July 9, 2015 Last Updated 6:05 pm

Apple releases first public beta of iOS 9 with the new News app; Newsstand now merely a folder

Publishers with early access to Apple’s new News Format tools are able to create beautiful article layouts and channel designs inside the Flipboard-like content aggregation app

The public beta of iOS 9 is now available, though I cannot recommend downloading it unless you are a developer and have a device dedicated specifically for app development – and preferably a newer device with more computing power.

But curiosity got the best of me because iOS 9 contains the new News app.

AppleNews-ForYouIt is a bit odd that Apple would go ahead and include News with beta 3 of iOS 9 because it is not really ready, the missing piece being new Apple News Format, not available for all publishers to use in order to customize their channels and content.

“The new Apple News Format lets you create stunning content for News,” the support page for News states. “You can author once and News will optimize your content for all iOS devices, so your readers will have a great experience no matter which device they use. It’s easy to connect to existing content management systems, and you get access to a rich suite of tools to measure user engagement with your content.”

It is likely that some of Apple’s early partners have access to the necessary tools to design their channels: these would be The Atlantic, CNN, ESPN, The New York Times, and Slate – the channels that are automatically added to your News app when first opened.

There is another channel available at first open, as well: Apple News Selections. This is a curated collection of stories.

The first story in this channel is actually about the Apple News Format:

“In this channel, we showcase work from a variety of publishers who are among the first to adopt Apple News Format,” says the channel at open. “Apple News Format allows publishers to craft beautiful editorial layouts and custom typography – and readers to enjoy this same rich experience no matter what iOS device they’re using,” the opening copy states.

Wired-ANThen below this are four stories from the NYT, CNN and two from Wired, obviously another of the publishers will access to the prerelease version of Apple News Format. Below that were six other stories that Apple thought would be related under a banner reading Apple News iApplications – stories from the NYT, 9to5Mac, i4u.com. chorus.fm and Talking New Media (who they hell are they?)

My channel and its stories look like hell, but that’s understandable as I have not had access to the Apple News Format yet.

But those that have had access can sometimes look stunningly beautiful, while others are so-so. I’d point to Wired’s channel: their stories look great (while those that don’t won’t be mentioned because, after all, it’s early days still).

The News app has five navigation tabs along the bottom: For You, a curated space; Favorites, which the reader populates; Explore, where you can select topics; Search, where you can find publishing channels by name; and Saved, articles saved by users.

It is interesting to note that the Explore area has far more categories and subcategories than the Newsstand ever did.

And what about Newsstand? It’s still there – and as predicted, its just a folder now with standard icons. But here is the twist: you can now treat those Newsstand apps like any other app, tap and hold and you can drag it out of the Newsstand folder.

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