Apple has just revealed its new Apple News Plus service, which adds magazines to the Apple News app. The emphasis is on curation, high quality, and trust, all of which Apple considers essential for a news and magazine consumption app. There will be over 300 magazines, such as The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Men’s Health, and Vogue, and Apple News Plus will be “the only place” where you’ll be able to get all of them at once.
The Wall Street Journal will be the big new name that Apple adds to Apple News Plus from the newspaper business. An internal memo from Dow Jones, obtained by The Verge, notes that the WSJ will provide only “a specially curated collection of general interest news from The Wall Street Journal” to Apple News Plus subscribers. That leaves out the business reporting and analysis that’s at the core of the full subscription for the financial daily. It’s not entirely how full the other subscriptions bundled into the Apple News Plus service will be, whether limited like this or comprehensive, covering the entire magazine or paper issue.
This premium tier of Apple News is designed, in the same vein as subscription services like Netflix and Spotify, to aggregate paid content from a multiplicity of sources while charging the user a single monthly fee.
It would cost you more than $8,000 per year if you were to subscribe to all of the publications in Apple News Plus individually, Apple says, but the News Plus price will be $9.99 per month. Family sharing of the Apple News Plus subscription will be allowed, with each user having their own individual favorites and customizations. The US and Canada are the first two countries to get Apple News Plus, which rolls out today via an update to iOS and Mac devices. The first month will be free. Australia and the UK will follow in the fall of this year, with the rest of Europe to come later.
Stressing its habitual emphasis on privacy, Apple promises that it won’t know what you read in Apple News Plus, and it won’t allow advertisers to track you. “What you read in Apple News will not follow you across the web,” says the company. That’s the assurance that Apple already offers to existing users of Apple News, which the company boasts is now the world’s biggest news app, with more than 5 billion articles read each month. More people probably get their news from Facebook and Google, but since neither is specifically a news app, Apple’s claim would seem to make sense, bolstered as it is by the hundreds of millions of iOS devices out in the world.
The demonstration of magazines in Apple News Plus during Apple’s event showed off moving-image covers and a lot of tailored, bespoke content for iPads and iPhones. Apple’s stated ambition is to create the best magazine-reading experience on a mobile device, which echoes the original sales pitch that Steve Jobs presented when launching the first iPad way back in 2010. Apple is coming back to the business of revolutionizing and digitizing the magazine, but the reason it failed to achieve that in the first instance was the cost and difficulty of producing iPad-tailored content for every issue. Perhaps with the new subscription structure, Apple might be able to offer a better economic model for its long-standing quest to supplant magazines with the iPad.