I don’t use Apple News very often. I much prefer reading blogs in Reeder and Micro.blog, with a daily check on the other news sites I pay for. But last night I noticed a headline in the iOS today screen and tapped over to a few stories in Apple News.
Scrolling down in the “For You” tab about politics I was surprised by a couple news stories about a plan by Democrats to “silence non-liberal media” (People’s Pundit Daily), and another on the Trump-Russia “collusion fantasy” (The Daily Caller). These were right-wing opinion pieces sprinkled with conspiracy theories, yet placed next to reputable news organizations like The New York Times, CBS News, and Politico.
I thought Apple News was highly curated and better than this. Personal essays are fine in Apple News, because that’s part of blogging, but they shouldn’t be suggested to a mainstream audience looking for real news.
When I first wrote about Accelerated Mobile Pages, there wasn’t a true implementation. Now we see how Google is rolling this out, and it has problems. John Gruber uses Ars Technica as an example:
On desktop browsers, these URLs do get redirected to Ars’s website. But on mobile they don’t. Share from one mobile device to another and nobody ever leaves google.com. Why would any website turn their entire mobile audience — a majority share of their total audience, for many sites today — over to Google?
I’d prefer if Google added AMP support directly to Chrome. While it would be a much more limited rollout, it would feel more natural, with fewer drawbacks for publishers.
Competing news platform Apple News isn’t problem-free either. The
apple.news:// shared links also add a redirect, with inconsistent behavior since not all platforms and countries even support Apple News. Apple News is an RSS reader that’s designed like a closed platform.
I want the web to be faster. Breaking links should not be part of the solution.
I was looking for a different old post in my archives, and stumbled on this one: “I hope iAd fails”, which I wrote 5 years ago this month. One of my points was that we had a healthy marketplace in the App Store for normal people to actually pay for apps:
“Do we really want to give that marketplace up? Because once it’s gone, and iAds are the norm, it will be an uphill battle to get anyone to pay for anything.”
Fast-forward 5 years to today, and well, we’re on that hill right now. Except there’s a landslide and I don’t know who’s going to get buried.
On the Upgrade podcast, Jason Snell and Myke Hurley talked about whether iOS 9’s Apple News was relevant: what problems is it solving, if any, and — because it will feature unblockable ads powered by iAd — how does it fit into the larger issue of blocking web ads and closed platforms? The discussion starts about an hour in.
(If you’ve used Apple News already, you may not have even seen any ads yet. But Apple’s page on Apple News Format makes it clear that they will be encouraging iAd for publishers: “Monetization is made simple with iAd”.)
I stand by the opinion that iAd is a mistaken strategy. Apple, if you’re serious about this fight with Google, go all-in on the fight and abandon iAd. It seems hypocritical to attack web ads while rolling out your own news platform with ads that can’t be blocked.