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Apple’s master plan for a 1st MEGA platform

Apple launched the Sports app last week – but there may be more to it than meets the eye

Apple's Sports app shown on an iPhone

Apple last week dropped the Sports app on us – unannounced and out of the blue…well that’s how it seemed.

On the face of it, the Sports app seems quite innocuous but when you pull back the curtains it may be the start of a new dawn – there may be more to it than you’d first think.

The power & driver behind the app has been Apple Senior Vice President, Eddy Cue who is sports-mad. He had become increasingly frustrated at finding a service that could deliver him sports scores in real-time. The ones he tried seemed to be super laggy so in true Apple form – he decided to create his own! In his words “I just wanted the damned score!”

Although it seemed as if the release date of the Sports app was random it was timed with perfect precision as it was the first day of the MLS season. At launch, the leagues in the Sports app are far from as comprehensive as they will doubtless become – but much as with the Vision Pro, everything has to start somewhere.

Currently, in the app which was only launched in the US, Canada and the UK last week, you’ll find MLS, NBA, NHL, LaLiga and the Premier League as some of the headline leagues. There are no lower leagues in the app with other glaring omissions being tennis, rugby and Formula 1 – but as I said, there is time and this app will be iterated upon pretty quickly.

Design language

I wrote yesterday about how iOS 18 may take on a new look when it comes out later this year.

As I wrote that I was thinking about some of the recent app styles we have seen from Apple. The Sport app has a feel to it of being influenced by the recent Journal app and even with a touch of the Weather app about it – it’s very clean and functional.

What I’m getting from Apple at the moment is that they are not being locked into one generic UI – instead, they are happy to develop apps for a specific purpose. The Sports app does that by being uncluttered and giving simple information quickly which is precisely what this app is supposed to deliver – information on the go.

The Sports app, like the Journal app, is only available on the iPhone and having understood what a big identifier colours are in sports they’ve made great use of team colours to help you identify with your team quickly – and there is also some cool use of movement as well – with a gently moving graphic rolling behind the text. It’s just enough to bring it to life without it interfering with your experience.

From what I’ve seen so far it seems to have hit Eddy Cue’s brief – the delay or lag is minimal and the scores would appear to be as real-time as you could hope for.

At odds

One of the more strange decisions is that as soon as you open any match what you see at the top are betting odds.

The odds which are sourced through DraftKings seem an odd fit with Apple – even more strange because you can’t place a bet through the app. In the States, betting is not even legal in all states which makes it more curious that such an emphasis has been placed on it.

I guess Apple knows that betting, as much as it is a cultural problem is a part of sport like it or not – I guess even as a non-betting man seeing the odds does offer some context to the match. The odds feature can be disabled in the app’s settings by the way.

There are no ads in the Sports app – whether they come later down the line is anyone’s guess, but the clean UI of the app would suggest it’s not something that they have in mind.

Lastly, before moving on from the odds – there have been some rumblings as to whether this means that Apple is thinking at some point of getting into gambling. There are already a host of apps out there and I truly hope Apple doesn’t try to pray on the weak just to earn a few more dollars.

The Mega Empire…

This app gives you a different way to visualise data – it’s making sports easy to access for everyone leaning into the iPhone’s Live Activity feature.

The app lets you link out of the UI and go directly to the provider showing the game live through the Apple TV app which makes me wonder where this will lead.

I’ve written many times that Apple is no fool and always plans well ahead.

Are we about to see Apple Sports launched as a stand-alone brand just like Music and Apple TV? Rather than directing you to another service provider that happens to stream through Apple TV what if Apple starts to buy up these other sports broadcasters and providers to bring them under their own banner?

In the future rather than being an aggregator of other sports content they become a mega sports platform in their own right. We’ve seen them sponsor the half-time show at the Super Bowl over the past few years and lean heavily into soccer and baseball. This shift could almost be happening in front of our eyes…

Joining the dots

Speaking of Apple planning ahead…the Vision Pro is never far from view right now – and as it happens it ties beautifully into the Sports app.

Part of the sports package that the app will link you to will offer exclusively to the Vision Pro wearers 8K 3D 180-degree FOV highlights of the 2023 MLS season.

Not wishing to crow too loudly, but this is something that Marcus and I called correctly on one of our videos last year about the headset – that Apple would get into immersive sports as quickly as possible. Turns out we were bang on the money.

But – it seems that the production of immersive 8K video is a bit trickier than they had planned. The ideal time to launch this programme would have been either when the Vision Pro was released or when the Sports app was released last week.

The fact that both markers were missed shows just how hard they are finding it – bearing in mind this is the 2023 season…last year! All those months on and still no video. But…it’s coming…

You heard it here first

Just like we called the Vision Pro being used for immersive court-side sports viewing if Apple Sports does launch years down the line remember where you read about it first.

Hopefully, you will agree with me that when all the facts are laid down it starts to add up – nothing at Apple happens by mistake.

Apple Sports – it makes sense!

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