May 10, 2016 Last Updated 11:20 am

Apple updates its Apple News ecosystem, adding handful of new features

Apple has released to its Apple News publishing partners some changes which should improve a few areas of the mobile news app. For those who use WordPress or manually input articles, the functionality remains primitive, at best. TNM stopped using the WordPress plug-in altogether because no articles were making it through Apple’s approval team. On TNM’s experimental website the WordPress plug-in does not appear to be delivering articles at all, despite the stories appearing in the Apple News article archive online.

The real issue with Apple News, and indeed all third party mobile news aggregation apps, is monetization and curation.

Now that Apple has announced the end to iAd, there is no ad network for Apple News and so less of a reason to participate – at least for smaller publishers dependent on ad networks. The perfect solution for small publishers would be a solution that would allow AdSense into the app – we know that will never happen.

The other problem remains the issue touched on a bit by the Facebook/Gizmodo article – that is, curation. Inside Apple News, whether a small to medium-sized publisher getting a decent level of readership is almost completely dependent on whether a story gets play from Apple. There have been days when the readership inside the Apple News app has been surprisingly good, even great. But those days are few and far between. But does it really matter without an monetization scheme.

Of the changes, the only one I’ve played with is the Cover feature, allowing the publisher to either let a picture be used based on recent articles, or to set a static image for constant use. This is certainly an appreciated feature because its old mechanism didn’t seem to work properly – this one does.

Here is the communication from Apple on the changes to Apple News:

Dear Publisher,

We’re pleased to announce another great update to the Apple News ecosystem. Apple News Format includes the following new features and enhancements:

  • Map and Place Components
  • Remote Image Support
  • Cover Image Management
  • Using datePublished to Post Older Content

Map and Place Components

Use the new Map component to display a geographical location on a map, complete with pins and selectable map views. This allows readers to view the location in standard, hybrid, or satellite map view. You can also define a specific area by using the Place component.<

Remote Image Support

Previously, images were required to be included in your Apple News Format article bundle. We’ve changed this so that images can now also be remotely referenced resources.<

Cover Image Management

You can now choose to have News automatically select a cover from the article thumbnails you deliver, or upload a custom image directly to News Publisher. Note that cover images must be at least 600 x 600 or 600 x 800 pixels large in size.<

Using datePublished to Post Older Content

Utilize the datePublished metadata property when posting older content to ensure that older articles don’t appear at the top of your channel.

Tips & Tricks for News Articles

Follow these guidelines and best practices to help ensure your articles are displayed as intended:

  • Avoiding Article De-duplication. Sometimes articles are accidentally delivered multiple times to the same section or channel, resulting in duplicates displaying in a reader’s feed. News automatically attempts to find and remove these erroneous duplicates, based on article title.To avoid de-duplication when updating existing articles, make sure to use the Update Article functionality. Using the Update Article endpoint will also help ensure analytics are properly tracked for each individual article.
  • Sponsored Articles. When setting the isSponsored metadata field to true, make sure to publish your article as a standalone article, outside of sections. You can do this by setting links.sections to [] (an empty array). By using iAd Workbench to book your article, you can display your article as a native ad without also surfacing it as an article tile in the channel feed.
  • Banner Advertisements Frequency. To increase the likelihood of an automatically inserted banner advertisement being inserted on every screen, set the frequency to 10. To achieve the likelihood of every other screen, set the frequency to 5. Use isPreview to test the results of automatically inserted banner advertisements in your article designs. Your channel must be linked to a paid developer account to advertise in Apple News.

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