Skip to content
Thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 29 years
and the TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals
Apple News+ on a MacBook Air, iPad Pro, and iPhone.

Photo by Apple

43 comments

Apple News+ Debuts With Magazines, Newspapers, and Web Sites

When Apple bought the digital magazine service Texture almost precisely a year ago (“Apple Acquires the Digital Magazine Service Texture,” 12 March 2018), speculation ran rampant that the company would eventually roll out a similar Apple-branded service, likely integrated into the News app.

That speculation was on the money. At its services-focused special event on 25 March 2019, Apple announced what it is calling Apple News+, a paid add-on to Apple News with access to about 300 magazines, plus a handful of major newspapers and digital publications. Apple News+ is available in the United States and Canada as of today. Australia and Europe are slated to get access “in the fall”—which we suspect means September, to align with the next iPhone and iOS releases.

A look at Apple News+

To enable Apple News+ on your devices, you must first update to iOS 12.2 or macOS 10.14.4 Mojave. Then, look for the News+ icon in your News app’s sidebar or toolbar. Don’t see it? Look again—it can be easy to overlook since it looks so much like the Today icon.

Apple News+ adapts the magazine reading experience for on-screen consumption with animated covers, customized photos and infographics, search across multiple titles, smart user recommendations, effortless navigation within and across magazines, and dynamic layouts that seamlessly adapt themselves to iPhone, iPad, and Mac screens. None of this is revolutionary since Texture did much of the same.

Apple aspires to create a more comprehensive paid-news service with all kinds of content, but it has work to do. Apart from the magazines (including 30 Canadian titles), Apple News+ will initially offer access to just the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal, along with Canadian newspaper The Star, along with a handful of Web sites from the likes of theSkimm, Vox, New York Magazine, and TechCrunch. One warning about the Wall Street Journal: you apparently don’t get access to all of the newspaper’s content, but only a curated collection of general interest news.

At $9.99, Apple News+ is competitively priced—especially considering that multiple members of a household can use it, each with their own preferred magazines and preferences, at that single subscription cost. Apple is making the first month free as well. Of course, just how reasonable Apple News+ seems to you depends on how many print subscriptions it would replace and how expensive they are—do you currently pay $120 per year for periodicals?

Apple News+ has competition. Companies like Amazon, Magzter, Scribd, and Zinio offer much of the same—with more extensive magazine catalogs in some cases. Texture is also still available, reportedly until May—but if you migrate from Texture to Apple News+, your subscription will come with you.

Potential subscribers should also look to their public libraries before plunking down money for a paid service like Apple News+ since robust selections of digital magazines are available from those public institutions at no cost via digital partners such as Flipster and RBdigital.

For users of Apple devices, however, Apple News+ will have particular allure, given Apple’s attention to detail and ease of use. Apple also emphasizes that Apple News+ will protect your privacy, keeping advertisers (and even Apple itself) from knowing what you’re reading.

The larger question is how well Apple News+ will work for publishers. The New York Times recently made public its displeasure with the service and said it did not plan to participate. Other news organizations are reportedly objecting to the share of revenue Apple is said to be taking in exchange for their participation.

Whether Apple can woo such skeptical publishers will go a long way to determining the success of Apple News+ because it will be a harder sell if readers still have to subscribe to some of their favorite publications separately.

Your Take?

Is Apple News+ going to make a difference to how you consume periodicals? How much do you spend now, and will you save money or just get more to read? Register your vote in our quick four-question survey and expand on your answer in the comments.

Subscribe today so you don’t miss any TidBITS articles!

Every week you’ll get tech tips, in-depth reviews, and insightful news analysis for discerning Apple users. For 28 years, we’ve published professional, member-supported tech journalism that makes you smarter.

Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

Comments About Apple News+ Debuts With Magazines, Newspapers, and Web Sites

Notable Replies

  1. Here is a disturbing fact about Apple News+ magazines: they aren’t necessarily like the originals!

    I just compared the latest New Yorker on Apple News+ with the digital edition from the New Yorker. Apple has changed the titles of articles and omitted whole sections of the magazine, e.g., “Goings On About Town,” “Cartoon Caption Contest,” and “Cartoon Gallery.” Apple’s version is also less aesthetic.

  2. Duane, that is because News+ is “curated”! When I see that word, I read it as “censored” and stay away. So if you want to read an uncensored “The New Yorker”, get it direct from them.

  3. “Curated” actually means “curtailed”, i.e. they only give you a selection from each magazine. But I agree with the conclusion: this is not a satisfactory solution. It would be better if they offered, say, 30 articles per month, no matter from which journal – that would be an attractive option.

  4. I like viewing the magazines on my large iMac 27. I am a bit disappointed in the clumsy navigation of a lot of the magazines. I’m sure they will work out kinks later. It seems it is built for iPhones only

  5. Also - News is frequently crashing - running on a late 2015 iMac 27. anyone else having problems?

  6. Yeah, on my iPhone Xs as well. Open News, hit “Following”, crash…

  7. Headlines and subheads from newspapers (especially) and magazines regularly vary greatly between digital and print editions. Editors, designers and art directors are dealing with finite configurations of column inches on paper, and the great unknown online. The News+ edition had to be designed to work on any number of devices.

