Apple is now a Flipboard competitor. When iOS 9 ships in the fall, it will include a new app called News, a newspaper, magazine, and blog aggregator that will feel very familiar to anyone who’s ever used Flipboard, Pulse, or one of the many other apps of this nature. The new app was unveiled by Apple’s vice president of Product Marketing, Susan Prescott, this afternoon at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Like many of its competitors, News is a personalized content aggregator that learns from the reader’s habits. The first time you use it, News will ask you to name some preferred topics and publishers. Apple has partnered with outlets like The New York Times, Conde Nast, ESPN, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, and a host of others. From that point on, the app will use machine learning to figure out what interests readers most.
The News app signals a fundamental shift in how Apple handles news content and its relationships with publishers on iOS. The company is reportedly moving away from the skeuomorphic (and much maligned) Newsstand app it launched in 2011, according to a report earlier today on Re/code. Instead, Apple will favor stand-alone apps from publishers, as well as content that is aggregated through its own News app.
News will support content from just about any source, presumably using some kind of built-in feed-reading engine. But as Prescott pointed out in her demo at WWDC 2015 this morning, the best-looking content will come from Apple’s list of publishing partners, whose articles will come packaged in a minimal, sometimes animated digital page layout.
What Apple unveiled this afternoon isn’t new in concept. Indeed, it borrows heavily from the underlying concept of Flipboard, which was launched five years ago by former Apple engineer Evan Doll and former TellMe CEO Mike McCue. News has less of a social element than Flipboard, which is powered in part by readers’ Twitter and Facebook feeds, but it remains a very similar, if more minimalist, concept nonetheless.
If anything, what will set News apart will be its native inclusion in iOS 9, which will be included on every new iPhone shipped in the fall, as well as millions of eligible older devices.