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Hands-on with News in iOS 9: Apple's response to Facebook and Snapchat's content platforms

Oscar Raymundo | July 15, 2015
News is a flashy and fast reading app but more publishers need to adopt Apple News Format before it can truly shine.

Apple News Format brings flat content to life

Apple has recruited a select number of publishers to be launch partners for News, including Wired, CNN, The New York Times, The Atlantic, ESPN and Slate. These publishers worked directly with Apple to format a few feature stories in what Cupertino is calling "Apple News Format." This new format incorporates large images, video, slideshows, pop-up text and other multimedia features to create a dynamic and immersive reading experience.

In this public beta, Apple has pre-selected all the publishers who have articles in the Apple New Format as part of your custom magazine, presumably to show off the stylish, new format.

Furthermore, all articles that have adopted this format can be easily found under the Apple News Selections channel.

Apple News Format also uses its own tagging and category system to surface similar reads once you reach the end of an article. These tags are still a little funky, however. After reading an article about vintage cars in Cuba, News suggested I read an article about entrepreneur Mark Cuban. The suggested story had nothing to do with vehicles, nor the country in question.

Apple will be setting up more publishers to adopt the new Apple News Format in the coming months. Hopefully with more publishers onboard by the time iOS 9 comes out of beta later this year, News will have a wider selection of cool-looking articles and get better at categorizing these stories.

So far the selection of articles in Apple News Format is limited. Even though Wired is a News launch partner and has its cover story in this format, the rest of its articles look like they would in just about any RSS reader, with a main image and a two-sentence description before being prompted to read the rest of the article on Wired.com.

Swipe up and you're instantly taken to the publisher's website to read the entire article. Thankfully most full articles load surprisingly fast because they load right in the News app, as supposed to being taken to Safari. 

Cupertino's first foray as a content platform

News can be seen as a Newsstand replacement, a Flipboard competitor, or just another pretty RSS reader. But the fact that Apple has developed its own format for publishers to adopt makes News more reminiscent of other mobile content initiatives by Facebook and Snapchat.

Articles in the Apple News Format load very fast just like an Instant Article in the Facebook app, and they incorporate video and animations similar to Snapchat's Discover stories. Publishers are increasingly being courted as content providers for tech and social platforms. As more readers flock to these platforms to read stories and get breaking news, a publisher might not even need its own website, just strong partnerships with wide-reaching distribution channels.

 

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