    Online content also needs to be searchable, and searchable in perpetuity, which is another reason for differences; publications depend on search engines for exposure. And you might be reading a local print edition or section, which would vary from the national. An advertiser could have dropped in or out and changes made to the press run. And there’s always the chance that a story needed to be edited, added or killed during or after presstime. I don’t know of any print publication that can afford to stop presses any longer, but it’s no biggie whatsoever to do online.

    What does bother me is reading in the paper today that the Wall Street Journal, which I have missed terribly since it went behind a paywall and I no longer have a free copy everyday at work, will not be including any of its business coverage in News+. Their business news and analysis is all I care about in that journal. Some publications will be doing that as well. No mention of this during “Snowtime.”

  8. Is the Wall Street Journal now included in News the full up paper or just selected articles like it used to be…asking for my wife who reads it. How about the crossword puzzle…included? She reads the whole thing but looks forward to the puzzle at the end. If so…then a subscription will be cheaper than the current $32/month or whatever they’re charging now.

  9. To be fair, the print version of the magazine does not have a Cartoon Gallery - that’s only in the digital version. (I am a long-time subscriber that switched from print to digital a few years ago.) I have not updated to 12.2 nor tried News+ yet, so I haven’t seen that version of the New Yorker, but considering a digital subscription to the magazine costs $90/year and the news+ service is $120/year for 200+ magazines and newspapers, losing the cartoon gallery is not a huge loss (and nothing different from what the print reader will get.) Of course you also lose access to most of the New Yorker archives, but I understand that they go back about 8 months in the News app, which is not too bad IMO. The Goings On About Town section I generally don’t pay a lot of attention to anyway, as I don’t live near NYC, but it is too bad that they culled it. I’ll have to see if they have cut the other features, such as the featured fiction piece each month being read by the author, which is available on the New Yorker iOS app.

    FWIW, the iOS app for the New Yorker is not the greatest app I have ever used to read digital content. There is a lot of weirdly unused white space in the app, and you lose quick access to the notification center, control center, and the dock (on the iPad). I will try out how the magazine looks in News+ at some point to compare.

  10. There are big semantic differences between censorship, curated and edited. My husband and quite a few of our friends and relatives have been devoted readers of the New York Times (which has announced they will not be participating in News+) since we were required to do so by the New York City school system in the 6th grade. Everyone has noticed differences between the print and digital editions since day one.

    Print magazines and newspapers have been struggling to survive since the dawn of the digital era. The original Texture magazine app was developed by a group of publishers out of sheer desperation. Think about how many periodicals folded, and how many cut frequency, print run, trim size, paper quality, reduced staff, produced sponsored content some swore they would never do, etc. How many newsstands or honor boxes do you see every day, and how many magazine and newspaper racks do you see in bookstores, supermarkets and convenience stores, as opposed to 10-15 years ago? Corner stores make lots more money on lottery tickets than publications.

    “Curated” means the publishers are doing something they need to do to try to stay in business; it does not necessarily mean any adjustment in editorial standards or quality. In the case of the WSJ making the decision to not include business and analysis in their News+ edition, they probably came to the conclusion that they would loose too many paid subscriptions. Though I don’t like it, I can understand it. I can also understand why the NYer and The NY Times need to tweak the wording on headers and subheads so that they might be more readable online as well as more readily findable in searches. It’s survival of the fittest in a very cruel world for publishers, not a comprise in standards.

  11. No answers or clues yet about the puzzle. I wouldn’t lay odds on it, but they might loose too many $32 monthly subscribers if they do.

  12. First, I subscribe to my local paper, and several magazines (13 at latest count) but only in print form so I seldom buy one at my local supermarket or bookstore. However, both carry a wide selection of magazines covering a vast array of subjects. The magazine section in the bookstore is the same physical size as it was when the store opened 20+ years ago and is so loaded with titles that it is sometimes hard to look for a particular one when I do go there to buy it. It even includes periodicals from outside these United States. However, I have noticed that a few magazines I used to subscribe to 10 to 20 years ago have ceased publication or merged with other publications. I even remember when “The Saturday Evening Post” was a weekly and “TV Guide” was an actual GUIDE!

    Second, no matter how you try to justify it, curation does result in censoring as the beliefs/positions of the curator (person and/or institution) have an effect on their/its selections. A leftist will tend to leave out moderate and conservative articles and vice versa. It may not be overt, but the censoring is there.

    BTW, I will NOT be getting News+.

