In a way owning something connected to the internet is a lot like owning a car. It's not enough to just drop $25,000 on the vehicle and drive off, you've also gotta pay for gas, insurance, oil changes, and dank paint jobs, just to be able to keep using it. And so it is with a phone. You can get online, sure. But increasingly, more and more of the good stuff is hidden behind paywalls. And now there're two such options that are being provided directly by the phone's operating system makers, to unlock things that are literally already installed on your phone. I'm talking of course, about Google One, and Apple One. And yeah, it actually does kind of remind me of the time that CFL had two different teams, both called the Rough Riders.
So, what do you get with these "One" services? And are they worth paying for? Let's start, by looking at Google One, since it was the first to appear on the scene back in 2018. Wait, wait a second, Apple copied Google at something? Anyway, at first it was merely an expanded cloud storage subscription, and it still does offer quite a bit more storage than Google's free storage option, if you're willing to fork over the cash. But now, Google seems to be marketing it as a way to get extra little niceties with the cheapest here, just $2 a month. Giving you access to Google experts to reduce confusion every time they mess with their UI, along with extra member benefits, such as hotel discounts.
More expensive tiers, also give you cash back in the Google Store, as well as a Google VPN, that is Android only for the time being. Of course, signing up for a service that promises unspecified benefits, means that Google could put a growing number of things behind its paywall as time goes on. In fact, it's already come out, that members will get three free months of Stadia Pro. Additionally, an option in the pre-installed Google Photos app, to use the Color Pop filter on photos without depth information will only be available to Google One subscribers.
To be fair to Google, this option was not already previously available for free, but given how plenty of cloud services have put once free content behind paywalls, it's worth keeping an eye out for free Android features possibly becoming subscription-based in the coming years.
Let's switch gears now and talk about Apple One, which only debuted in 2020, and in our opinion is a bit more appropriately named, since it attempts to be a many things in one kind of service. You do get expanded storage on iCloud, similar to Google's offering, but there're other services bundled that you might be more used to paying separate monthly fees for, like Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade. Unsurprisingly, it's more expensive than Google One's most bare-bones offering. But at $15 a month, it is cheaper than buying each of those services separately. That is assuming of course, that you wanted all of them in the first place.
So what we're seeing then is two pretty different models. Google seems to be trying to expand the functionality of core phone features and get you to pay for it, while it looks like Apple is attempting to push more people to start using their additional services like TV+, and Apple Arcade. Since, iCloud and Apple Music already have very large user bases. So offering those as part of a discounted bundle, could help their less popular services be propped up by their more popular ones.
Apple has also seen some of its investors get upset over how sales for the iPhone, and its associated services have been stagnating a little bit lately. So a big drive to draw more people into their ecosystem, and then lock them in with a suite of cloud services, isn't too surprising. Has it worked on you guys? Or have you gone the other direction and purchased a Google One subscription? Or did you just refuse to buy a subscription to use your phone? Let us know in the comments.