I’ve had content from my websites being sent to Apple news using RSS for about a year now. I don’t have any information about how well the articles will been read there but I’m sure it’s got some extra eyeballs. I recently saw a update to the Apple News publishing format and I watched a couple of developer videos showing how to create the articles by hand to add extra jazz to them. So I went in to News Publisher via my iCloud and I did the suggested thing of changing from the RSS feed to the news publisher format. This was a bad idea!
Have to submit to Apple
From then on the articles have to be submitted to Apple. Maybe it is the case that once you have had a couple reviewed after that you can just publish your stuff. Who knows? I didn’t get past the submission stage. I find it hard to believe that a supposedly International company with the resources available to Apple only puts the news publisher in the USA, the UK and Australia. I live in Spain, but I write in English because I am British. So my content is all for the English speaking markets. I was dismayed to find Apple disabled my account because of my geolocation.
Why isn’t Apple able to roll this out worldwide right from the start? Why can’t they see when content is in English that it should be getting published anyway? Why are they using such a ham-fisted approach to putting Apple News on to the devices? Yes I am a bit miffed with Apple News and how they are handling it.
Not enough people on the job
It took about a week for them to make their decision. When they did it they didn’t say why. They obviously don’t have enough people working in this Apple News department. Apple knows there is a problem here because they put up a message to say that it might take a long time to get feedback from their support department. A sure sign there’s not enough people working in this area for Apple. You have to wonder whether Apple are serious about this news format.
A coders format
There is a web-based application allowing you to add text and photos to put in to a Apple News article. Unfortunately, there is no way to tweak the settings for the article to add some of the fancy extras possible within the Apple news of format. It might be possible to download the code as you can with articles converted to the format by the WordPress plugin. No way to get the handcoded files back in the system.
Good looking content
You can and animations to the content, whether it be the text or the photos. It’s possible to make the photos, galleries, pull quote text and other elements animate on the page. There are nice little tricks such as parallax viewing, fade in and sliding in from the side. Adding motion to an article will instantly make it more interesting and fun to read. It makes it more interesting for the reader because it is different from your usual plaintext.
Comparison with Adobe
Adobe have a product allowing you to create news articles as webpages. It doesn’t have the app for viewing as does Apple News. The look of the articles is great with the parallax viewing and it’s easy to publish these articles. There are even iOS applications available to create these on your iOS devices. There doesn’t seem to be any restriction as to where in the world you can be in order to create Adobe Spark Pages.
I just spent 15 minutes creating a Spark page using the app on my iPhone. It was quickly and easily done and the finished result looks great. I was able to see in the preview of the page the parallax affect of pictures moving at a different speed behind text. Captions for photos were sliding in from the side and the whole finished webpage looked great. To do the same with Apple news publisher would have taken much longer and would have required me to roll up my sleeves and get in to coding. With the Adobe Spark Pages there is a limit on what you can make the pictures and text do. But the app gives you just enough and it’s very easy to use. It isn’t possible to put in line links into the text but you can have button links in between blocks of text.
There is a full set of Spark applications for making images with text, video and webpages.
Not impressed with Apple News
At some point in time Apple will make the Apple News publisher format available in other countries. I suppose I will allow my content to be published there when the time comes. In the meantime I can do little more than just wait. I did wonder if it would be possible for me to use my UK Apple ID to get access to Apple News. I opened up iCloud to see if it was available and there wasn’t The same set of facilities available.
Having to use code, Really?
It’s not particularly difficult as far as code goes. Even so, it’s not very good having to resort to hand coding using JSON to do anything interesting. I suppose the web application will improve over time. I certainly hope so! I would also expect to see an Mac application and an iOS dedicated to producing content for Apple News. Either that or I would expect to see an export to Apple News format from something like Pages or iBooks Author.