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Apple announces deal with HBO

Tech giant also unveils Apple Watch and new MacBook

A screenshot from the next season of HBO's hit series "Game of Thrones."
A screenshot from the next season of HBO's hit series "Game of Thrones."Read moreHBO

LOVE YOUR "Game of Thrones," "Girls" and "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" but not the high cost of a cable or satellite TV subscription to nab 'em?

Cable cutters can soon grab the next "G.O.T." block (starting April 12) and lots more on the brand-new, direct-to-you HBO Now streaming service for $14.99 a month. All you'll need for access is a broadband network connection (so, yeah, an Internet or mobile provider will still make money) and one of the Apple family of products, including the tiny Apple TV receiver box (hooks up to your TV set), newly "slashed" to $69. HBO Now also will tune-in on iPads, iPhones and the iPod Touch.

Apple's exclusive on the pay-programming service - reportedly a lock for three months - also promises instant access to 2,000 movies, HBO specials and series. The partnership was dropped at the outset of yesterday's 90-minute webcast commershill for all things Apple.

Also touted were details on the Apple Watch, launching April 24 at $349 clad in aluminum or up to 10G in ostentatious 18K Gold.

Promoting a new social necessity for the (currently) watch-free generation, adopters will be able to send private drawings and messages to other Watch wearers, making it ripe for test cheating ("Psst, what's an isosceles triangle?"), as well as remotely open a garage door, name that tune, take a call, read a Facebook post, hail Uber, buy groceries at Whole Foods, track heart rate and change the watch face to show, say, Mickey Mouse tapping out the seconds with his boot. (Yes, the rodent's still a super watch seller.) For almost all chores, you'll need to keep the Watch within Bluetooth range of your iPhone.

Also outed: Lots of techno goodness packed into an amazingly slim, two-pound MacBook. Might almost convince us a $1,299 (and up) laptop is still a necessity.

And with medical researchers, like Penn Medicine's Kathryn Schmitz, lending endorsement, Apple unveiled an important new "ResearchKit" initiative. IPhone users can now readily help health professionals to track and react to their breast cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's disease and other major ailments. "This is where medicine is going," said Dr. Schmitz in a videotaped segment. "It has to."

- Jonathan Takiff