As the world navigated an ever-changing new normal of virtual learning, grocery deliveries, and drive-by birthday celebrations, customers relied on Apple services in new ways, turning to expertly curated apps, news, music, podcasts, TV shows, movies, and more to stay entertained, informed, connected, and fit.
Apps like ShareTheMeal, FaceTime, and Wakeout! inspired people to give back, stay in touch with loved ones, and take care of themselves. Ted lassoed the hearts of Apple TV+ viewers with his unremitting positive attitude, while Tom Hanks guided them through choppy waters in “Greyhound,” and Apple Music fans searched for the “Dance Monkey” lyrics while watching their favorite artists livestream from their homes. There were podcasts like “SmartLess” and NPR’s “Code Switch” to binge, Apple Arcade games like “Sneaky Sasquatch” to play, and a new favorite Apple Fitness+ workout waiting to be discovered. Apple’s commitment to privacy and security provided a sense of reassurance, while the company’s dedication to quality curation gave creators and developers an unparalleled platform to bring creative visions to life.
“Now more than ever before, customers around the world have found inspiration and value in the breadth and quality of Apple’s services, which have impacted their lives in big and small ways every day,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We’re incredibly optimistic about where we’re headed, and we believe that the opportunities for developers and the creative community are endless, as are the positive and meaningful benefits to our customers.”
Here are a few highlights from 2020 and new opportunities to look forward to in 2021.
In a year like none other, apps have become more essential than ever. Developers found new ways to keep people connected, help them learn and work from home, stay fit and well, and provide much-needed entertainment. As a result of their efforts, developers selling digital goods and services — which is only a small fraction of the overall commerce the App Store facilitates — have now earned more than $200 billion since the App Store launched in 2008.
Among 2020’s most downloaded apps were Zoom and Disney+, which helped keep family, friends, colleagues, and classmates connected. Games became more popular than ever, with breakout titles like “Among Us” and long-time favorites such as “Roblox” alike bringing people together. Developers of all sizes reached new global audiences, such as Shanghai-based miHoYo, which set a new record for the most successful launch week ever on the App Store with its runaway hit “Genshin Impact.”
The trend continued over the holiday season, with App Store customers spending $1.8 billion on digital goods and services over the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, driven largely by spending on games. Customers ushered in 2021 by setting a new single-day spending record of over $540 million on New Year’s Day.
This week, many small and independent developers around the world became inaugural participants in the new App Store Small Business Program, which offers the vast majority of developers a reduced commission to empower reinvestment in their growth and expansion in 2021 and beyond.
Apple Music had a record year as people around the world spent more time discovering and engaging with music. The service released its biggest product update ever with features like Listen Now, an all-new Search, personal radio stations, and Autoplay. Nearly 90 percent of iOS 14 listeners have used these new features, and engagement with Apple Music’s industry-leading lyrics feature has doubled since 2020.
Apple Music offers more than 70 million songs, all curated by world-class experts and tastemakers, thousands of curated playlists, and more than 25,000 exclusive radio episodes and other original content. New Apple Music radio stations, including Apple Music Hits and Apple Music Country, coupled with Apple Music 1, delivered a diverse, global radio experience to tens of millions of listeners with all-new, original shows from the most beloved artists and well-respected hosts in the business.
Apple Music’s hosts connected with the world’s biggest superstars utilizing FaceTime interviews and group chats live from their homes and offering a collection of bespoke playlists from the artists to their fans. Global exclusives and in-depth interviews with artists like Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift, along with livestreamed performances from Verzuz or the Apple Music Award winners Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Ricch, and Lil Baby, produced meaningful, culture-moving moments and helped artists and fans stay connected.
Apple Music is streaming seamlessly across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, Apple Watch, and iPod touch, as well as on popular smart TVs, smart speakers, Android and Windows devices, and online at music.apple.com. The all-new Apple Music TV, streaming music videos 24/7, is also available on the Apple TV app in the US. And with the addition of 52 new territories, Apple Music brought music to more places around the world than ever before.
In 2020, the Apple TVapp launched on select LG, Sony, and VIZIO smart TVs, and PlayStation and Xbox consoles, adding to its extensive reach that already includes Apple devices, Samsung smart TVs, Roku players, and Amazon Fire TV. Now available on over 1 billion screens in over 100 countries and regions, the Apple TV app brings together the different ways to discover and watch shows, movies, and more in one app.
With a new dedicated Apple TV+ tab in the Apple TV app on iOS and tvOS, it is easier than ever to discover and enjoy popular Apple Originals. Customers can subscribe directly to premium channels like AMC+, CBS All Access, SHOWTIME, and Starz and also quickly access content from services like Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, and discovery+, buy or rent over 100,000 new release and classic movies and TV shows, access their library of past purchases from Apple, and browse personalized and curated recommendations — all on the Apple TV app.
In 2020, Apple introduced premium movies on demand, enabling consumers to watch movies like “Trolls World Tour,” “The Invisible Man,” “Emma,” and “The Croods: A New Age” from the safety of their homes the day they released. The Apple TV app also launched “Essential Stories,” celebrating Black artistry in film and TV, featuring original artwork by Darien Birks, Loveis Wise, and Richard Chance, with more to come. And the Apple TV app featured free movies and TV shows throughout the year to help consumers stay entertained.
Since its global launch on November 1, 2019, Apple TV+ has been honored with 159 awards nominations and 45 wins and accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award, Daytime Emmy Awards, a SAG Award, an NAACP Image Award, a Peabody Award, Critics Choice Award, Critics Choice Documentary Awards, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, Cinema Eye Award, Kidscreen Awards, and more.