  13. K[quote=“MMTalker, post:8, topic:8337”]
    What does bother me is reading in the paper today that the Wall Street Journal, which I have missed terribly since it went behind a paywall and I no longer have a free copy everyday at work, will not be including any of its business coverage in News+.
    [/quote]

    For what it’s worth, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    The Apple app will surface stories thought to be of interest to a general reader—that could be national news, politics, sports and leisure news, but also some business news, people familiar with the situation said. The paper’s entire slate of business and financial news will also be searchable within the app, but the thinking is that most users won’t consume much beyond what is actively presented to them.

  14. It wasn’t until Steve Jobs introduced iPod and iTunes for Windows that Apple began changing the Music world. They didn’t wait long to launch Music on Android and Windows. And Apple recently announced that the TV app will be included on Samsung TVs, and distribution with LG and others will be available shortly.

    Apple has made it very clear over the past 2-3 years that services will be an increasingly large % of their revenue streams. iPod and iTunes for Windows helped sell a lot of iPhones among Windows users when they became available, and I’ll bet it won’t be long before Android and Windows versions of TV+ become available.

  15. And I am REALLY PO’d that it will only run on the just released versions of iOS and OS. It won’t work on my older iPad and Mac. It will run on my iPhone 8+, but I hardly do any long form reading or watching on it. When my 4th gen iPad finally drops dead is when I’ll sign up for News+, though I wish I could do so now.

    I was also surprised that there was no hint about price, release date or system requirements for the new TV service, which I have been salivating over for quite some time and looks like it will live up to my expectations. But was anyone not surprised to see Steven Spielberg, who has been urinating all over Netflix in the press for quite some time and most recently and very vocally the last few weeks over the Oscars, doing kissy face with Apple? Amazing Stories and the rest of the original content lineup do look great to me.

  16. Many of the differences you see might be decisions made by the publishers and not Apple. At my magazine the articles on our web site that originally were printed in our magazine usually have different headlines. We find that digital readers want shorter and more direct headlines. They are less interested in cute headlines and puns.

    I believe that Apple means that recommendations will be curated by humans some of the time instead of always generated by algorithms. I don’t see this as censorship.

    Some publishers probably do not want to provide all of their content on Apple News+. I’ve read that the Wall Street Journal is making only some content available. This is not Apple’s decision, it is the decision of the WSJ.

    Last, Apple is trying to avoid the errors of the past. They are trying to provide the easiest way for publishers to put their material on Apple News. So they are not replicating the pages from their magazines, they are not posting PDFs of pages. Earlier attempts to recreate magazine pages on tablets were a failure. Too expensive and didn’t satisfy the reader.

    I’m not sure if Apple’s latest attempt will be a success for them or for publishers. But let’s see if it works.

  17. Well, they did say “this Fall” for TV+, so it will probably require iOS 13 which will be released in September. Ditto  Arcade. As for the  Card, that is slated for “this Summer” and will probably be part of an iOS12 update.

    It must be my age as I only recognized Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Oprah Winfrey, and Big Bird!

  18. I’m in the same boat as the guys above. I’m not going to pay for “curated” (read curtailed and pre-selected) content. I don’t care if it’s Apple’s fault, or if it’s because publishers think that’s what their digital readers want (I don’t consider myself too limited for titles that consist of more than 3 words) or if they think they’re saving the world with it. I don’t care about any of that. If you want my money, give me what you put in print. If not, die for all I care. Fortunately for me, there are great publications that actually sell a 100% digital copy of the content they put in print (in some cases even as a halfway decent app). I’ll be happy to spend my money there. I’m fine paying for that, I’m not looking for savings compared to paper. I’m looking for something I can read in 46K while wedged in between Buck and Mildred.

  19. romad
    Dennis Swaney

        March 26
    

    I even remember when “The Saturday Evening Post” was a weekly and “TV Guide” was an actual GUIDE!

    I worked in TV Guide’s national ad sales team on some of their largest accounts when it was still the second largest paid circulation publication in the US and the largest selling newsstand publication. I headed out the door when I saw what on screen cable/satellite guides would inevitably do to it, as well as the proliferation of shows and news coverage of shows and entertainers.

    Second, no matter how you try to justify it, curation does result in censoring as the beliefs/positions of the curator (person and/or institution) have an effect on their/its selections. A leftist will tend to leave out moderate and conservative articles and vice versa. It may not be overt, but the censoring is there.

    This is not necessarily true at all. Most publications do lean toward opinions, and their regular readers realize what their opinions tend to be. They curate items when they have to due to profitability and size requirements. Most publications, or rather the most respected ones, are very dedicated in giving at least some balance in coverage and including conflicting opinions. The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc., etc., do lean towards certain opinions, as do CNN, MSNBC and Fox News on TV, but they do make sure they give some representation to the opposing side. What would people argue about, which is what attracts audiences, if they didn’t?

    For anyone interested in how news publications are put together, there are two excellent videos that can be streamed or rented on DVD that demonstrate how editors make the calls for each edition - “All the President’s Men” and the final season of HBO’s “The Wire.” Woodward and Bernstein were involved in the former, and the show runners and writers of the latter were from the Baltimore Sun. The latter was written when digital media had begun devouring print, and gives more coverage of the havoc caused by the loss of ad dollars. They are both great entertainment in any event.

