Apple News has quickly become an app I can’t live without
I’ve been using Apple News pretty much every day since it launched with iOS 9. This is the new app Apple released last year bringing together news stories from thousands of publications, both large and small.
Many in the tech sector don’t seem enamoured by the product. But while it is still far from perfect, it has, for me, become my primary source of news.
When you first use the app you are asked to subscribe to a combination of publications and topics. So, if you like The Guardian, you can subscribe directly to their ‘channel’ in the app. And if you’re a fan of The Voice UK, you can subscribe to that topic. As you build your list of favourite channels and topics, Apple then uses that information to generate one single For You feed that brings together news stories from those channels and topics.
The end result feels like a combination of Twitter and an RSS reader. It’s like Twitter in that you’ll serendipitously come across stories you’d never have found otherwise. But then it also has somewhat of the feel of a RSS reader that gives you a specific set of links based on what you’ve subscribed to.
Of course, most normal people don’t use an RSS reader and perhaps don’t have any idea what RSS is. And for techies who use an RSS reader, it’s easy to understand why they aren’t really getting into Apple News. It doesn’t deliver the same full control that a RSS reader does. But, for me, I prefer what I get through Apple News. I’ll take getting some articles that don’t interest me in exchange for interesting discoveries I’d not have found otherwise.
And for non-techies, I think it is a brilliant solution. An all-in-one app delivering stories from all your favourite publications and keeping you up-to-date with the topics that interest you.
One of the best things about Apple News is the Apple News Format. This is a special layout that some publications are able to use to display their stories in ways that are optimised and look beautiful within the Apple News app.
Even sites that aren’t (yet) able to utilise the Apple News Format get a clutter free simple display of their stories within the app. It pulls the RSS feed from their site and lays it out in an easy-to-read format.
There is a problem, however, with sites that don’t display a full RSS feed. Then you end up having to click two or three times to get to the content you’re trying to read and you end up with a display that often looks ugly and laden with ads. I would love Apple to include an option that restricts Apple News to only showing stories that are either in the Apple News Format or include all the content from the RSS feed.
There is definitely room for improvement with the app in many areas. If, like me, you subscribe to a lot of channels and topics, it makes it very difficult to quickly get to specific channels and topics that you want to jump into. There is a Favourites tab that is an alphabetically sorted arrangement of everything you’ve subscribed to. But I would like an option to choose a small selection of channels and/or topics that are always at the top of my favourites so I can quickly and easy jump into them.
Saving articles to read later is also somewhat messy. Apple has a system-wide tool called Reading List that is a great way to store the articles you want to save to read later. But this isn’t what Apple News uses. It has its own, separate Saved tab that is completely isolated from the Reading List. If I’m on my iMac, there is no way for me to access stories I’ve saved to read later, and this feels like a major flaw. I would prefer the Saved tab to be the Reading List. Anything I save should automatically be part of my system-wide saved articles. As it is, I don’t use the ‘Saved’ tab at all.
These problems aside, I would definitely recommend Apple News if you haven’t tried it yet. It is an engaging, easy-to-use, and well-designed app that I thoroughly enjoy dipping into several times a day.