A month using Apple News+

#1

Frankly, I never paid much attention to Apple News. I took a quick look at it when it came out in iOS 9 back in 2015, but it didn’t really grab me. Recently, though, I was intrigued by elements of Apple News+ and decided to give it a try. I think Apple News is going to end up being my primary news source, but for reasons that have a lot more to do with my behavior than the new Apple News+ features.

For many years my primary news sources have been the Google News page and a collection of news feeds in my RSS reader. When Apple announced their Apple News+ service, including a 1-month free trial, I decided to give it a go (it also finally got me to upgrade my iMac to Mojave so I could have Apple News available on the desktop).

I find that Apple News doesn’t trigger my completionist tendencies the way RSS does. I have enough RSS feeds that I rarely get through them all. While intellectually I’m OK with this, the big unread count does seem to lodge in the back of my mind and bother me. Apple News doesn’t have an unread count. It has a huge amount of content, much of which doesn’t interest me, so leaving articles unread doesn’t bother me as much.

The other interesting benefit of Apple News is that it doesn’t get updated as often as Google News. I expect part of this is because it’s a curated news source rather than being algorithmically generated like Google. While “not updated as frequently” doesn’t seem like it would be a selling point for a news source, I’m finding it beneficial. Hitting refresh on the Google News page is kind of like pulling the lever on a slot machine. You don’t get new content every time, but you get new stuff often enough to keep doing it. Refreshing Apple News doesn’t result in new content nearly as often. The best way to get new stuff in Apple News is to close it and come back a couple of hours later. This way it pushes me more towards sitting down to read the news a few times per day rather than constantly checking if there’s anything new.

Some minor issues: I find it annoying that the back button is in somewhat different spots on iOS and macOS. The news app on the Mac crashes occasionally (though I never encountered a cycle of constant crashing that some people did soon after the Apple services event).

Overall, I’m surprisingly happy with the Apple News app. The Apple News+ service, on the other hand, is much more of a mixed bag for me. I didn’t get much out of the magazine content. I don’t subscribe to any magazines and there’s not much in the News+ catalog that interests me.

The only newspapers that the service offers are the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. The LA Times isn’t at the top of the list of newspapers I’m interested in. The WSJ does hold more interest for me. As people have noted, Apple News+ does not offer access to everything in the Journal, just a selection of articles. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Wall Street Journal articles I wanted to read were available with the Apple News+ subscription, but I did run into a few that require a subscription.

At this point, access to the Wall Street Journal would be the biggest selling point for Apple News+ for me, but I don’t know if I would get $10 per month of value out of that. If I decided to pay for news sources, I’d probably get more out of the New York Times or Washington Post.

For now, at least, I canceled my Apple News+ subscription before the trial period ended. I may come back if they add more newspapers in the future. It would also be an appealing addition to some sort of Apple services bundle, but as a standalone product, Apple News+ isn’t worth it for me.

The Apple News App, on the other hand, is an unexpectedly good fit. I’ve deleted most of my general purpose news feeds out of my RSS reader, and I’m opening up Apple News once or twice a day instead.


Shameless link to this post on my blog.

3 Likes
#2

I’ve been using Apple News pretty consistently for about a year. It took over about 50% of my news reading time from RSS. I’d really come to appreciate and enjoy both the full screen browsing experience of a newspaper like layout as well as the article reading experience. That said, I found the ads an annoyance and now with the News+ taking over bigger chunks of my screen I’ve decided to go back to Newsify using the newspaper layout for article browsing. I really wish Apple offered a chance to turn off the + stuff for those of us not subscribed. Having all the those articles mixed into my content bothers me.

I know what you mean though about having the unread/read stuff in RSS. I’ve minimized this by turning off the badge and just keeping the articles the same, read or not. It makes for an experience very similar to Apple News but without the distraction/screen waste of the + content.

1 Like
#3

I canceled my News+ subscription after the trial period. I found I just wasn’t using it for the added content. It has some magazines I’m interested in, but most of those I’m already subscribed to. The interface and features in News+ weren’t enough to have me cancel my subscriptions (and quite frankly, I enjoy reading paper copies of much of the content).

So I decided to save myself $10/mo.

2 Likes
#4

I was a Zite user before Flipboard and now for some time Apple News. But whereas Zite seemed to be quite good at molding itself around your interests, Flipboard and Apple News are not IMHO. Apple News constantly suggests topics I dont care about and I find I have to block these or skip over some how. Additionally, I find the article’s intellectual quality well, ah, lacking if not trashy/gutter/cheap. Part of that may have to do with me who is now very very tired of all the politics, over dramatization of all the news agency and stereo typical tech-talk articles who really have little new to say.