  20. ddmiller
    Doug Miller

        March 26
    

    K[quote=“MMTalker, post:8, topic:8337”]

    What does bother me is reading in the paper today that the Wall Street Journal, which I have missed terribly since it went behind a paywall and I no longer have a free copy everyday at work, will not be including any of its business coverage in News+.

    [/quote]

    For what it’s worth, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    The paragraph that precedes it states:

    “WSJ members will continue to have exclusive access to the rich business reporting and analysis about which they are so passionate.”

    I’m not a WSJ member and don’t intend to be.

  21. Apparently there were some server side issues that caused the app to crash earlier today, but should be working now.

  22. MacStories has put together a full list of all the magazines available in the US (only 251) along with notes on whether they’re in Apple News Format or standard PDF format (which doesn’t reformat to the screen size).

  23. Some interesting details about advertising in Apple News+ from Ad Age, which sheds some light about why so many publishers are participating:

    “Every ad from the print edition will be in the digital edition,” Olson says. “We think this is a great opportunity to bridge traditional magazine experience to the digital future.”

    Apple is taking the same model from its free Apple News service as it pertains to selling ads, Olson says. That means that it won’t allow advertisers to use highly targeted data collected about readers or retarget them elsewhere online when they leave the app. “They don’t allow advertisers to track you,” Olson says.

    Still, the magazines will be able to include the additional Apple News Plus readers in reports on audience sizes to advertisers, because the app is certified by the Alliance for Audited Media, Olson says.

    Apple will also open up ads in Apple News Plus, according to Olson, similar to how ads run in Apple News, giving publishers the flexibility to insert digital ads like they do in the free app. Publishers have the power to sell and deliver ads that appear in Apple News, although there are limited targeting options."

    There’s more details, including the scoop about revenue sharing subscriptions as well as ads:

    https://adage.com/article/digital/apple-reveals-news-service-usual-ad-antipathy/317117/

    I still haven’t run across info about whether or not there will be ad supported content in Apple TV+, or if they lined up content for rebroadcasting.

  24. Another thing missing from the News+ version of TNYer is the little “Spots” drawings that pepper any given issue. Not a huge loss but sometimes they’re quite fun.

    Overall, it seems like a weak product that will benefit Apple and leave the publishers fighting for measly scraps. I highly doubt that this is what’s going to save the magazine/news industry.

  25. I just received the following re: digital Wall Street Journal. They “curate” their digital edition.

    In both the iOS and Android mobile app, you’ll now find more newsy stories curated from our Dow Jones Newswires, giving you more opportunities to dive deeper on the industries and topics that matter to you. They’re available on section pages that now go much deeper. We’ve also streamlined navigation so you can find the news more quickly.

    David Tuma

  26. I don’t think most of what you say is even relevant. They are both digital editions he mentioned (not physical), so why on earth are sections, stories, and content missing from Apple’s version?

    If this is Apple “curation” then their News+ content (and indeed the whole News app) is doomed to fall into irrelevance. There’s no way in hell I’d subscribe to any service that gives me an edited-by-distributor “version” of publications.

    I knew it sounded too (half-)good to be true trusting Apple’s “News” app (known for being crap in technical functionality before “+” content arrived – e.g. it you haven’t refreshed a publication in a couple of days, then stories less than 2-days old are missing from the feed, with no way to get them back!). And this is just a sure sign of it on the editorial side.

  27. Sorry, but editing headlines is going to be unacceptable to most readers. I don’t subscribe to this being a technical issue; it certainly isn’t, as most headlines are succinct by their very nature – they’re exactly that headlines (a few brief words). Whether they appear on a paper PDF version or a stream in a print-lookalike, makes no sense to change them.

    Furthermore, there’s content missing too, so that’s only half the problem spoken about here.

    …I bet bylines don’t magically disappear in editing most of the time. LOL!

  28. What, a PDF was too expensive? More like the a PDF done correctly was too bothersome for many publications to bother with; hence readership failure.

    No, the publishers don’t want to give Apple’s service the full versions of their publications, as they want direct subscribers instead paying them more money directly. Regardless of the format, which publishers tended to be crap at anyway.

    The reason past attempts failed was the PDF interface was crap as publishers failed to recognise the effort involved in making them work properly (e.g. page linking, indexing, et al.) and didn’t bother, or because non-PDF, full-digital, formatting might have been better. But certainly NOT because the content (headlines), were not appealing enough to a digital audience.
    …no doubt they found some focus group to confirm the silly idea that digital customers are somehow massively inferior to physical customers, to be able to read a headline.

  29. jimthing

        March 29
    

    I don’t think most of what you say is even relevant. They are both digital editions he mentioned (not physical), so why on earth are sections, stories, and content missing from Apple’s version?