Apple TV+ has sparked global conversations with its critically acclaimed dramas, comedies, feature films, and documentaries. Apple Originals have seen record viewership for Apple TV+ and have been featured across numerous “Best of 2020” lists, with top critics hailing “Ted Lasso,” “The Morning Show,” “Tehran,” “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special,” “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” “On the Rocks,” “Beastie Boys Story,” “Wolfwalkers,” “Boys State,” “Little America,” “Visible: Out on Television,” “Trying,” and more among the best TV shows and films of 2020.
Apple TV+ was also one of the first platforms to deliver relevant, thoughtful stories to customers consistently as the world came to a standstill in 2020. “Mythic Quest: Quarantine” has been hailed as a “masterpiece,” and new series such as “Oprah Talks COVID-19,” “Fraggle Rock: Rock On!,” and “Helpsters Help You” entertained and brought important information to families as they stayed at home.
Looking ahead to early 2021, customers can enjoy second seasons of Apple Originals “Dickinson,” “Servant,” and “For All Mankind,” as well as new series “Losing Alice,” and highly anticipated films “Palmer” and “Cherry,” and the documentary, “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry.” Throughout the year, Apple TV+ will also premiere new stories from the world’s biggest storytellers, including “The Mosquito Coast,” “Lisey’s Story,” “Foundation,” “Schmigadoon!,” “Severance,” and “Pachinko,” as well as new seasons of returning favorites like “The Morning Show” and “See.”
Apple News+ audio stories, daily audio briefing Apple News Today, and curated local news collections offer customers new ways to engage with great journalism across Apple News.
Apple News delivered curated world-class journalism in 2020. Its team of editors provided readers with trusted information from quality news sources about the year’s biggest and most important stories, with special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, the racial justice movement, and the US elections. Apple News also launched personalized and curated local news in select US cities, as well as Apple News+ audio, with professionally narrated versions of the most thought-provoking feature stories available to Apple News+ subscribers. Plus, the new daily audio briefingApple News Today offered listeners a new way to tap into all of the great journalism available in Apple News.
As the new year kicks off, customers are finding inspiration to embrace their health resolutions and move more with Fitness+. Whether they’re jumpstarting a fresh fitness routine or mixing up their current workouts, Fitness+, the first fitness service built around Apple Watch, brings studio-style workouts to iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, making it easier for users to get started with a workout and close their rings any time, anywhere. The intelligent and seamless integration of key workout metrics users love from Apple Watch and the motivating music from top artists keep users inspired through every workout. Best of all, Fitness+ offers workouts for everyone from a team of celebrated, charismatic, diverse, and passionate trainers who are specialists in their fields, and are inspired to coach all levels, from beginners to fitness enthusiasts.
Apple Pay is the easier and safer way to pay in stores using just an iPhone or Apple Watch, and now, more than 90 percent of stores in the US, 85 percent of stores in the UK, and 99 percent of stores in Australia accept Apple Pay, so customers can leave their physical cards at home. With shopping increasingly moving online, Apple Pay also provides the fastest and most secure way to order online.
In 2020, the award-winning game subscription service Apple Arcade proved to be a fun and safe platform for families around the world looking for interactive entertainment. Apple Arcade brings together more than 140 of the world’s best mobile games, with individual titles earning more than 50 awards and nominations. With a single subscription, a family of up to six people can enjoy unlimited access to all the games in Apple Arcade on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, all without any ads or additional in-app purchases. The ever-growing catalogue includes exclusives from popular brands such as “LEGO Brawls,” “Sonic Racing,” “Crossy Road Castle,” and “SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit,” as well as Arcade originals like “Grindstone,” “What the Golf?,” and “Little Orpheus.”
Customers can easily enjoy ebooks and audiobooks from Apple Books on iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and listen to their audiobook library on Apple Watch and in their cars with CarPlay. As digital book-buying boomed in 2020 with more people trying ebooks and audiobooks for the first time, Apple Books saw remarkable growth in new customers and now draws over 90 million monthly active users. In 2020, Apple Books also saw strong growth across several genres, including double-digit increases in escapist fare like Mysteries & Thrillers and Romance, as well as even bigger surges in downloads for Kids, Comics & Graphic Novels, and Cookbooks, Food & Wine. Customers can also enjoy the 1,000 Free Books collection on Apple Books, which is refreshed twice weekly. Also in 2020, Apple Books for Authors launched, offering helpful resources on writing, publishing, selling, and marketing books on Apple Books, and further cementing Apple’s position as the industry’s friendliest platform for both independent authors and major publishers.
Throughout 2020, listeners turned to Apple Podcasts to help make sense of the moment. With gripping stories and fresh perspectives, podcasts played an especially meaningful role in customers’ lives by helping them stay informed, educated, and inspired. Now in over 175 countries with programming in more than 100 languages, and available on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod and other smart speakers, Apple Podcasts is the best place for listeners to discover and enjoy their favorite shows, and for creators to share their voice with the world.
iCloud powers a seamless experience in keeping a customer’s photos, videos, files, notes, and other important data safe, up to date, and available across all their devices. More than 85 percent of iCloud users are protected with two-factor authentication, an extra layer of security designed to ensure that no one else can access their accounts or data. Sign in with Apple provides a fast, secure, and more private way for users to sign in to third-party apps and websites. And with Family Sharing, up to six family members can share access to a single iCloud storage plan, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+, or bundle it all together with a subscription to Apple One. Family Sharing also allows family members to share individual music, movie, TV, book, and app purchases.