The good, bad and the unknown of Apple’s new services

SAN FRANCISCO — It took a while, but finally — and with the carefully curated help of Oprah, Big Bird and Goldman Sachs — Apple has at last unveiled a new streaming TV service, its own branded credit card and a news subscription product.The moves have been largely expected and so far don’t appear to drastically alter the competitive landscape the way Apple has done with previous products such as the iPhone and the iPad.Still, the announcements represent an important step for the company as it seeks to diversify how it makes money amid declining sales of the iPhone, even if by themselves they are unlikely to turn Apple’s big ship either way. But it’s a way to keep fans sticking with Apple even when they aren’t buying a new iPhone every year.Monday’s announcements lacked some key details, such as pricing of the TV service. Here’s a rundown on what Apple unveiled — what’s good, what’s not so good and what we still don’t know.— APPLE TV PLUSThe good: Oprah, Jason Momoa, Big Bird, Steven Spielberg and a host of other stars have lent themselves to original Apple shows that range from documentaries to science fiction, drama and preschool television programming. The focus on “quality storytelling” is consistent with Apple’s image and analysts say is likely to produce some hit shows.The bad: Even so, “it will lack the full range and diversity of content available through Netflix, Amazon and others, and that is set to limit its appeal,” said Martin Garner, an analyst at CCS Insight. Apple also joins a crowded market and it’s not clear how many more monthly subscriptions people have the money and the bandwidth for.The unknown: Apple hasn’t said how much it’s going to cost.— APPLE NEWS PLUSThe good: The price, $10 per month, looks like a good deal compared to separate subscriptions for newspapers and magazines (Apple will include more than 300 of the latter, including The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated). Apple is touting “richly designed articles” that let people read publications tailored to Apple devices in all their glory. Apple has also included privacy protections, and says it will collect data about what people read in a way that it won’t know who read what — just how much total time is spent on different articles.The bad: While The Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal have signed on, other big-name news publishers, such as The New York Times, have not. Nor have, in fact, most other major U.S. newspapers.The unknown: It’s not entirely clear how much news you’re getting for your money. The Journal, famous for its business and industry coverage and commanding nearly $40 a month, will make “specially curated” general-interest news available for Apple customers, for example. Other stories will still be there — but Apple says users will have to search for the articles themselves.— APPLE CARDThe good: Security and privacy, two areas Apple prides itself on, are a clear focus. The physical version of the card has no numbers, and the digital version lives in your Apple Wallet on your phone, where it’s protected by Face ID or Touch ID so even if someone steals your phone they won’t be able to use the card to buy things. Apple says it won’t get information on what you buy with the card or where or for how much. There are no late fees.The bad: The rewards (2 per cent cash back for all purchases using the digital version of the card, 1 per cent using the physical version and 3 per cent cash back at Apple stores) are nothing to write home about. The card is meant for Apple users, so if you aren’t, it’s probably not for you.The unknown: What sort of credit score you need to get approved, as well as exact interest rates.— APPLE ARCADEThe good: Apple’s new game subscription service, which will launch this fall, will be free of ads and in-app purchases, which can quickly add up and have become common in mobile games. Apple promises more than 100 games, and they will be exclusive to the service, so there will be plenty of fresh adventures.The bad: The service will only be available on Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple TVs. That could be frustrating for those who don’t own Apple products.Unknown: Apple said all games would be available with one subscription, but did not say how much it would cost or when exactly the service will launch. It has partnered with a few well-known game creators, including Hironobu Sakaguchi of “Final Fantasy” fame, but it’s unclear how well all the new games will work or how fun they’ll be to play.___AP Technology Writer Rachel Lerman contributed to this story.Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press read more

CPA strongly rejects statement by Bellanwila Wimalaratne Thero

“Our shock and sadness in this regard are compounded by the fact that the Venerable Thero made a deeply respected contribution to our ‘Never Again’ public interest television campaign in 2008 marking the 25th anniversary of Black July, the central message of which was non-violence and peaceful coexistence amongst all the peoples of our country,” CPA said.In keeping with its non-partisan organisational mandate, CPA has engaged in strengthening good governance and democracy in Sri Lanka since its inception in 1996. CPA will continue to work on research and advocacy to build broad public support for a new constitution. CPA also notes that the Venerable Thero does not produce any evidence in respect of the allegations made against CPA and its Executive Director’s purported role in the constitutional reform process. Accordingly, CPA regrets to have to state that such remarks by such a personage are alarmingly irresponsible and even inflammatory. “CPA strongly rejects the statement made by the Venerable Thero. His comments unfortunately associate him with the extremist opponents of the constitutional reform process. These extremists have labelled supporters of a new constitution “traitors”, threatened them with death and called for Parliament to be bombed if a new constitution is passed by its members. In this context, CPA is appalled and saddened by these remarks of such a highly respected member of the Sangha,” CPA said in a statement. The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) strongly rejected claims made by the Venerable Bellanwila Wimalaratne Thero.Addressing a conference of Bikkhus at the Dhammikaramaya in Ratmalana on the proposed new constitution, the Venerable Thero stated that CPA and its Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu are behind “constitutional courts” and are “pumping” the constitutional reform process with “NGO money”. A report to this effect was also published in the Lankadeepa newspaper on 1st November 2017. CPA fervently hopes that the public debate on the new constitution can be carried out without misinformation, insinuations and threats of violence, which are all reminiscent of the recent past. We believe our country needs a new constitution that meets the aspirations of all of its peoples and comprehensively rejects the politics of hurt, harm and hate. We strongly appeal to our fellow citizens, politicians and all religious leaders to engage in and lead an informed, responsible and constructive debate on this pivotal issue. (Colombo Gazette) read more