AppleCare can refer to both the AppleCare Protection Plan product and Apple customer service.
The AppleCare Protection Plan is sold by Apple and many other third-party resellers. It is available for every major piece of Apple hardware, including iPods, iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and Macs. The Plan can be purchased at any time during the period of the original 1-year manufacturer warranty; hence it is not necessary to purchase it at the same time as the hardware itself. For iOS devices, the AppleCare Protection Plan extends the warranty by another year (2 years total) and the included 90 day telephone support for the full 2 years.