    Because News America cannot afford to loose subscribers or newsstand buyers. The WSJ is currently running a 50-60% off sale. For digital subscriptions, $19.50 per month for 6 months and 15.60 per month for a year. For six days days of home delivery of the NYC metro edition in the NYC area is $21.60 per month for 6 or 12 months. And these are introductory rates, prices go up. Current annual rates are $395.25 for 6 months and $387.75 for a year; keep in mind that print prices tend to go up every year as paper, ink and postage don’t get cheaper.

    https://store.wsj.com/shop/US/US/wsjusasa0419/?inttrackingCode=aaqt86ty&icid=WSJ_ON_PHP_ACQ_NA&n2IKsaD9=n2IKsaD9&Pg9aWOPT=Pg9aWOPT&Cp5dKJWb=Cp5dKJWb&APCc9OU1=APCc9OU1

    Print advertising revenues continue to hemorrhage drastically, and Google, Facebook and Amazon gobbled up 73.1% of total US digital ad spending last year.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/20/amazon-advertising-business-stealing-market-share-from-google.html

    Amazon’s market share has been growing rapidly and is expected to continue to do so, but not at the expense of Facebook and Google.

    If this is Apple “curation” then their News+ content (and indeed the whole News app) is doomed to fall into irrelevance. There’s no way in hell I’d subscribe to any service that gives me an edited-by-distributor “version” of publications.

    If you have been reading or subscribing to print publications or buying them at newsstands, the chances are very strong that you were reading many “curated” regional editions. The Wall Street Journal currently has twenty regional print editions in the US, and many international runs across the globe. They used to have 5-10 daily multi page designated local sections in top markets, but these were eliminated a few years ago. And they also have run cover splits, which were once quite common in magazines but very rare in dailies. Here’s a recent example:

    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/wsj-different-trump-headlines/

    When I worked for TV Guide in the 1990s they had 127 regional editions. I just checked some current rate cards, and USA Today has 24 regional editions (which is significantly down from the last two decades), Wired has 1 national, 5 local and I didn’t check their international editions.

    Even Gutenberg “curated” editions - he printed on two different types of paper. It was against the law at the time to produce a bible in any other language than Latin.

  30. Interesting. Yes, print editions have always had versions for various practical and localised editorial reasons, as you say. But digital editions that are missing large chunks of the main release are potentially significantly inferior enough to be unappealing and unpalatable to readers.

    So I’m still not convinced this going to sell well long term, to users of the AN+ service, in the digital age.

    Maybe it’s necessary for papers to have mini-editions on AN+ economically, but on this opening announcement, with Apple heavily touting it as having the WSJ (and others) fully onboard –clearly omitting the fact that it’s only a selection of the full publications– is a little misleading. And when a portion of AN+ subscribers realise they’re ‘missing lots of bits’, we’ll have to see how well the subscription service survives.

    TBH, I thought the AN+ announcement was a bit empty, which at the time I attributed to being because there wasn’t much to explain: sign-up, get this stuff to read, the end. But now I can see how they deliberately focused on the ‘how to’ technical info (“we’re doing beautiful non-PDF layouts, especially made to work on iPhone right up to Mac” type of thing), not the ‘why to’ editorial angle (no mention of what the content actually is, outside of the headline brand naming publications).

    We’ll see. Maybe users expectations are low enough that they’ll realise they only get sub-sections of most publications. But if this is the same here in an experienced market like the UK, IMO I don’t think it’ll sell well here either.

  31. I don’t want to be constantly reminded that Apple wants me to subscribe to News+. I don’t have ten bucks a month to spare right now. I have found no way to hide News+ from the sidebar. Has anyone figured this out?

  32. jimthing

        March 29
    

    Interesting. Yes, print editions have always had versions for various practical and localised editorial reasons, as you say. But digital editions that are missing large chunks of the main release are potentially significantly inferior enough to be unappealing and unpalatable to readers.

    If it were a freestanding package I would agree, but Apple is putting together a package of hundreds of magazines for $9.99 a month, which is a whole lot cheaper than a year’s subscription to the WSJ. I suspect they will end up with even more partners than those they just announced. While I am not happy that the Apple News+ edition of the WSJ won’t include business coverage and the NYer coverage will be limited, if I stumble across a lifestyle article or profile about something or someone I’m interested in, I’ll read it. Though the chances aren’t great in the near term, I suspect that because publications can count clicks on an issue in circulation audits, and Facebook, Google and Amazon are likely to continue to devour ad sales dollars, they might need more total audience numbers and reconsider.

    So I’m still not convinced this going to sell well long term, to users of the AN+ service, in the digital age.

    I strongly suspect the reason Apple hasn’t announced pricing on anything else other than News+ is that in addition to not having enough video and game content ready to roll, they are probably working out pricing packages as well.

