that you can play offline and have no in-app purchases. iCloud will also sync your progress across your Apple devices.

This subscription service offers both old, remastered games, such as Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition and new releases such as Creaks from Amanita Design. Game developers aren’t allowed to release any of the Arcade titles on Android. So you will find them either exclusively on Arcade or on PC and consoles as well. Apple continues to add new games to the catalog every month.

Most games offered through the service are available on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, with some titles also available on tvOS. Once you subscribe, you can play for as many hours as you’d like. However, if you cancel your subscription, you will lose access to them all, until you start paying again. So you’re basically renting the games for as long as you want to pay. None of the games on Arcade are available as a one-time purchase on the App Store. So if you like a particular game, you’re locked into paying until you’re bored of it. Alternatively, you can check if it’s available on PC or console to avoid the subscription business model.

News+

Apple News+ on macOS

News+ is an upgrade to the free News service that Apple offers. It’s available in four regions only — US, Canada, UK, and Australia. With this $9.99/month subscription, you and your family members can access over 300 titles, both online or off. The newspapers catalog includes The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and The Times of London. While available magazines include People, Vanity Fair, and National Geographic.

Apple News allows you to follow topics and channels for free, but if you’d like to access the content ad-free, in addition to the popular newspapers and magazines, then you will have to pay the monthly fee. You can read from iPhone, iPad, or Mac, so your reads follow you wherever you go. The subscription also includes News+ Audio, which allows you to listen to the latest stories when you can’t read.

Fitness+

Apple fitness+ on iPad and Apple Watch

Apple Fitness+ was released at the very end of 2020. It’s a guided fitness solution powered by the Apple Watch. The service is currently available in over 20 countries, and it costs $9.99/month in the US. Alternatively, you can pay $79.99/year if you believe you will stay committed. Those who buy an eligible Apple Watch will get a 3-month free trial instead of a 1-month one. You can share the subscription across your entire iCloud Family.

This service includes over 11 workout types, including HIIT, Yoga, Strength, Core, and more. Apple adds over 25 new workouts every week, and their durations vary between 5 and 45 minutes. So there’s a workout for everyone! You can also watch or listen to guided meditation sessions that help you wind down.

Fitness+ is available on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, and it requires an Apple Watch to work. A native app isn’t available on macOS, but you can AirPlay your iDevice’s screen to your Mac. However, when you mirror the screen, only the video playback will be reflected. Metrics such as your Activity Rings and heart rate will unfortunately disappear.

The service offers filters and smart suggestions so you can spend your time and energy working out — rather than looking for the perfect workout. With about two dozen coaches, you can also stick to the ones you vibe with the most. It’s worth mentioning that workouts include three coaches each — the main one, in addition to two others for those looking for easier and harder variations of the same exercise.


Apple One Bundles

Apple One bundles include several Apple subscription services for a discounted price. It launched at the end of 2020, and there are 3 different plans to choose from. These bundles are available in over 100 regions, but service availability and prices differ.

Individual

For $14.95 a month in the US, this plan bundles Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud+ (50GB). If you already subscribe to these services individually, switching to Apple One Individual saves you $6 per month. However, you won’t be able to share any of the services with your iCloud Family, as its name suggests.

Family

Apple One Family bundle includes the same services offered in the individual plan, but iCloud+ gets an upgrade to 200GB instead of 50GB. You can obviously share this plan with your iCloud Family members. It costs $19.95 per month in the US, so by subscribing to it, you’re saving $8 monthly.

Premier

This plan bundles all of the services offered through the other plans and more. iCloud+ gets an upgrade to 2TB, and users get access to Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+ as well. For $29.95/month in the US, users can save $25 monthly by avoiding individual service subscriptions. And of course, you can share this bundle with your entire iCloud Family.


If you subscribe to all Apple services, I would recommend switching to the Apple One Premier bundle. For less than $30 per month, you get access to everything from Apple and save $25 a month from the otherwise cumulative total of individual subscriptions. However, that excludes channels on the TV and Podcasts apps, since they’re offered by third parties. You will always have to subscribe to those individually, if you’re interested.

Which Apple services are you subscribed to? Let us know in the comments section below.

About author

Mahmoud Itani
Mahmoud Itani

Mahmoud is an Istanbul-based Beiruti who has always sought freedom through writing. His hobbies include keeping up with tech news, writing articles about Apple devices & services, crocheting, meditating, and composing poetry. You’ll likely find him jogging at a park, swimming in open water, brainstorming at a coffeehouse, or merely lost in nature. He can be reached via [email protected] or the provided social links.