Apple takes on Facebook with revamped news app

Apps

Apple revamped its news service on Monday, making a play to take on Facebook as the two tech giants court readers and publishers to be the top platform for news.

Media organisations including the Guardian, ESPN, the New York Times, Conde Nast, the Daily Mail and Hearst will produce content specifically designed for the new service, which will replace Newstand, Apple’s current news app.

“News [the app’s name] has the latest stories, articles, and posts, with over a million topics to choose from,” Susan Prescott, vice president of product marketing, told Apple’s WWDC developers’ conference. She said the service would track over 1m topics and allow readers to follow all their favourite news sources as well as using search to discover new sources.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said the New York Times would initially provide 33 articles a day tailored to the service as would other publishers including ESPN and Conde Nast magazine’s including Vogue and Vanity Fair.

While content will be hosted and delivered on Apple’s platform, the publishers will own the content and control the format of articles. Publishers will also be able to sell premium ads through the app and keep the revenue. The service looks similar to Flipboard, an app that severs up news and other articles in a magazine-like format, and can be tailored to location as well as other preferences.

Tony Danker, international director, Guardian News & Media, said: “We’re excited to be a launch partner for Apple News. Like Apple, we are increasingly seeing a surge in demand for original, high quality journalism from millions of new readers. And we are delighted that Apple and other large platforms recognise the value and influence of Guardian journalism.”

Apple’s Newsstand, launched in 2011, was heralded as the saviour of newspaper and magazine market in the internet-connected, smartphone and tablet era. The app saw digital magazine and newspaper revenue quadruple in the first year.

But more recently publishers have complained that Newsstand hides content rather than highlights it. Many have switched to standalone apps dedicated to pulling content from websites, like the Guardian app, which has offered them greater visibility both on the iPad homescreen and within stores.

Publishers will now sell apps directly within the App Store like any other app, with Apple continuing to take a 30% cut of revenue from subscriptions.

Within the new Flipboard-style app, publishers participating and displaying content will keep 100% of revenue for ads they sell around their content. Apple will also help sell unsold ad slots for a fee, according to the tech site Recode.

The revamp comes after Facebook revamped its news service and announced it would partner with publishers to promote stories.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Samuel Gibbs and Dominic Rushe, for theguardian.com on Monday 8th June 2015 17.15 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010