    Maybe it’s necessary for papers to have mini-editions on AN+ economically, but on this opening announcement, with Apple heavily touting it as having the WSJ (and others) fully onboard –clearly omitting the fact that it’s only a selection of the full publications– is a little misleading. And when a portion of AN+ subscribers realise they’re ‘missing lots of bits’, we’ll have to see how well the subscription service survives.

    I suspect there will be pricing options for bundled packages. If I were Tim Cook, I’d also be thinking about throwing some extra iCloud storage into the mix.

    TBH, I thought the AN+ announcement was a bit empty, which at the time I attributed to being because there wasn’t much to explain: sign-up, get this stuff to read, the end.

    I strongly suspect this announcement was more to influence the entertainment and publishing powers that be, rather than consumers or developers. Like Josh mentioned in his TV+ article, Show Time was more a video upfront presentation than a typical Apple product unveiling. This one seems to me to be about getting more content providers and talent on board, which is why they trotted out some top marquee names that don’t work cheap. Disney and Amazon recently made some super expensive acquisitions that have begun to affect their balance sheets, Netflix upended the video and film businesses by paying very big bucks and giving creative freedom to top talent, but although they are they are the big one to beat in the streaming market, their profits to date have been small. Apple is sitting on hundreds of billions in cash, which most probably is why Stephen Spielberg, Ophra, etc., signed on with them. “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”

    But now I can see how they deliberately focused on the ‘how to’ technical info (“we’re doing beautiful non-PDF layouts, especially made to work on iPhone right up to Mac” type of thing), not the ‘why to’ editorial angle (no mention of what the content actually is, outside of the headline brand naming publications).

    So far, very few of the News+ participants have announced limited content. But the “one billion devices” that Oprah kept talking about is a tremendous competitive advantage. Look at how quickly it worked with Apple Music.

  33. A few years ago I did a survey and digital plan for a magazine looking to develop a digital version. It had a print run of 400,000 copies and needed a workflow, platform and budget etc to propose to their investors.

    And just to say it, it was non-trivial. The input from advertisers, the requirements of editorial teams and the ambitions of the art team as well as the overall scheduling and workflow, ability to share etc. All working with various versions from print through to web, the content of which will shift depending on audience/advertising/contractual agreements with writers/photographers, blah blah blah. This is a premier magazine, they aren’t here to pop a bare PDF up like issu.com, they care about the experience, how they are perceived, the relationship readers have with their magazine, the impact on advertisers and of course they’re focussed on their bottom line and their ability to deliver.

    Most authoring systems available for Apple’s platform at that point offered a kind of interactive PDF, where additional features (scrolling, video, galleries…) are added in with scripts with designated naming structures to be followed. Designers will take their iPad formatted versions of the magazine and, by hand, after some training, add in the additional features users have come to expect from a tablet experience. It’s not rocket science but it’s not that smooth, those that are of interest or quality are the more demanding of course. The billing structures for these systems are typically volume dependent. Only a few, low-end, ones are one off annual payments. I wondered when Apple came up with this offering if they would come up with their own version of a magazine authoring system. I see that they’ve come with Apple News Fomat, a JSON format to create stories with, but not a tool per se.

  34. After trying News+ a bit over the last few days, I’ve hit a couple of problems:

    • In the New Yorker, there’s no indication of how long articles are, or what column they’re in. When reading the paper magazine, there’s a consistent structure, so you know that the first bits will be short, then there’s a somewhat longer article, then the funny Shouts & Murmurs one-pager, then long feature articles, then the fiction (which I never read because every time I get suckered into it, it’s always depressing), and then the book, theater, and movie review articles. All that’s lost in the News+ version, so I just feel at sea the entire time, and I have no idea how far along I am in an article or the issue as whole. It’s a much bigger problem than with ebooks.

    • In Runners World, it’s nearly impossible to differentiate the full-page ads from the leads for major articles. Worse, the ads are just static, so even if I wanted to get more info about a particular pair of shoes or a race, I can’t just tap on the ad.

    • Apple hid the Like/Dislike buttons in the share sheet, which makes it harder to train the algorithm.

    I’m also not really that interested in having more to read—I already can’t keep up with all that’s available—so paying a lot more for the same amount (though a potentially greater diversity) of content seems like a bad deal. And if I was bored, which I never am, the free version of Apple News can already provide me with far more articles than I could possibly find time to read.

  35. That was exactly my thinking when I heard the announcement. I already subscribe to several paper and digital magazines (via Amazon’s $5/year promos) that I never have time to read, so why do I need more?

    Another thing struck me today. Someone sent me a link to an Apple News article and I had to read it within Apple News. I am so used to reading all my web content via Reader View (either in Safari or in my RSS reader) that I found the Apple News view jarring and far too noisy. Yes, it’s better than a regular web page, but all I want is bare content. I don’t need or want all the silly bells and whistles of formatted pages.

    I read some posts here and online about publishers wanting more control over the formatting of articles and so on, and the difficulty of digital editions. I say that’s ridiculous. All I want is the text. I don’t need interactive scripts, audiovisual crap, and barely even want photos. I think the big error with all these services is overthinking — like Apple’s “neat” moving magazine covers. They make nice demos but are not useful or needed.

