Apple News is Apple's latest attempt to make newspapers and magazines relevant in an era of smartphones and tablets. Unlike Newsstand's virtual periodicals, Apple News presents news as a dynamic feed - a personalised digital magazine of sorts with stories taken from various places.
According to Apple's vice president of product marketing, Susan Prescott, this results in "beautiful content from the world's greatest sources, personalised for you." And Apple adds that you'll "no longer need to move from app to app to stay informed." This is a system all about convenience and perhaps another slap in the face for Google, in keeping you away from the web.
Apple News will launch as part of iOS 9.
Getting started with Apple News
On first launching Apple News, it needs to get a sense of what you like. You select from a list of publications and topics, and News then creates your personalised feed. Called 'For You', it presents all your news in one place on an easily scannable grid of images and headlines, and it updates every time you check the app.
On selecting a story, it opens for you to read. If it's been created using Apple News Format, you'll potentially get especially rich layouts and animations, along with inline photo galleries and Flickr-like photo mosaics. If you find you don't have time to read something that looks really interesting, and don't want to risk 'losing' it, the article can be bookmarked for later.
News constantly analyses whatever you read, its aim being to get better at showing stories you're interested in. Apple notes, though, that News was designed from the ground up with privacy in mind so what you read is not linked to other Apple services, and individual data is not shared with third parties.
If Apple News isn't quite hitting the right spot, you can tap the Explore button and rummage around a range of publisher channels and topics. Apple states that News tracks more than a million of the latter, and you can drill down into very specific topics via Search. Should you then wish to focus on any given topic or publication you've expressed an interest in, you can do so via Favorites. With publications, this is fairly close to a more typical magazine experience, albeit with the various interface and layout conditions and restrictions News imposes.
Alternatives to Apple News
Apple News isn't a new idea - it's merely Apple's take on news aggregation. As such, plenty of alternatives already exist, the closest to News perhaps being Flipboard. This free app has a similar on-boarding process to News, building a personalised feed from selected topics; its grid of articles looks broadly similar, too, but its 'flip' page turns when reading articles provide a neat visual and gestural link to publishing's past. Flipboard also appears to have some advantages over News, not least its cross-platform nature, but also through its social awareness you can flip through Twitter feeds and create magazines that can be easily shared.
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