Apple’s news subscription replaced my newsletter habit
Curated headlines in one place.
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I start my mornings before work the same way: pouring a cup of coffee, watching some YouTube vlogs, and sifting through the various newsletters I subscribe to. We love a routine. My interests vary from current events to which Kardashian is getting divorced. I won’t read everything that comes to my inbox, but I’ll open up the headlines that are striking me that day.
But reading everything I want to has been a challenge thanks to paywalls popping up on some of my most visited sites. I’m all for supporting journalism, but there’s only so much I can subscribe to. How am I supposed to keep up with celebrity gossip if I’m limited to four Cosmo articles a month?
Apple may have an answer. The tech giant released a subscription-based version of its News app that gives you access to hundreds of magazines and newspapers, including many of my most-read publications that enacted a paywall. I decided to try out Apple News+ to see if it would feed my need for news and storytelling.
What is Apple News+
Apple News+ is a news subscription service that gives you access to hundreds of magazines and newspapers, including TIME, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit, People, and Cosmopolitan. While not all these outlets have a paywall, it’s nice to get them in one place. You’ll also get digitized versions of the print magazines, meaning you can actually flip through one (and I can’t tell you the last time I’ve done that outside of reading a US Weekly on a plane).
In addition to giving access to various news outlets, you can also listen to select stories audiobook style, which is great for commuters who want to hear some long-form stories en route to work. The more you read on the app, the more personal recommendations you get for stories that pertain to your interests. Apple News+ also offers curated local news based on where you live.
With Apple News+ you can read offline, meaning you can save a few stories before you go on a plane or area with spotty service. You can also share the subscription with up to six family members, which is a pretty good deal if you all use it.
What it’s like using Apple News+
After scrolling through my Apple News+ for about a month now, I can confidently say that this is a discovery news app, meaning it curates stories you’d be interested in rather than just giving you the whole newsite. There’s more than enough content on the app to the point that I sometimes get overwhelmed. Thankfully the personalized “For You” section quickly registered my reading habits and provides me with a mix of long-form entertainment and political pieces.
Though I do get suspicious that I’m still missing out on some major stories. There really is so much content on this thing. I love hopping on each morning to see my recommendations and saving the stories of interest for later. While having access to full magazines is a nice perk, I still don’t take the time to flip through them and use the app like I’m perusing the interweb, solely looking through headlines that appeal to me.
I will say, though, some of the digital zines I looked through were a cool experience filled with moving images and interactive graphics you wouldn’t be able to get in the print form.
The layout of the app embodies Apple—crisp, clean, and simple. However, because of this cohesiveness, there’s no real distinction between the different publications other than their headers. The headline font and copy font are the same for every article (unless you’re flipping through the digital magazines), so you lose some of the identity of the branding for each publication.
The app is easy to navigate and if there are any brands you’re particularly interested in, you can subscribe to the publication to get push notifications about top headlines and stories you’ll likely want to read later.
What I don’t like about Apple News+
Where Apple News+ succeeds as a discovery app, it fails as a searchable one. Say I saw a story from Good Housekeeping but I hit a paywall. Since it’s a part of Apple News+ I can search the title of the story with Good Housekeeping, but the stories won’t always appear for some reason, which is frustrating. It’s like I need very specific keywords to access these stories. I wish there was the option to search by each publication rather than Apple News+ as a whole.
While the app was easy to navigate on larger screens, it was less intuitive on my phone, which is where I see myself using it the most. Oftentimes larger than necessary ads, pictures, or videos would pop up and require an excessive amount of scrolling to get through. Or because of the cohesive style of the app, a photo or ad would appear like it was a part of the story and disrupt my reading experience. I only had this issue on my phone screen, but it was enough for me to stop reading at some points.
Apple News+ does have a very large selection of publications with paywalls, but it obviously doesn’t have all of them. It would have been nice to have The New York Times or The Washington Post, which are two paywalls I encounter frequently while perusing the news online.
Is Apple News+ free?
Apple News+ costs $9.99 per month, but you will always have Apple News for free. You’ll still get personalized stories picked for you, local news, secure reading, and an audio rundown of the biggest headlines. However, you won’t get access to the newspapers and magazines that typically require a paywall, as well as the other upgrades Apple News+ offers.
If you’re into basic news and headlines, Apple News alone should suffice. But those who were planning on subscribing to several paywalls that are included in Apple News+ and already use the app consistently, it’s completely worth it.
Is Apple News+ biased?
I wouldn’t say the app itself is biased, but because it caters to your interests, you’re definitely less likely to see or click on sources that don’t fit with your opinions, which is inherently biased. For example, the Top Stories on my page come from a decently well-rounded assortment of news sites, including Wall Street Journal, CNN, CNBC, The Hill, and Bloomberg. Each source has a different story, though it’s up to me to choose which source I’d like to read from.
Though most of the included publications on Apple News+ tend to be left-leaning, you can also opt to follow certain new sites, which makes them more likely to appear in your feed. You can’t block any news sites, either, so you’ll still see a story pop up from a news site you despise.
How to cancel Apple News+
To cancel Apple News+, you don’t have to jump through too many hoops. Simply open “Settings'' on your iPhone, Macbook, or iPad, tap “View Apple ID,” and enter your password. From there you can find “Subscriptions,” find the Apple News app subscriptions, and select “Cancel Subscription.” You can still use the free Apple News portion of the app and can reactivate the subscription at any time.
Is Apple News+ worth it?
All in all, Apple News+ is a great addition to your news discovery without bundling up on subscriptions to various news outlets. I like how I could see top stories from a variety of news outlets and then cherry-pick what I was actually interested in reading. I also really loved the “For You” page and the variety it provided me, from stories on canceling student debt to Hailey Bieber on getting married young. There’s really an endless amount of content at your fingertips.
I could see this app being more helpful for commuters who want the news at their fingertips during a long train ride—rather than someone who is working from home and sitting on the computer with access to many news sites.
While I still love my newsletters, I’m happy to add Apple News+ into my rotation to discover new stories each day.