So I didnt think I was going to like News+ My first few minute experience with the app were bad; i think Apple implemented this in a most unclear way. But got the hang of it after some exploring. I do purchase a magazine sometime so I just mozied over to the familiar ones and started reading. The magazine news stream (if you may call it that) is slower and deeper and less frequent than the “News stream”. I find it a more rewarding experience, it adds something (knowledge, interest, aha-moments etc), whereas typical “news” distracts, destroys and is regurgitated over and over. I perceived that “unread count” as a burden as you did but I also perceive the negativism, drama and fluffly click bait articles as a burden. Apple news, flipboard etc. is full with this sadly enough.

So I will probably stay with News+ for a while…

#5

Question, with Apple News+, do you get full access to WSJ content? If so, then $10/month for Apple News+ is a good deal, because a standalone WSJ digital subscription can range anywhere from $15 - $30+ a month by itself. Or is WSJ an add-on to the Apple News+ subscription? Kind of like how premium channels like Starz, Showtime, and HBO work on Amazon Prime.

#6

With the $10/month Apple News+ subscription you get access to a subset of WSJ content. That said I only ran into 2 articles during the free trial that weren’t included in the Apple News+ content.

1 Like
#7

Thanks for the info @ChrisUpchurch. But this knowledge makes me even less likely to try Apple News+. As I’ve said before, these companies have lost the desire to improve their offerings to the customer. They simply want their piece of the customer’s wallet.

#8

Perhaps it is me but … I am really not all that interested in what Apple thinks I am. I want to read international news events, not editorial gossip. But that article about the next great thing in the Marvel Comic Universe looks so … inviting. Oh. Well. Just this once. Gosh, and that one about Princess Megan could be interesting too. Oh. Well. Just this once. … (repeat a few times) … … A few days later … Why the heck does Apple News keep giving me all this … JUNK!!!

I am trying. Heaven knows I am trying. Just to stay with Newsify on my iPad. I am. Really.


JJW

#9

Agreed on this. Need less collections of stuff piling up in my digital life.

I do wish I could tell it to stop showing opinion pieces from newspapers. I’d rather it concentrate on real articles.

1 Like
#10

I’ve found that disliking a story and weeding out the stuff you don’t want to see helps it focus into what you really want to read. I started using Apple News more after I deleted my Facebook account.
At the 10 price tag it’s worth it for me. The magazines that are in the Apple format are amazing.

#11

I gave News+ the one month free trial, and ultimately decided not to keep the subscription. While I think there is tremendous value for the majority of folks, I tend to read less and less magazines and I was missing my deep dives into the inner pages of the big newspapers. I didn’t like that a handful of articles were being curated for me daily, so I would often go directly to the website of the newspaper and go everything anyway.

#12

I said in the OP I’d probably get more out of subscribing to the Washington Post than Apple News+. @bowline posted a link to a 1 year digital subscription to the Post for $25 for World Press Freedom Day and I decided to put my money where my mouth was and subscribed.

2 Likes
#13

FYI the WaPo has three iOS apps for users: a curated digital ‘select’ app which has a white logo on purple background (which I tend to dip into for current, mainstream news), a full-featured one with white logo on black background that has all local and international news and opinions, and one with black logo on white background which provides (pdf?) views of every page in the newsprint edition (which I have on my phone but never really use)

zv_471

1 Like
#14

I need to get the black background one then.

I’ll also note that Apple News makes it easy to verify a Washington Post subscription inside the app to access WaPo subscriber-only content in the News app.

2 Likes
#15

Thanks Chris.

I think if the WSJ was a full access and they had the Chicago Tribune and possibly a couple other newspapers I would think about it, but for now I will keep using Apple News, Flipboard, and my RSS feed. I would like the WSJ but their subscription rate is more than I want to spend and I want more newspaper options before dropping more coin on another subscription with Apple.

#16

I like Apple News+ so much I’ve cancelled all my doctors appointments! Kidding, but the truth is I only ever read magazines in doctors waiting rooms. I’ll pay for it a few months.

#17

Sigh. Since I liked Texture just fine, I fully expected to keep my subscription to Apple News+ once my trial period was over. Probably not. I can live with the fact that the service is, as widely noted, built around individual magazine issues — that is, one has access to articles published in a given issue, but not to any web-only content that lives behind a paywall. (In the case of magazines like The New Yorker and New York, a LOT of content falls into that category.) But so far, the Apple News+ version of The New Yorker doesn’t come with the magazine’s famous cartoons! And I don’t mean that the “Cartoon Gallery” feature that came with Texture is gone; I mean there are not any cartoons AT ALL. Geez Louise, what were the powers that be at Apple and Condé Nast thinking?

Plus, I’ve discovered that my New York Public Library card gives me free access to a generous array of magazines and newspapers via Flipster and PressReader. They’re not as pretty as Apple News+, but the UI is more than functional and, with my library card, they’re free. They don’t have some of the titles Apple News+ has (e.g., National Geographic) but then they have some that Apple News+ doesn’t (e.g.,The New York Review of Books plus, via PressReader, lots of non-English titles).

So, I think I’ll pass on Apple News+, support the publications I read regularly by subscribing to them directly, and use my public library’s digital resources for everything else.