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Apple News Survey Results: Regular Use or Not at All

Last week, we ran a survey asking how often you use the News app on an iPhone or iPad to read Apple News (see “How to Read TidBITS in Apple News,” 19 April 2018). The results are in, and they’re a roughly 50/50 split between those who use News at least several times per week and those who use it much less frequently, if at all. In essence, you use News, or you don’t.

Chart of Apple News survey results

As was pointed out in the comments, Apple News is still available only in the United States, UK, and Australia, leaving out not just the blindingly obvious Canada, but the rest of the world. It’s baffling that Apple would restrict Apple News so significantly, especially given the company’s international emphasis.

Since we launched our Apple News integration earlier this month, about 700 people have started following TidBITS on Apple News, and have viewed articles about 1500 times. So it’s not an overnight hit, but I still have high hopes that it will introduce more people to TidBITS.

Apart from these geographic limitations, what is keeping you from using Apple News now, or if you do use it, what could Apple do to make it better? Let us know in the comments!

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Comments About Apple News Survey Results: Regular Use or Not at All

Notable Replies

  1. I have never seen a cogent reason for ever using Apple News. I have Tidbits, MacInTouch, Ars Technica, DSL Reports,and the Guardian. I log on to FaceBook at least once a month just to make certain I am logged out. I don’t need easy access to gossip.

  2. Apple News is curated heavily by humans. From what I understand, they’ve got general news teams as well as teams covering specific areas and topics. AI is still involved, but the emphasis is still on flesh and blood editors calling the shots.

    News rooms are very expensive to run. Facebook ran its Newsfeed very profitably with almost no human oversight, until the forces of human nature compelled them to hire people to do some vetting. They also decided to drastically reduce the amount of content from publishers, ostensibly because it was clogging up members’ feeds, but I strongly suspect that when they crunched the numbers to figure out what it would cost them to hire the editors they need in addition to the teams they needed to hire to (((supposedly))) police for objectionable content and “fake news” it wouldn’t be as profitable as they would have liked. An added benefit is that it gives Facebook the golden opportunity to twist publishers’ arms to pay for sponsored content.

    Though Apple News has been around for a few years, has pretty much been in test mode. It was a while before iTunes began rolling out internationally, and a while before it was available on Windows. Negotiating rights, getting top quality publishers to participate, staffing newsrooms, etc., are big deals. Apple’s purchase of Texture might accelerate the possibility, and this might have lit a fire under their derrières too:

    https://digiday.com/media/publishers-warily-embrace-amazon-program-run-content-amazon-com/

    Marilyn

  3. I’m a fan of Apple News. For years I used the Zite app, which was extremely similar, and which similarly could be trained via thumbs up/down to customize shown stories. Flipboard bought Zite and let users import their Zite subscriptions, but it never worked as well for me, and I go to Flipboard maybe once a month. (One big advantage of Flipboard over Apple News is access via web browser, though.)

    Customization is really where Apple News shines, and I recommend that people like/dislike news articles regularly, as well as subscribe to specific sites in addition to Subjects (eg iPad, Arthritis, Bikinis). When you read articles from specific sites or subjects you’ll tend to be shown more of the same.

    I’ve actually maxed out on the number of subscriptions, and I periodically do a pruning. The biggest downsides for me with Apple News are that (1) if I bypass too many articles on subject/site they’ll start to go away until I go into my Following section and check out some previously unloved sections, and (2) Apple seems intent on getting me to Subscribe/Love sections that are similar to ones I already subscribe to. For example, I subscribe to Cooking, but I keep being shown Food. And I don’t want to Hate the section lest I not see relevant cooking articles as a result. I also don’t subscribe to Apple, whose articles are sometimes too generic (I instead subscribe specifically to iPhone, iPad, iMac, etc). It’s a little annoying to have to scroll past these similar or tangential sections.

  4. Apple News works for me in New Zealand. Counter to popular perception, we are not part of Australia. On the other hand, I’m blocked from accessing most other USA-only content [eg. on Amazon Prime] and some other geographically restricted media (eg. Pandora). … or maybe it’s because I claim to be in the USA region and thus the following item is correct:


    Aug 17, 2016 - How to get the Apple News app outside the U.S. , UK , and Australia . Launch Settings from your Home screen. Tap on General. Tap on Language & Region. Tap on Region. Search for, or scroll down to find United States , United Kingdom , or Australia . Tap on United States , United Kingdom , or Australia . Tap Done.

  5. I don’t use the Apple News app because here in the UK I prefer to use the BBC News app, which has a good coverage of UK and world news. I also subscribe to one newspaper – The Independent – which appears daily and I can download if I want further info or comment.

  6. This will have far reaching effects, much more than simply making News work. For example you will get the wrong Google, Amazon, and Apple websites.

    I tried changing my location tho get proper date formatting (something Apple stubbornly refuses to allow) and it cause so many problems I had to switch back,

  7. I use Apple News in the UK along with The Guardian app.

    I think it’s quite good, but because it doesn’t mark articles as read, I don’t enjoy using it to read content like TidBits.

  8. That’s an interesting point, @jeffaevans. Without a “mark as read” feature, there’s no way to feel like you’ve finished. Of course, that feeling is purely perceptual in the Internet age, since you can never finish, but for those of us who grew up with a newspaper, there is a feeling that you should be able to get to the end.

