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Apple replaces Newsstand with Flipboard-style app called News

Glenn Fleishman | June 10, 2015
Newsstand's replacement, News, gathers user-selected and algorithmically picked news sources into a single app iOS 9 that repackages stories to display richly at any size.

news app partner publication display
News users select content from partner publications, as well as websites (not pictured).

iOS 9 users will pick news sources to add, which can be a mix of Apple partners and ordinary websites, but it can and will produce a selection of articles related to what you're already looking at. Apple's vice president of product marketing Susan Prescott (who joined Apple from Adobe in 2003) showed off partner periodicals during an on-stage demo of News during the keynote.

It's unclear precisely how Apple will pick content from sites other than partners for its curated results. John Gruber's Daring Fireball was mentioned during the demonstration, and Prescott said that through machine-learning algorithms, Apple had organized a million searchable topics, which would indicate a large starting point for websites.

Federighi said News will launch with a number of media companies and several dozen publications, including print/digital publications like GQWired, the New York TimesFortune, and the Economist, as well as born-digital outlets like Buzzfeed, Quartz, and the Verge, and cable networks with strong online components like ESPN and CNN. Condé Nast has 17 magazines committed, he said.

news app has dozens of launch partners
Apple has announced several dozen publications as initial partners with the News app.

The New York Times will offer 30 news articles free daily through News. TheEconomist will regularly update a package of articles, charts, and videos selected specifically for the app. "We see this new app as an extension of our existing sampling strategy, which involves making a carefully chosen selection of our stories, charts and multimedia available free on social platforms, on our website and in our apps," said Economist Deputy Editor Tom Standage.

The News app doesn't integrate subscriptions or in-app purchases. Like an updated RSS reader, News will only show freely available content, although Apple allows publications to include ads and keep 100 percent of proceeds, as well as use its iAds platform and keep 70 percent of revenue.

news app assembles magazine page
A homepage will show newer articles like a magazine tables of contents.

This approach means that publications like the Times, theFinancial Times, the Economist, and others that rely on subscription revenue for part or a majority of revenue will need to maintain native or web apps for full access, but can use the News app to push a subset of content to produce ad revenue and entice subscriptions. Media outlets that rely entirely on advertising can push everything to News as if it were just another kind of web browser.

The News app tracks closely initiatives at other digital giants to bring in professional reporting and timeliness, such as Facebook's recently launched Instant Articles. Instant Articles was announced May 12 with some fanfare, but no new articles have appeared in the format for three weeks.

News launches initially in the U.S., UK, and Australia, bundled within iOS 9. This limitation may in part be based on its machine-learning algorithms, which are by nature language specific.

 

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