iOS 9's Apple News expands publisher reach as readership climbs toward 40 million

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
Apple News is already seeing strong adoption, with more than twice as many readers as Apple Music has listeners -- no doubt because News is effortless to use, with no subscription plan or signup required. Apple is now expanding News app's publisher base by publicly documenting its underlying "Apple News Format" specification.




Apple News Format enables publishers to create dynamic, animated multimedia content their readers can access through iOS 9's new Apple News app, using simple markup.

Until now, Apple has limited access to its Apple News Format to a small group of publishing partners (including ESPN, The New York Times, Cond? Nast publications and Hearst newspapers) as it worked out the final details.

Other publishers have been limited to submitting an RSS feed of their stories, which allows News readers to access only basic textual content and a link to the original web page that takes users out of the app, bypassing its features.

Cond? Nast's Wired took advantage of the Apple News Format last month to publish an exclusive, dynamic feature written by Andrew Rice detailing an in-depth look at Bjarke Ingels Group, the architect behind New York City's $4 billion World Trade Center 2 project.

Now that the format is now open to all Apple News publishers, others can begin to format their articles with layouts that make use of app's advanced typography and iOS fonts; interactive photo galleries; in-line videos and animations; and modern layout conventions that involve motion and parallax effects."Nearly 40 million people are reading Apple News, and we've been getting very positive feedback from the publishers" - Tim Cook

In yesterday's conference call, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook noted that, "our iOS News app is off to a great start: Nearly 40 million people are reading Apple News, and we've been getting very positive feedback from the publishers."

Cook added, "we have now signed more than 70 publishers representing hundreds of titles, and we're happy to announce that News just launched in the United Kingdom and Australia with partners such as the BBC, News Corp, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Financial Times, Daily Mail and the Australian Broadcasting Service."

The rise of digital publishing leaves behind Flash

When iPad first appeared back in 2010, many periodical publishers -- including Cond? Nast -- had Adobe-centric workflows that expected to deliver interactive digital magazines for mobile devices using Adobe Flash. The lack of Flash support on iOS prompted Cond? Nast to instead publish a bulky app composed of high resolution pictures of its physical magazine, with more rudimentary navigation than a basic web page.

Publishers began looking for new alternatives to digital publishing as their basic "digital image" editions of existing magazines for iPad failed to garner much interest.

In 2011, Apple launched its "Newsstand" initiative as part of iOS 5. Newsstand sought to create an App Store-like market for digital newspapers and magazines delivered as subscription-based apps, enabling publishers to concentrate on content on top of the features of Apple's iOS platform.




Rather than being an app itself, Newsstand was essentially a special iOS folder Apple used to deliver publishers' subscriptions-based apps to users in the background, as new editions became available.

One problem for Newsstand was that publishers still needed to build full iOS apps to deliver each edition of their content.

One content publisher, the monthly travel magazine Trvl, decided that its Adobe InDesign workflow (like Cond? Nast's) was not going to work because it generated such large app downloads that buyers "really hated us," in the words of the firm's co-founder Michel Elings.

The Netherlands-based company set out to build a custom tool optimized for digital publishing on iOS, resulting in Prss.

The company called its tool "the software Apple forgot to make," and launched plans to license it to other publishers, enabling them to create digital magazine apps that were a tenth the size of typical graphic apps exported from InDesign.

The software caught the attention of Apple over the course of the next year, and the company was subsequently acquired by the iPad-maker. Apparently fueled by Prss talent, Apple News shipped with iOS 9 earlier this year as a rich, efficient publishing medium that doesn't require publishers to package each edition of their work as an iOS app.

Instead, publishers can apply rich formatting with Markup, incorporating interactive and video content. Apple News then renders their content as multimedia articles users can favorite, share with friends or save for offline reading, using bookmarks that are iCloud-synced between a user's devices.

Apple News recommends articles of interest based on stories you've previously read, favorited or shared, in addition to the news channels and topics you explicitly select to follow.


Social news, recommended like songs

Apple News presents publishers' content, not as periodic editions, but as a user-customized stream of articles organized by topic. This not only mimics the modern consumption model of Facebook rather than emulating printed paper periodicals, but also bears some similarity to iTunes' disruptive shift in selling individual songs rather than packaged albums.

