iOS 13.5.5 leak: Apple Music and other services may get money-saving bundle

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple may be preparing to bundle several of its services together – like Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, and more – into what could be a single subscription package, according to a new code leak from an upcoming version of iOS 13.

Files appearing for the first time in the iOS 13.5.5 beta refer to a ‘bundle offer’ and ‘bundle subscription,’ according to 9to5Mac. These code snippets seem to refer to management subscription systems between Apple’s various services, suggesting a the bundle could be discounted.  

We’ve been hearing about the potential bundling of multiple Apple services since June 2018, but a Bloomberg report last November reignited the idea by revealing a potential deal with Apple News Plus content partners that would give them a smaller portion of revenue in the event the service was sold as a bundle. 

But if the tech giant wants Apple Music's content to be part of the deal, it's hit snags with the studios holding the rights to that content. The latest deal inked in March 2020 between Apple and major record labels didn’t include agreements to bundle Apple Music with any other services, per 9to5Mac

It’s unclear whether this will prevent combining the service in general or if it just keeps Apple from offering the service at a discounted price. Subsequent negotiations could have changed those conditions, of course. 

The prospect of a bundle – and discount

We’ve been hearing about a bundle deal for awhile, but it’s taken both time for Apple’s various services to mature – Apple News Plus and Apple Arcade, for instance, both launched in March 2019 – and for the company to secure agreements with content providers. 

But the actual details of a bundle remain a mystery. Would it be every Apple service? Would there be an option to omit some while still getting a discount? How much money would the bundle save? For instance:

  •  Apple Music starts at $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99 
  •  Apple TV Plus starts at $4.99 / £4.99 / AU$7.99 
  •  Apple News Plus starts at $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$14.99 
  •  Apple Arcade costs $4.99 / £4.99 / AU$7.99 

Thus, a bundled version could include some or all of Apple’s services at a discount – but it would only make sense for the tech giant to do so if it supported its ecosystem. Perhaps it will just allow one option to combine them all in the name of both simplicity and expanding the user base of the less popular services. 

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.