Thursday, February 15, 2024

Apple News You Can’t Use

Joe Rosensteel (Mastodon):

Apple News+’s problems start with Apple News as an app. The page layout is both cramped, and light on all the relevant details. Headlines get awkwardly cropped, and the first impression of the app is always the front page of a newspaper where an editorial team has selected relevant stories for a mass market from a range of national publications. Severing the pieces from any wider context from those publications, but placing them next to each other to show Apple News is impartial.


The LA Times in the LA Times app is better than the LA Times in Apple News, and anyone who thinks they’re getting the fullness of a publication from their single Apple News+ subscription is absolutely not. That includes things like layouts, special reporting, recipes, etc.

Additionally, ads are also part of the Apple News app layout, and the quality of the advertising is lowest common denominator bullshit that might as well be Taboola ads.


Assuming I survive running the gauntlet that is the Apple News app and I want to share an article quickly, and easily with other people, I can’t even do that. Apple wants to hijack that relationship and would prefer I send News/News+ links. For Apple, the important thing is to grow the number of people in the News app, and grow News+ subscribers, but for me the important thing is that someone can read what I sent them to read.

The bottom line for me is that it seems to offer less control over what I see than Safari RSS did, and the reading experience is far worse than in a Web browser.

Eric Schwarz:

Every time that I give the service a try, I always quickly lose interest and then let the trial lapse. […] I found it frustrating that blocked sources and topics would still surface: even though “Sports” is a prominent section, it will show you all popular sports, no matter how many times you tell it you’re not interested in a particular one. The general tone can be best described as “cheap”—it’s not a place I enjoyed browsing.


Update (2024-03-21): Joe Rosensteel:

I would like to detail some things that I think would help to make the News app and News+ service more appealing.


The editors can weight stories that are of interest to surface in that region, but those weights should be overridden by any blocking, or content filtration, that a user wants to employ.


Instead of voting on individual stories with thumbs that don’t seem to mean a goddamn thing, or blocking an entire news outlet, what if we could filter by words, or phrases. You know, like in ye olden days? I can filter email, surely I can filter news, which we’ve already established is an inbox.


I already use iCloud Hide My Email addresses to subscribe to newsletters for some layer of privacy, how nice would it be to have an iCloud email address that ingested newsletters into Apple News?


Flat out we need to get rid of the round rectangles that are too small to show an entire headline. That can’t be a thing.

Update (2024-04-24): John Gruber:

While I’m singing the praises of Electron apps, I should also praise the memory efficiency of Catalyst apps, especially Apple’s own. 1.5 GB for a single-window app.

9 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

On the other hand, when a for-pay article pops up (like from WSJ) I do read it there because it's the only way I can read it for free!

I'll do everyone a favor and save you the cost of an Apple News subscription:

"This Cheap Piece Of Junk Has 10 Million Five Star Reviews And Is 50% Off On Amazon Today (And Every Other Day)"

"I Review Daffodil Stems For A Living And This Is The Best One I've Seen In February 2024"

"Will Brushing Your Teeth Before Bed Keep You From Getting Computer Viruses? Experts Weigh In"

"A Major Tech Company Just Updated Their Software And You Won't Believe What People Are Hyped About"

That's it. Anything else you can also get from a $40/year Washington Post subscription.

News is the highest example of Apple's enshittification due to Services.

"For Apple, the important thing is to grow the number of people in the News app, and grow News+ subscribers, but for me the important thing is that someone can read what I sent them to read."

Every other company is doing this too and I had hoped Apple would resist.

Apple's latest enshitification, for which they blame the EU:

I remember considering whether News+ was worth the price. Then I saw it had Computer Arts UK magazine. Shut up and take my money. Two months later, the publisher went bankrupt and the magazine shut down forever.

I just recently cancelled my trial which was due to end at the end of this month; it was more important to me to be out of there and not get billed than it was to get maximum "value" out of it while I could. Nobody's there, and of those who are, you get the cheap, lite version of the publication with stories that are covered well enough elsewhere or can be gotten to with a bit of work to overcome a protest paywall. Really, forget it. It's shit.

Apple News+ is needlessly confusing, and it constantly feeds me stuff I'm definitely not interested in (although they have thankfully added the ability to ban certain publications and topics from my feed, which didn't exist when I tried it a few years ago. The only reason I use it is because it's included with my family plan Apple One. Google News shows me much more relevant stories, despite using it with a Google account that I created solely for Google News. It actually seems to tailor the experience based on which topics I read the most, which I have not really noticed with Apple News.

Agree with everyone and everything they said. I had a free trial and was truly disappointed.

I had hoped that Apple, given its infinite UX experience, would make a transformative product that brought order to the chaos. Instead, it's just a jumbled mess, much like all the other news aggregators. It's not even much of an app—it might as well be a website!

And call me an old fogey, but back in my day, "+" meant there were no ads.

Apple News, like most of their other services, is a minimum effort money grab akin to everything else I’ve come to associate with Eddy Cue. See also the user interface on Apple TV.

Also for anyone who thinks this is the only way to access WSJ articles without a subscription, I introduce you to

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