The result is that users can read and share news presented like a social network feed, but that each article has a consistent set of features that display within the app, rather than linking to disparate outside websites.

"The app cuts out the cruft, ad trackers and other elements found on many news sites that can slow loading times," observed Owen Williams of TheNextWeb.

Publishers can adopt iAd or their own ad network for content monetization within Apple News rather than trying to sell downloadable subscriptions.

Apple News readers can also follow a specific news channel, providing an experience more similar to a digital magazine or paper.

"For small publishers that simply don't have the resources to build their own native apps, it's a huge opportunity to play in the big leagues and get content in front of more people without having to spend any money," Williams added.

Another aspect of Apple News is that it's optimized to fully exploit the Retina Display of modern iPhones and iPads, something that basic websites often aren't.

Apple announced at the release of iOS 9 that existing Newsstand subscription apps would continue to work, but that the Newsstand folder would not longer appear by default. New subscription editions are now downloaded as standalone apps.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19

    Used this app for the first time yesterday. I'm really impressed so far. Is Apple Insider on there? I noticed Idiot Rumors was listed, but didn't notice Apple Insider

  • Reply 2 of 19
    jdwjdw Posts: 700member

    I've been using Apple news for a while now, and long prior to that Flipboard.  I like the format of Apple news, when participants abide by it, but not all do.  As for those who don't, it suffers the same problems as those on Flipboard; namely, when you click the article you must then subsequently expand it inside a small Safari browser, which takes time and is by no means optimized.  As with Flipboard, when a news source is optimized, you get a great experience, ad-free, and very easy to read.

     

    For now, I use both Flipboard and Apple News.

  • Reply 3 of 19

    Can't wait to try it. Unfortunately it hasn't been available to the Dutch market yet. 

  • Reply 4 of 19
    jblongzjblongz Posts: 146member

    Its a great app.  It could use some layout improvements by category, but its the content I like to read.

  • Reply 5 of 19
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,414member

    By, "readership climbs", do they mean people actually using it?

    Or people suddenly discovering it on their devices?

  • Reply 6 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,292member
    boredumb wrote: »
    By, "readership climbs", do they mean people actually using it?
    Or people suddenly discovering it on their devices?
    They don't explain any further than that. Could be anything from frequent readers to someone who opened it once to see what it was.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    What I love about News is you can have news for specific topic all in one place, I use this to follow new Apple TV news lately and it's just so easy.

    What I don't like is region requirement. Really?
  • Reply 8 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,292member
    matrix07 wrote: »
    What I love about News is you can have news for specific topic all in one place, I use this to follow new Apple TV news lately and it's just so easy.

    What I don't like is region requirement. Really?
    Region requirement? What difference would that make except to advertising (location)? Or perhaps Apple is assuming you'd have no interest in news outside of "your region"?
  • Reply 9 of 19
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Region requirement? What difference would that make except to advertising (location)? Or perhaps Apple is assuming you'd have no interest in news outside of "your region"?

    It's both, I guess. Advertising and local news (or local advertising and local news haha)
  • Reply 10 of 19
    mnbob1mnbob1 Posts: 262member
    I started using the News app as soon as it was available on the iOS 9 beta. The official release is great. I'm finding that I use it more than the stand-alone apps that can be time consuming. Selecting by category is even better. As news sources become native to the News app it becomes even more useful. The app needs some fine tuning because it seems to lag and slow down at times but not to the point of becoming unusable.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    Used this app for the first time yesterday. I'm really impressed so far. Is Apple Insider on there? I noticed Idiot Rumors was listed, but didn't notice Apple Insider
    Yeah it's there. However AI is using the RSS thing where all you can see is a short blurb and then a link to the article.
    Methinks DED was subtly hinting to Marvin that they should use the rich Apple News Format that is now available.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    ""The app cuts out the cruft, ad trackers and other elements found on many news sites that can slow loading times," observed Owen Williams of TheNextWeb."

    I stopped using it after news stories kept sending me to the normal site to view the whole story. Ads and all. It became pointless and now I just go straight to the source.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    I would really like to try this but like others here this is not available in New Zealand.

