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How Apple could turn News into an industry leader

Michael Simon | March 4, 2016
The News app could be a lot better than it is today.

But these are superficial improvements that would mostly benefit current users, not entice new ones. To that end, it first and foremost needs a presence on all devices. The lack of a Mac app is a glaring omission, but an Apple Watch component would helpful too, alerting you to articles a they arrive and letting you quickly flag headlines for later viewing.

Above all, the killer feature Apple News is missing is a digest. Through the day, Apple News labels a handful of articles with “Top Story” tags, but they’re easy to miss, especially if you don’t routinely check the app. A digest could key you in to what’s happening without the need to scroll through hundreds of headlines. And much like Apple Music’s For You recommendations help you find music from lesser-known artists, Apple News could use its editors and algorithms to spotlight smaller publishers and interesting stories that you might otherwise scroll past.

Extra, extra

In today’s 24/7, multimedia news culture, words are only part of the story. Apple News already incorporates photos and videos into its article presentations, but that’s the same as other sites or services. Apple just happens to own a radio station. While Beats 1 is devoted to music, Apple has already filed trademarks for Beats 2–6, and I could imagine a radio channel providing breaking coverage and analysis of the most popular stories on Apple News.

Above all, news readers need content to thrive. There are rumors that Apple will be working to offer subscriptions directly within the app, but I wonder if there’s a new model that follows Apple Music’s all-you-can-eat format. Perhaps Apple could collect a selection of articles each day from premium publishers and charge a monthly fee to read them, or even commission exclusive articles available only to subscribers.

Any journalist will tell you that it’s not the news industry that’s dying, it’s the distribution method. It’s kind of like the problem the music industry had before the iTunes Store paved the way for change, and with the right changes, Apple News could do the same for publishing.

 

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