    I’d pay for a simple service that would give me just bare articles (plain text) without ads, links to “related” articles (really just ads), and other distractions.

    One final complaint. When I read interesting stuff, I often forward it to friends. I vastly prefer to send the full article in the email in Reader View so they don’t have to follow the link and find the article online. I know that 90% of the time when I’m sent links I don’t bother to follow them as I can’t tell if the article is worth the trouble or not. Sending the full text solves that problem. I can skim and delete it if it’s not of interest.

    Within Apple News it is very difficult to forward a full article. I haven’t tried + yet, but since it’s a paid service, I suspect it’s the same or worse. That alone would make me not want to pay for it. What good it is if I can’t share the interesting bits?

    Maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

  36. ace
    Adam Engst

        March 30
    

    After trying News+ a bit over the last few days, I’ve hit a couple of problems:

    • In the New Yorker, there’s no indication of how long articles are, or what column they’re in. When reading the paper magazine, there’s a consistent structure, so you know that the first bits will be short, then there’s a somewhat longer article,

    That’s always a problem with translating print layouts to digital. Dealing with paper, ink, press requirements are a whole different universe than digital production. News+ articles have to accommodate iPhone SEs as well as Macs with big screens, and the artwork and copy will have to flow properly if a window size is adjusted.

    • then the funny Shouts & Murmurs one-pager, then long feature articles, then the fiction (which I never read because every time I get suckered into it, it’s always depressing), and then the book, theater, and movie review articles. All that’s lost in the News+ version, so I just feel at sea the entire time, and I have no idea how far along I am in an article or the issue as whole. It’s a much bigger problem than with ebooks.

    A very interesting point. I checked out News+ on Apple’s developer site, and they’ve got sets and subsets of “Components” and other stuff that sounds like there could be a learning curve the front end developers are dealing with, and Apple has signed up a lot of publishers that were not involved with Texture. I tried searching for details about production for Texture, but couldn’t find anything other than the app is being discontinued and the last day the service will be available is May 28th.

    • In Runners World, it’s nearly impossible to differentiate the full-page ads from the leads for major articles. Worse, the ads are just static, so even if I wanted to get more info about a particular pair of shoes or a race, I can’t just tap on the ad.

    I suspect Apple’s privacy policy might be the reason links don’t work. If something is clickable, it’s likely to be trackable. Publishers want to be able to charge for page views, which is probably why they are participating in News+. In one of my earlier posts, I pasted this quote from Ad Age:

    “Every ad from the print edition will be in the digital edition,” Olson says. “We think this is a great opportunity to bridge traditional magazine experience to the digital future.”

    Apple is taking the same model from its free Apple News service as it pertains to selling ads, Olson says. That means that it won’t allow advertisers to use highly targeted data collected about readers or retarget them elsewhere online when they leave the app. “They don’t allow advertisers to track you,” Olson says.

    Still, the magazines will be able to include the additional Apple News Plus readers in reports on audience sizes to advertisers, because the app is certified by the Alliance for Audited Media, Olson says.

    Apple will also open up ads in Apple News Plus, according to Olson, similar to how ads run in Apple News, giving publishers the flexibility to insert digital ads like they do in the free app. Publishers have the power to sell and deliver ads that appear in Apple News, although there are limited targeting options."

    https://adage.com/article/digital/apple-reveals-news-service-usual-ad-antipathy/317117/

    Personally, though it might be a PITA to have to search for a product you’ve seen advertised in News+, I’m glad Apple’s privacy policies continue to be very different from those of Facebook and others.

  37. That’s bizarre. I just signed up and downloaded an issue and it looks EXACTLY like the print magazine.

    And now I have discovered why: I downloaded an issue from a couple of weeks ago. That one was definitely in PDF format. Having opened the current issue, I see that it is different.

    For the current issue, as for where you are in an article, as you scroll, scroll bars appear on the right (which disappear as you stop scrolling.) FWIW, this is the exact behavior of the New Yorker iOS app.

    However, I’m a little surprised that you mention not knowing where you are. That’s exactly what happens when you read the print magazine. Once you have started an article, unless it is only one page, there is no indication in the margins anywhere which article you are reading, no indication how much longer the article will be. You need to flip the pages ahead to find out how much longer it will be, or back a few pages to see the title and author. All that the margins show are the issue date and page number. At least News+ and the digital edition expose the scroll bars (which are small when the article is long and large when the article is short, also a useful clue.)

    As for structure, the News+ edition is pretty much exactly the same. As previously mentioned, the Goings on About Town section is missing (as is the contributors section, which follows the table if contents and gives bios of the authors in the issue, is also missing in News+) but the issue flows from Mail to the Talk of the Town segments to the articles (with poems interspersed), fiction, then the reviews of books, theater, art, music, movies, etc. This is just like the print edition. Once you open Mail or an article from the contents, you can swipe right or left to go between the various articles in the same structure that’s in the print edition. I do see that the table of contents has featured articles listed first. That’s definitely different from the print edition, but I suspect that’s the New Yorker editors trying to expose their important articles first.

