Frankly, I never paid much attention to Apple News. I took a quick look at it when it came out in iOS 9 back in 2015, but it didn’t really grab me. I was intrigued by elements of Apple News and decided to give it a try. I think Apple News is going to end up being my primary news source, but for reasons that have a lot more to do with my behavior than the new Apple News features.
For many years my primary news sources have been the Google News page and a collection of news feeds in my RSS reader. When Apple announced their Apple News service, including a 1-month free trial, I decided to give it a go (it also finally got me to upgrade my iMac to Mojave so I could have Apple News available on the desktop).
I find that Apple News doesn’t trigger my completionist tendencies the way RSS does. I have enough RSS feeds that I rarely get through them all. While intellectually I’m OK with this, the big unread count does seem to lodge in the back of my mind and bother me. Apple News doesn’t have an unread count. It has a huge amount of content, much of which doesn’t interest me, so leaving articles unread doesn’t bother me as much.
The other interesting benefit of Apple News is that it doesn’t get updated as often as Google News. I expect part of this is because it’s a curated news source rather than being algorithmically generated like Google. While “not updated as frequently” doesn’t seem like it would be a selling point for a news source, I’m finding it beneficial. Hitting refresh on the Google News page is kind of like pulling the lever on a slot machine. You don’t get new content every time, but you get new stuff often enough to keep doing it. Refreshing Apple News doesn’t result in new content nearly as often. The best way to get new stuff in Apple News is to close it and come back a couple of hours later. This way it pushes me more towards sitting down to read the news a few times per day rather than constantly checking if there’s anything new.
Some minor issues: I find it annoying that the back button is in somewhat different spots on iOS and macOS. The news app on the Mac crashes occasionally (though I never encountered a cycle of constant crashing that some people did soon after the Apple services event).
Overall, I’m surprisingly happy with the Apple News app. The Apple News service, on the other hand, is much more of a mixed bag for me. I didn’t get much out of the magazine content. I don’t subscribe to any magazines and there’s not much in the News catalog that interests me.
The only newspapers that the service offers are the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. The LA Times isn’t at the top of the list of newspapers I’m interested in. The WSJ does hold more interest for me. As people have noted, Apple News does not offer access to everything in the Journal, just a selection of articles. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Wall Street Journal articles I wanted to read were available with the Apple News subscription, but I did run into a few that require a subscription.
At this point, access to the Wall Street Journal would be the biggest selling point for Apple News for me, but I don’t know if I would get $10 per month of value out of that. If I decided to pay for news sources, I’d probably get more out of the New York Times or Washington Post.
For now, at least, I canceled my Apple News subscription before the trial period ended. I may come back if they add more newspapers in the future. It would also be an appealing addition to some sort of Apple services bundle, but as a standalone product, Apple News isn’t worth it for me.