Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Releases Its Proprietary Apple News Format

Emily Jane Fox of Vanity Fair got the scoop:

Apple News’s 40 million users are about to have a lot more articles to read. The iPhone maker announced Tuesday the launch of a new Web-based editing tool that will open its native iOS news platform to independent publishers of all sizes. […]

The way Apple features new artists and up-and-comers in its other media corners is similar to what it will do with smaller publishers in News — identifying high-quality content from lesser-known outlets and highlighting it for app users.

The Apple News Format was previously only available to large publishers including Vanity Fair, Wired, the Economist, and others. Stories published in the format are characterized by their much richer layout options, similar to their printed siblings.

Creating an Apple News Format (hereafter, ANF) version of a site’s feed is not as straightforward as I had anticipated. Adding an RSS feed is as simple as plopping the link into News Publisher on icloud.com, filling in some contact information, and adding a logo. But ANF requires an API key which can be obtained from Apple1 and a complete conversion of a site’s feed from RSS to ANF, followed by manual approval. And that’s all before the first article will appear in Apple News. After that, it’s a matter of publishing in a way that pushes out to Apple’s servers for conversion to ANF while maintaining compatibility with your site’s existing CMS.

Why would anyone go through this? Well, the Apple News app doesn’t provide RSS analytics, and there are some additional monetization options exclusive to ANF. Additionally, ANF supports membership roles for writers and editors.

I haven’t converted PE to the Apple News Format yet, nor am I sure I will for a while. This site is entirely textual, and served well enough by RSS. You can read the site from the command line, for all I care, and you’ll lose virtually nothing that makes it Pixel Envy. But there’s a part of me that also wants to know how many people are reading via Apple News. I can live without that because I’m a hobbyist writer, but I suspect anyone who makes a living from this racket will feel compelled to upgrade. And, for lots of sites, that alone might well be worth it.

Update: Apple News remains inexplicably unavailable in most of the world. Officially, it’s available only in the United States, Australia, and the U.K.


  1. Happily, WordPress users can download a plugin that largely automates this. ↩︎