June 13, 2016 Last Updated 12:08 pm

Apple unveils redesign for Apple News during the WWDC keynote, adds subscriptions

The redesign includes more curated areas and sections, plus push notifications, but few details revealed as to how subscriptions will work for digital publishers

The Newsstand may be dead, but Apple still wants a share of publisher revenue so today the company unveiled their redesign for Apple News which will now allow for subscriptions during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

The company gave few details as to how this will work, and if past behavior is any guidance, publishers will likely not be informed as to how to add subscriptions to their Apple News channels until a week or so before the feature goes live.


The WWDC keynote opened up with Apple CEO Tim Cook requesting a minute of silence for the victims of this weekend’s terrorist attack in Orlando.

What followed was a review of changes to come in Apple’s four different operating systems: watchOS, tvOS, OS X (which will be called macOS going forward) and iOS.

At times cringeworthy, the presentations had a feeling of artificiality, with a few times presenters accidentally revealing how fake the live devices searches can be.

For digital publishers the only real news came when Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, very briefly showed off a redesign for Apple News.

“Apple News finally appears to have a design not created by monkeys on crack,” Walt Mossberg said in The Verge’s live blog for the keynote.


The company claims that there are 60 million users of the Apple News app, though as the app is preloaded into iOS devices that number is fairly meaningless. The real issue remains monetization.

With the death of iAd, and Apple’s reluctance to allow publishers to integrate ad networks into their channels, there is very few options for independent publishers to make Apple News payoff for them. For the large publishers, especially those using paywalls online, there has doubtlessly been calls for the ability to sell subscriptions inside Apple News. As Apple wouldn’t get a cut from ads coming in from outside Apple’s ecosystem, the solution they found acceptable was paid subscriptions.

I’m, of course, very skeptical that this will work for many publishers. The way Apple is developing Apple News, aggregating and curating the content, there is very little brand building potential, so it would be hard to get a reader to pony up for a subscription. Besides, how will these be price and sold, like the Newsstand where Apple constantly badgers readers to cancel?

Who knows? Apple hasn’t let publishers inside Apple News know anything more than those who saw the keynote via the live stream knows… which is very little. Maybe now that the WWDC keynote is over Apple News publishers will get an email with more details.

Comments are closed.