    Not sure why but I suspect it's because the news agencies here are so stupid that they can't see the benefit of tools like this.

    I mean this is the same lot that had a whingey moan about my ISP's Global Mode which allowed us to get American and British content and they had the service shutdown.

    Global locks on content NEED to disappear.
  • Reply 14 of 19

    @matrix07

    "Local" is such a dead concept …especially on the web.

  • Reply 15 of 19
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,779member

    I've been using it a bit, but tbh I prefer the simplicity of an RSS reader, most of the things I read are just text any way, so the rich media stuff is more annoying than nice.  AppleNews seems a bit chaotic and unclear how to navigate, a bit like AppleMusic in some regards, though maybe I just haven't gotten used to it yet.

     

    I haven't noticed any ads while using it, are those supposed to come in later, or have I just lucky with the articles I read?

  • Reply 16 of 19
    sog35 wrote: »
    I like AppleNews alot.

    I hate publishers who require you to visit their site to see the whole article.  That opens a Safari window that sucks.

    I think Apple should put their foot down and require all publishers to put the whole article in the News App not the web.  They should have the leverage because they have 40 million users.

    Quite the opposite in my case.

    I used the News app a lot in the first week, but have not used it much since. The main reason? I find far many more insights in from reader comments -- crowd-sourced wisdom -- that I do from the typically half-way informed journalist's story a typical major news outlet. As a result, I find myself reverting to the web version of news websites FAR more than the app version. Most apps (except for blogs) do not include reader comments.

    With the crap-blocking software available now (mine is Purify), this option has become even more attractive!
  • Reply 17 of 19
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by boredumb View Post

     

    By, "readership climbs", do they mean people actually using it?

    Or people suddenly discovering it on their devices?




    It turned up on our iPhones in India with iOS 9.1. It looks pretty interesting but I haven't played around with it yet.

  • Reply 18 of 19
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,209moderator
    gatorguy wrote: »
    matrix07 wrote: »
    What I love about News is you can have news for specific topic all in one place, I use this to follow new Apple TV news lately and it's just so easy.

    What I don't like is region requirement. Really?

    Region requirement? What difference would that make except to advertising (location)? Or perhaps Apple is assuming you'd have no interest in news outside of "your region"?

    Judging by Apple's documentation, it sounded like the language differences were the main consideration:

    https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/General/Conceptual/News_Publishing_Guide/FAQ.html

    They also have to curate articles so they need curators assessing content from different countries in different languages. I don't think it's about advertising because they offer iAd, which will work the same way it does with apps. There are location constraints in the App Store too for language localization and there will be copyright issues and laws on content in different areas. The difference with the web is that the directory of content and hosting is remote. Apple's publishing environment will host and serve the content so they have some responsibility over what they serve up - search engines do too but they only link to content.

    The first countries to get content were countries that mostly speak English - USA, UK, Australia. Canada could have been included but wasn't. The following page only lists USA, UK, New Zealand and Australia as having English as the de facto official language:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_territorial_entities_where_English_is_an_official_language

    Canada has a small population but 2/3 speak English so just ahead of Australia. Wikipedia has a map:

    1000

    Everywhere not blue or green doesn't have English as a main language. English is probably the most widely understood language but even then it's not even 1/3 of the world population. I think a built-in Siri translator would have worked ok where you can tap a button and it just switches all the text to your native language and it can cache translations but they still have to deal with other local restrictions. I guess they'll take the largest populations next. Possibly European countries before Asia if there are too many censorship limitations to overcome in Asian countries.
    lostkiwi wrote:
    Methinks DED was subtly hinting to Marvin that they should use the rich Apple News Format that is now available.

    Only site authors and admins deal with the site content ( http://appleinsider.com/contact ). None of the half dozen or so forum moderators deal with this. Given that the forum is run on Huddler (see bottom of the page), mobile development might be outsourced too as and when needed. RSS links are done automatically but publishing in Apple's format will need regular formatting and article approvals with delays. AppleInsider content should be available as RSS:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/09/17/how-to-read-appleinsider-in-ios-9s-news-application
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