  9. I don’t use Apple News. It doesn’t seem to be on the Macintosh, so that’s all she wrote. I don’t use an iPhone. The only Apple-related equipment I use is MacBook Pros.

  10. I have no idea what apple news is or where to find it.

  11. I tried Apple News, but didn’t like it. Bookmarks and email subscriptions provide a greater range of sources.

  12. Same here. I can go to a website, so why would I want a middleman? I suppose this is related to the “Facebook era” where people seem to believe you need somebody to “curate” for you. I guess that is important if you feel you need to have seen “everything”. FOMO and all that. Like reddit in the early 2000s. LOL.

  13. You can go to A website, or you can load up all the main stories from all the websites you normally visit.

    News, when I use it, shows me new articles from Tidbits, Daring Fireball, Six Colors, MacStories, iMore, Slate, The Verge, Vulture, The Wirecutter, Vox and several others.

    But, I still cannot convince it that I do not want to see news from Fox, NYTimes, CNN, CBS, etc. Not now, not ever. Which is why I use it far less than I would otherwise. My choices on a story I don’t want to see (For examples, today’s “Why British women wear ridiculous hats at weddings” are “love, share, save” and not “never show me anything like this again.” And there is no way for me to see only the things I asked to see without it being intermingled with the crap the app thinks I want to see.

    Right now on “For you” there are zero stories from sources I “follow”, and only one article I might possibly read if it wasn’t on Bloomberg. It is littered with links to Time, People, Billboard, CBS, Bloomberg, CNBC, and Cult of Mac (which I do not follow). There is not a single link to any site I listed above.

    No wait, 4 or 5 screens down there was a Vulture link and if I get down to “Technology” there is ONE link to the Verge mixed in among my many links to sites I don’t follow.

    Last time I looked at it it seemed better, but today it is more than 90% links that I would take the time to click “Never show stories like this” or “never show this source” if that were an option.

    So, if Apple News did what it said it does, it would be great. Gathering all YOUR news rom YOUR sites. But it is not. It gathers all THE news from all the “real” news sites (but mostly the terrible ones) and shoves it at you regardless of your preferences.

    Not a single NPR story. Not a single BBC story. But those are both sources I follow (but that seems to be meaningless), so why show those.

  14. Try this…In Apple News, go to the BBC and NPR pages and :heart:️ some articles that you like. Though there are highly qualified editors vetting stories, an algorithm decides a lot about who is served how much of what depending on your likes and what topics you’d chosen. You clearly like Apple stuff, so you’re being shown a lot of it. You’ll need to do this regularly for a little while, and regularly :heart:️ the stories you do like when you do see more from these sources.

    News outlets submit stories to the Apple News editors, and though I am served stories I like from them, I don’t see as much from NPR and the BBC as I would like. I suspect it’s because that these sources don’t submit as many articles about stuff I :heart:️, or they might not being very aggressive in submitting stories as The Washington Post or Buzzfeed (who is creating a great series of videos exclusively for Apple News). From the BBC, I do get regular news about William and Kate’s upcoming nuptials although I’m not all that interested in the wedding (the except maybe about her dress), but not all that much international news.

    Marilyn

  15. Does anyone know for certain what tapping the button that looks like a heart with a line through it does? I always assumed it was “don’t show me more like this.”

    I will say that I don’t get any mainstream news in my For You section. I’ve told Apple News that I only want Consumer Electronics and Software in the Suggestions category, and and the Channels I’ve subscribed to are targeted publications. Similarly, the Topics I’ve added are specific, so I’d never get politics, for instance (though I still don’t get nearly as much Track & Field as I’d like).

  16. Never heard of it before this, and won’t use it because I don’t use a smartphone.

  17. It took me quite a few dislikes to convince it that I’m not interested in spectator sports, Fox News and a lot of other stuff. Stick with it. With the sports, I had to cycle through, football, wrestling, etc., etc. stuff as well as the channels themselves. With Fox News and some other channels, I had to keep disliking the stuff that kept showing up in the topics I like.

    Marilyn

  18. I would be a lot more apt to use Apple News on a frequent basis if it were also available for the macOS. I don’t spend much time browsing and/or reading routine news on my smartphone…it’s used mainly for text, e-mail and calls of course.

  19. What I do in a situation like this in Apple News is open one of the offering articles. If you look at the top, in the center there should be a tappable name of the site. Say it’s Fox News; tap that banner and it will bring you to all of their articles. On the top right there are icons with a heart and a heart with a slash. I tap the heart with the slash, confirm that I want to block the site, and that does seem to prevent articles from that site from ever showing up again.

  20. What I really need from Apple News is a way to create collections of news sources, and ideally, share them. RSS readers call these “folders,” but you know Apple hates folders.

    And a Mac app, of course.

  21. It appears the mistake that I am making, if you can call it that, is I want to “dislike” an entire news source, and you can only dislike individual articles.

    (NM: I saw @ddmiller’s post after posting this, you can unheard an entire news source… off to go gallumphing through the feeds striking out the offenders!)

  22. Apple News is a slow learner. I’ve found that if you keep disliking articles in a genre, it eventually catches on.

    Marilyn

  23. I use the App daily on an iPad and like having the wide-ranging coverage. But there’s no pinch-to-zoom in this App!? Huh? Often the text is faded grey or too small. Apple invented the device and pinch-to-zoom!! How about using it in this App?

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