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Apple News+! Was "Made By Someone Who Doesn’t Read"

Digital magazines are not a new concept.

They have been around since the first tech bubble (if not longer). Furthermore, Apple’s recently acquired subsidiary Texture has a decade of experience in running a digital magazine platform (also, the Apple News app itself is four years old).

Alas, you wouldn’t be able to tell that based on the functionality of Apple News+!.

An early review of Apple News+! reveals that there is very little good to say about the service; the reviewer canceled in frustration after only a few, and reported that the app lacks many basic features such as bookmarks, subscription, and storage management. There was also no way to search by keyword and no curation.

The conclusion is damning:

Honestly, after going through this, I came to a conclusion. Apple News+ was either designed by someone who sits around all day reading every magazine they can from cover to cover (for a living), or, they have a job as a designer or product manager at Apple, and never read the news. I’m guessing the latter. Maybe they spend their time jumping through meetings, rather than catching up on any news throughout the day, and they certainly don’t read on public transport during their commute. The fact that you can’t bookmark a page of a long form article that would take someone reading at 700wpm over 10 minutes to read is ludicrous. It’s a system made by someone who either has all the time in the world to read or never reads.

I heard about this from Mike Cane, who said he was not surprised by this story.  I was and wasn’t surprised; while we’ve seen similar stupid mistakes from Apple, I didn’t think they’d make this same mistake twice.

What this reminds me of was the launch of Apple Music. That service launched after Apple acquired the startup Beats, and like Apple News+!,  none of the developers of Apple Music were familiar with music.

That conclusion was made clear when early users reported that Apple Music had a default setting where it replaced all copies of a user’s music (including the uploaded music) with the officially released version of a song. Some users lost collections dating back decades because no one at Apple Music had considered the possibility that a user might have multiple non-interchangeable copies of the same song (for example, a live performance, a studio release, a fan edit, and an official re-release).

It was clear that no one involved with building Apple Music was a music fan, and now it’s clear that no one involved in building Apple News+! reads digital magazines. (Another obvious conclusion is that Apple doesn’t beleive in user testing products before release.)

It almost makes you wonder why Apple bothered to buy Texture, doesn’t it?

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Tom S April 26, 2019 um 5:35 pm

As a former Texture subscriber and current New+ subscriber, I cannot agree with this assessment. I use News app at least ten times as much as I ever used Texture. Texture’s feed, consisting exclusively of magazine articles, was useless to me. It was more distraction than informing.

News is more customizable, extensible, and having both news feeds and magazines in one app makes it more convenient and efficient than having separate apps and subscriptions. I subscribe to Washington Post and by supplying those credentials it shows up in my feed as well; I almost never use the Washington Post app any more. The magazine selection is somewhat better and I’ll be able to cancel a couple of subscriptions that were not available in Texture and that again required a separate app and subscription to access. My RSS reader is all but empty now as much of what I actually read there (including your blog btw) can be Followed in News (for free).

It works very well for me compared to what I was doing before.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Anthony July 10, 2019 um 3:52 pm

As a former Texture user, I can’t believe how Apple gutted the Texture app. I didn’t make it a week with the Apple News+ trial. Without the ability to use bookmarks are save articles that interest you and search for text, why bother with a "reading" app. Useless. Readly is a much better service and the app is light years ahead of Apple News+, and even Texture before Apple gutted it. Apple News+ does have more mainstream magazines than Readly, but Readly has a ton of magazines and a fair amount of mainstream magazines.

Nate Hoffelder July 16, 2019 um 8:19 am

I know, right?

Why did Apple buy Texture if they’re not going to use the expertise?

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