Apple makes Apple News tools open to all

Apple News looking lovely on the iPhone

Some big news hitting about Apple News — the news reading app that ships with all iOS devices. The Washington Post:

Apple is getting really serious about the publishing business. The company announced Tuesday that it’s rolling out some big new tools for Apple News that can lure more writers and editors to the service — and improve it for current partners, as well.

Just to be clear — anyone can sign up and publish to Apple News, and have been since the start. Here’s One Man & His Blog on there, for example (Link will only work on iOS9 devices). This new move brings us the the ability to publish using the richer Apple News Format stories, though — and access to advertising tools with it. Up until now, only Apple partners have had that level of access — the rest of us have just been pushing RSS feeds into the system.

Big publisher privilege is on the clock

Like Facebook Instant Articles, we’ve had a period of time where the big publishers have had an advantage, but now the playing field suddenly gets more open. Privileged access is clearly a time-limited deal. And it doesn’t look like it’ll be too complicated a process — you can build Apple News Format stories direct in Apple’s interface, or push them from your own CMS. There’s a WordPress plugin for Apple News Format already.

Waiting for Apple to let me get my JSON on…

(With Instant Articles, Accelerated Mobile Pages and now Apple News Format all hitting us in a matter of months — this must be a shitty time to be running your own custom CMS, as that’s a tonne of development work right there. Anyone sitting on top of Drupal, WordPress or their ilk will just drop in a plugin and get on with it…)

Advertising (Apple) News

But that’s not all — Apple is starting pushing News harder with an advertising campaign:

If you’re in San Francisco, Chicago or New York, you might see the ads on billboards and in airports; the rest of you will have to look for it online.

And they look like this:

Not the image I immediatly associate with sports news — and that’s good.

Apple’s clearly taking its time on this product — iterating it, feeling its way into how it should work, and then ramping up the focus on it. But hey, at least it’s seeing development — unlike its previous effort Newsstand, which launched, and then languished. The interesting piece is that Apple News feels much more digital than Newsstand ever did — that was very much a print replication, shovelware sort of concept. Apple News feels very natural on iPhones — and iPads in particular.

You’ll need iOS 9.3 Beta for this look.

And other information is dribbling out — like the news about a sponsored article format.

Apple News certainly doesn’t feel like a “must publish” platform just yet — but it sure as hell feels like something any publisher should be watching carefully.

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