  38. Page fidelity is one thing, but what I’m talking about here is the implicit metadata surrounding the reading experience that exists due to a consistent publication structure. Because I know Shouts & Murmurs is never more than page and it’s likely to be funny, I always read it. And because I know the articles that follow it are features, I know they’ll take some time to read.

    The solutions are quite obvious. In the table of contents, the column name (Talk of the Town, Shouts & Murmurs, etc) could prefix the article title, for one. The ToC already sort of does this with Features and In This Issue. And it looks like some other magazines do this, so this would seem to be the New Yorker’s fault.

    But the other problem is some indication article length. Medium and some other sites calculate and show how long it will likely take you to read an article; there’s no reason Apple News couldn’t do this as well. The size of the elevator box in the scroll bar (to use the old Mac terms) gives a hint of that, but only a hint, since it won’t shrink beyond a certain size and just seems to scroll more slowly as you page through.

    Conceivable, but given Apple’s level of control over the app, I think Apple could easily completely anonymize clicks by running them through an Apple proxy. It’s amusing, because that’s the one thing that would make an ad more user-friendly in Apple News; I never bother to do an independent search on an advertised product in a magazine, but if I’m reading Runners World, I might actually be interested in the advertised products (and no thanks to personalization or tracking—I believe ads should be contextual to the content they’re in and no more).

    Far from it, because I know that if I’m in a longer article, it’s going to be multiple pages, and it’s extremely easy to look to the bottom right to see if it ends at the next spread, or is continued at a later page. I may not know exactly where I am, but I usually have a very good idea of roughly where I am because a much greater percentage of the article is within my field of view. Particularly when reading on an iPhone, that’s all lost.

    Yeah, that’s a lot of the problem. If I wasn’t familiar with the print magazine, it might have made sense, but without any column headings, moving the features to the front of the ToC completely threw off my understanding of the issue structure.

  39. xdev
    Marc Z

        March 30
    

    Another thing struck me today. Someone sent me a link to an Apple News article and I had to read it within Apple News. I am so used to reading all my web content via Reader View (either in Safari or in my RSS reader) that I found the Apple News view jarring and far too noisy. Yes, it’s better than a regular web page, but all I want is bare content. I don’t need or want all the silly bells and whistles of formatted pages.

    I agree with you about preferring Reader View. However, probably the biggest reason by far that publishers are participating is that they are very, very desperate for ad revenue. Paid subscriptions are almost always not profitable for magazines (most especially) and newspapers. And the costs of printing, shipping, postage, ink, paper, etc. go up at least every year.

    The NYTimes and some other newspapers have stated that they’ve been quite successful in converting readers from Apple News to paid subscribers. I strongly suspect they aren’t participating in News+ because they don’t want any of that revenue stream to diminish. The LA Times recently changed ownership. Its new owner is committed to restoring the paper to its former high journalistic standards, and has greatly expanded its newsrooms and budgets. Under its past owner, drastic cutbacks and a shifts in news and opinion coverage led to a huge hemorrhage in readers and therefore advertisers. So I think the LAT has nothing to loose and something to gain with News+.

    I read some posts here and online about publishers wanting more control over the formatting of articles and so on, and the difficulty of digital editions. I say that’s ridiculous. All I want is the text. I don’t need interactive scripts, audiovisual crap, and barely even want photos.

    Time Warner didn’t want to spin off their magazine division. Condé Nast wasn’t happy about folding Gourmet, Mademoiselle, Teen Vogue, and bunch of other what were once industry leading and enormously profitable publications. Even with the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, etc. still in their stable, they lost $120 million last year, and they still have a number of titles up for sale:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2018/08/01/business/media/conde-nast-vogue-magazines.amp.html

    Publications need the ad revenue to survive.

  40. FYI, this is not the best experience, but you can go to the WSJ.com web site in Safari in iOS, open any article there, and if it is for subscribers only, hit the share icon, share to “Open in Apple News”, and it will open the full article in Apple News if you are a News+ subscriber. Business coverage, too.

  41. Many magazines and newspapers have local and national editions. It’s not unusual for contents to be different and for headlines to change. The USA Today you get in the hotel isn’t necessary the USA Today you buy on the newsstand, for example.

  42. This is a terrific work around! Unfortunately, I can’t run the latest iOS on my very elderly iPad or the latest OS on my extremely elderly Mac. I don’t like reading News on my iPhone 8+. So I’m out of luck for News+ for awhile and not at all happy about it. I do think there is enough of a market for users of older devices that would be quite profitable for Apple. And like iTunes and Music, I bet there will be an Android version available in the not too distant future.

Join the discussion in the TidBITS Discourse forum

Participants