April 28, 2017 Last Updated 9:20 am

Apple’s 4 year App Store disaster; Google Play Newsstand updated adding push notifications

In 2013, the Apple App Store suffered an outage related to the Newsstand, the beginning of the end of Apple’s interest in working with their digital publishing partners

The Apple App Store has been a constant source of frustration for its publishing partners, and there is no sign that Apple has any plans to fix the situation.

Going back at least as far as the end of 2013, Apple’s App Store team stopped maintaining the subcategories of the Newsstand. It started with a complete outage of the subcategories that was eventually fixed in December of 2013 (see TNM report here).

Here is what I wrote at that time:

Developers resorted to commenting on the App Store Facebook page, voicing their frustration with Apple’s lack of action, and their failure to publicly acknowledge the issue. “You are affecting thousands of people’s ability to make a living,” wrote one Facebook commenter.

Calls to the Apple press team, including their developer and App Store press person, went unanswered.

More and more, publishers are finding Apple to be an untrustworthy partner in digital publishing. The App Store, and the Newsstand in particular, continues to be filled with bogus apps from quick-buck developers. All attempts to clean up the mess by identifying scams goes unresolved, and a number of funded digital media start-ups have blamed the Apple App Store as the reason their efforts did not succeed.

One digital publishing platform executive told me during an interview, though he didn’t want to be quoted, that he and his colleagues knew Apple had given up on the Newsstand as early as 2012, that the company no longer appeared enthusiastic about the prospects for the category. It simply didn’t generate enough revenue to move the needle.

When Apple killed off the Newsstand it failed to let publishers know what to expect until just days before its demise. In its place Apple created the Magazines & Newspapers category, but again failed to address the real problem of the subcategories, the place reader go to find periodicals of their interest.

As you can see above, the same problems persist: the top carousel on all the subcategories are missing publications, and the New section at the top is not organized by “new” apps at all, but simply an alphabetical listing of apps, allowing smart developers to name their apps “AAA” or some such way in order to be listed among the first apps in the section.

By the end of this year it will be four full years of a broken Apple App Store, so TNM once again reached out (on Wednesday) to Apple’s press team for a comment. There has no response to date.

Meanwhile, Google has updated its Google Play Newsstand app for iOS devices, something that the company does on a regular basis.

This update brings the app up to version 4.4. and introduces a number of new features.

What’s New in Version 4.4

  • Support for push notifications
  • Improved article layouts with new animations and effects
  • Pinned videos so you can scroll through articles while you watch
  • Shortcut that lets you easily return to the last article you were reading
  • Magazines can be sorted by title or by most recent edition
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements

To use the Google Play Newsstand a publisher needs to sign into Google Newsstand Producer and create editions. Beware that Google prefers that you use their Chrome browser to do all the work.

Once you have signed in, you can create your edition by adding an RSS feed, writing a description, and other customization elements familiar to anyone who has created an app or signed up for Apple News.

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