November 12, 2015 Last Updated 8:22 am

Facebook launches Notify app for the iPhone, testing the tolerance level of readers for notifications

Morning Brief: NYT adds the ability to log into its iOS apps using Facebook or Google accounts; Apple releases updates for its iWork programs for both Mac and iOS

The social network Facebook released its anticipated news app Notify yesterday afternoon, one built on the premise that iPhone users want plenty of notifications. Officially called Notify by Facebook – Notifications that matter, the app will test the limits of how much a person wants to stay connected.

Facebook-Notify-iPhone“Notifications are becoming one of the primary ways people first learn about things wherever they are. Today we are introducing Notify, a new app from Facebook that delivers timely notifications about the things that matter to you, from the sources you love, all in one place,” said Julian Gutman, Product Manager at Facebook.

Facebook had no problem lining up media partners for the app. When first installed and opened, the user must select at least three “stations” that will provide the content for the app. There are categories such as News, Local, Sports, Business, Politics, Entertainment and more, with three content providers seen up front and more available.

Media companies such as The New York Times, Vox Media, Fox News, CNN are easily found and added.

The app may be designed to appeal to publishers more that actual users, a peace offering, if you will. But the app itself will succeed only if Facebook users migrate to it, something that seems highly unlikely.

Recently Facebook added its Instant Articles to its main Facebook app, a development that seemed to work best for publishers. Here, once again. publishers are asked to surrender their content on the hopes that they will be paid, while the app developer – in this case Facebook – only has to develop the app. There is no end to this kind of thing, with the only thing unique about this one is that it bares the Facebook name.

“If only there were a way for publishers to reach their readers directly, right?!” The Verge says rather sarcastically in its review of the app. “Except that app development and maintenance is difficult and costly, and also the average number of apps a person downloads each month is zero. And so for salvation publishers now look once again to … Facebook, which built them an iOS app that tells them everything they want to hear except perhaps how they’re going to get people to use it.”

That these major media companies would have jumped on board the Notify train so quickly after the Instant Articles experiment feels rushed and premature to me. The first experiment has not even led to good results, if yesterday’s WSJ article is accurate.

According to the story authored by Jack Marshall, publishers are not getting the result they want, and are a bit annoyed by Facebook’s restrictions, not allow animated or interactive ads.

“You have to analyze many factors to determine the monetization potential,” said Jed Hartman, chief revenue officer at The Washington Post. “You have fewer impressions per page view than we presently do, so you have to balance that, and you don’t have all the animation we can sell on our own site.”

The New York Times updated its iPhone and iPad apps yesterday, adding the ability to log into the app using Facebook and Google.

The newspaper has been working with both digital companies lately on projects: Facebook, on both Instant Articles and now Notify; and Google, with its Google Cardboard VR project. This may be the motivation behind this… or, both entities have agreed to share info to the NYT.

The apps also now utilize 3D Touch, assuming the owner has an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus

What’s New in Version 5.5

  • You can now log in using your Facebook or Google account. Logged in users have access to free features like saving articles and signing up for newsletters.
  • Have an iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus? Now you can access Top Stories, Most Popular, Saved for Later and Search directly from your home screen by using 3D touch on our app icon.
  • It’s now possible to search for text within an article. Just tap the share icon, then the Find in Article option.

AllYou-iPhone6-380Among other updates is one for ALL YOU Magazine from Time Inc.

The update says that it (finally) makes the app iOS 9 compliant, but that is not what is so odd. What’s odd is that Time Inc. has <strong>already announced that it is shuttering the title with the December issue, yet the app descriptions fails to mention this fact.

Opening the app, which does now already contain the December issue, there is no mention of the magazine being closed either.

Many of Time Inc.’s apps for their digital editions have not been updated in a long time, so it is odd that of all the magazine apps it might choose to update it was the app for the magazine that is going away. Maybe no one told the development team?

Another update is for The Washington Post Classic for iPad. The app now somewhat competes against the newer app built when Jeff Bezos bought the magazine and was first launched into the Amazon app store before appearing in Apple’s App Store.

One might have thought they would give up on this app, which contains both a web-like portion, as well as the ability to download the print newspapers in replica form. The app has just been updated, however, and there will be a separate report on the update.

Finally, Apple released updates for its iWork apps for both Mac and iOS. These included, of course, Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

The updates fix a bug where some Microsoft files would not open, and since many Mac and iOS device owners now no longer use Microsoft Office, but other still do, this is probably a huge issue.

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