Move over Facebook Instant Articles — the Apple News feature is bringing some pretty fun changes to the way iOS-ers consume news. Apple unveiled News — the more intuitive, interactive replacement to Newsstand — at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. News will officially roll out to the public this fall as part of the iOS 9 update, but here's what we learned from the first look.
In the new app, users can pick and choose what content they want to see. They can select entire news sources, like The New York Times or WIRED, or sort content by topics, like technology or sports. (FYI, there are more than 1 million topics to choose from, so you no longer have an excuse to say that you can't find news that interests you.) These preferences are saved to a Favorites tab, which updates each time the app is opened, so users can always head straight to the newest content that's most relevant to them.
In many ways, News offers what Newsstand always left to be desired. Content will flow to users in a familiar feed-like format, rather than remaining separated by news source. News also promises to offer readers much more visually appealing content.
Publishers will have the option to format their content specifically for the News app, making use of features like photo mosaics and animations. These features make content more engaging for readers (and will probably make you wonder why anyone ever read a print newspaper). Publishers don't have to build their content specifically for News to post it in the app, but the added interactivity makes it an attractive choice.
Apple also said News will learn what content its users like in order to better suggest new content. Those handy preferences you enter when you search for a certain topic or open a certain source will allow Apple to predict what interests you and load new content accordingly.
Apple News has already secured a number of big-name publisher partners, including The New York Times, Buzzfeed, ESPN, and Condé Nast. If any of this is sounding familiar to you, it's probably because Apple's News announcement comes just three weeks after Facebook unveiled Instant Articles for its iOS app, partnering with some of the same news outlets. So far, Buzzfeed and The New York Times, along with some of Facebook's other partners, have each published one article via Instant Articles, though there's no word on whether or not they'll continue to use the platform. Apple News will likely compete with Instant Articles, though the fact that it's a native iOS app may help News perform better than Facebook's slow-growing counterpart.
Apple News seeks to make reading the news fun and accessible. If successful, it will combine the best of a magazine, a newspaper, and an e-reader.
Images: Apple (2)