Apple News opens up to all publishers but will readers care?

Apple finally welcomes all publishers to Apple News. But it may be too little and too late to hook many news readers into using the Apple News app.

apple news

Apple has finally opened up Apple News to all publishers, including bloggers and other independent publishers. What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not this move will really increase the value of Apple News and make it a must-use app for folks reading the news.

I'm still quite skeptical about the long-term success of the Apple News app. I'll share my thoughts about it below, but first check out Vanity Fair's report on more publishers being able to access Apple News.

Emily Jane Fox reports for Vanity Fair:

Apple News’s 40 million users are about to have a lot more articles to read. The iPhone maker announced Tuesday the launch of a new Web-based editing tool that will open its native iOS news platform to independent publishers of all sizes.

Since Apple launched the app in September, it has attracted more than 100 major publishers as partners, including this magazine’s Web site. What the new launch means is that anyone—from individual bloggers to smaller, independent news organizations—will be able to edit and deliver their stories, videos, galleries, and audio in the Apple News format, with Apple News’s reach.

Establishing itself with major players first, then opening the doors to independent and emerging publishers, is very much in keeping with the strategy Apple has pursued in expanding into other media markets. With music, for example, Apple first launched iTunes with artists represented by the five biggest record labels. Now, of course, smaller labels and individual artists can go through Apple directly to get their music to listeners. Apple repeated the pattern with TV and movies, before moving on to News.

More at Vanity Fair

I dumped Apple News shortly after it was first released

On each of my iOS devices, I have a folder for unused Apple apps. I put the apps that I don’t care about but can’t delete into that folder. And it didn’t take long for Apple News to end up there.

Why did I get rid of Apple News? Well, in short, it really wasn’t much more than a glorified RSS reader, and it wasn’t even a very good one. I barked about that in more detail in a post from back in July 2015.

One of the things I hated most about it was that I couldn’t even add my own preferred RSS feeds to Apple News. I was basically stuck with whatever sites Apple had picked for a particular news topic. I found that limitation quite frustrating since Apple’s choices did not necessarily meet my needs.

I also found that Apple’s political news choices were slanted to the left and my own politics tilt to the libertarian right. So why would I waste my time trying to find political news that interested me via Apple News? I don’t mind left-wing sites being available, but I felt that Apple’s news editors needed to offer a wider range of choices.

Apple News just came across to me as a crippled RSS reader so into the junk folder it went, and I haven't bothered with it very often since then.

My favorite alternatives to the Apple News app

Instead of using Apple News, I opted to use Reeder 3 and MacHash.

Reeder 3 is a great RSS app that lets me add my preferred RSS feeds. I can add them at the top level or put them into folders. I have total control over the sources of my news, regardless of whether I want political news or any other news topic.

For news about Apple and its products, I stumbled onto a great little app called MacHash. MacHash comes with a ton of great sites already set up that cover Apple, the iPad, iPhone, etc. Since I write this blog I obviously need to keep up with news about Apple, and MacHash makes it incredibly easy for me to do so.

Between MacHash and Reeder 3, I just haven’t needed or wanted to use Apple News. It doesn’t give me anything I can’t already get in better ways from my other two news apps.

Publishers who use Apple News will still be at the mercy of Apple

I suppose that the argument could be made that more publishers will bring more readers to Apple News. But the problem with that idea is that, as far as I can tell, Apple will still decide which publishers are acceptable and which are not.

I checked out the Apple News sign up process and found this text in the End User License Agreement for Apple News, take note of the section that I put in bolded italics:

Access. Access to Apple News Publisher is provided solely as an accommodation and at Apple’s sole discretion, and is available only to (a) authorized representatives of an entity (a “Content Provider”) that has one or more valid agreements with Apple or Apple affiliates relating to the offering of the Content Provider’s materials in Apple News (each, an “Agreement”) (such representatives, “Provider Representative(s)”) and (b) creators or authorized representatives of creators whose materials are offered in Apple News by the Content Provider (“Creator Representative(s)”), which Creator Representatives have been granted access to Apple News Publisher by the Content Provider or Apple solely for purposes of uploading and managing Creator’s content. In addition, limited access to Apple for certain purposes (including delivery of materials to be offered for potential distribution pursuant to a future Agreement) is available to authorized representatives of entities that have applied, and have been invited by Apple, to enter into an Agreement. Your access to particular Apple News Publisher services may be further limited by the Apple News Publisher administrative user(s) for the Content Provider with which you are associated.

So it seems pretty clear that Apple will ultimately decide whether or not a publisher can publish via Apple News. I wonder how long it will be until there's a news story about one publisher or another being booted out of Apple News for some sort of content violations? Wait and see, I bet it happens at some point.

Another issue for publishers is the Apple News format itself. Once a publisher opts to use the Apple News format, its RSS content will no longer be available in Apple News. In short, publishers will have no choice but to use the Apple News format.

This may not matter to many publishers, but it’s certainly something worth considering. It means that publishers will have to support yet another format for their content, and for some of them it may simply not be worth it.

I hope Apple News succeeds but I’m not holding my breath

Despite the concerns I’ve noted in this post, I hope Apple News succeeds. It certainly has the potential to be a useful app, but I’m not holding my breath for it either. Apple went down this road before with its Newsstand app and that ended up being removed after languishing for a long time.

So you can consider me still very skeptical about Apple News. Welcoming in more publishers may give it a temporary boost, but I am still quite doubtful that Apple News will end up lasting over the long haul.

For my news reading in iOS, I’ll be sticking with Reeder 3 and MacHash.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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