Fixing Apple News: Make it a system-level service in iOS 10

iOS 9.3 brought greater personalization and curation to Apple News, but I'm hoping iOS 10 brings something more—system-wide integration. That's because I read a ton of news. Technology. Politics. Entertainment. Culture. Science. You name it, I've read it on my iPhone or iPad. But not in the same place. Instead of a single source for everything interesting, I have a bunch of little places scattered about the system, some that overlap and some that don't, but none that give me everything that I want.

News debuted just last year in iOS 9. It's an attempt to solve a really hard problem—bringing magazines, newspapers, and independent publications fully into the digital age in a way that's accessible and sustainable. The sustainable part is still a huge question mark for everyone, but the accessible part feels really close. It feels like something Apple could iterate on and make simple and system-wide.

Right now, it's the opposite of that. There's the "minus one" page to the left of the Home screen. That's the Siri + Search page where, at the bottom, I get a list of news. I have no idea what criteria is used to populate the list, but it certainly seems to have absolutely no connection to "For You", the personalized front page of the Apple News app.

"For You" is populated based on the choice of publications and topics I made when I set Apple News up, and recommendations based on what I've tapped on since. It makes no effort, though, to integrate the articles I've saved to Reading List, nor the ones pulled for me from my social network Shared Links.

I understand why: All these features were built by separate teams with little or no knowledge of each other's projects. Still, I'm left with experiences that are isolated, all pieces of the same puzzle—my picks, my recommendations, my shares, my... whatever the heck "minus one" is pulling in—that aren't being put together.

Instead, imagine a system-level service that provides a unified stream of news, informed by the initial setup of the News app, improved by what you tap on and like, enhanced by Apple's algorithms and editors, and augmented by what you've saved to read later and by what your friends have shared on your social networks.

Just like Photos is now core to the experience, so too could be news: Integrated together and synced across all Apple devices.

That way, the results on the Siri + Search page would be consistent with the For You page in News, and the Reading List in Safari. There could even be a toggle to show just recommended, saved, or shared if you want to see exactly what came from where.

The same content could be put it in News and Reading List for Mac, just the videos could be pulled and queues in News for Apple TV, and alerts on anything that ranks as important could be sent via notification to Apple Watch.

That's what I'm hoping iOS 10 — and tvOS 10 and watchOS 3 — brings us: News nirvana.

Update: Originally published November 20, 2015. Updated May 3, 2016.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Quick question:
    In the News app I just noticed ads in between the articles that are listed. I don't remember this from earlier in the week. Is this something new or did I just notice it? Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm honestly impressed with the News app. It's a great aggregate of news I want to read. I've been reading MUCH more in the News app than facebook or the like since came out.
    I understand why you would want everything in all places, but the front page of the News app is better than the others, IMO.
    I would certainly like to see my unread "Reading List" pages mixed in with the daily news, and with its own tab. I just NEVER go to that page in the Safari UI. They could be labeled with a little grey triangle in the corner with the black Glasses icon inside the triangle.
    I would also like to see a Social feature built into News. I would like to see what my friends & family have read, and see their favorite sources. I assume this would have to search by iTunes/iCloud ID. Add also Twitter & facebook users, if they so choose to make such info public. I would be interested to see what Rene & the gang are reading, but without them having to share each and every article manually, and me happen to be on Twitter at the right time to see the post, then I click the link and it takes me to the page in Safari instead of News. It would be a database based on logging in with twitter handles, not something that goes on twitter.
    I would also like to see READER VIEW in the News app. The variation in text size from article to article is very annoying. ... if only I could make a living coming up with Wish Lists for all the software and hardware in my life, and not yet in my life!
  • Found the guy who hasn't used Android forever... Sent from the iMore App
  • I've been using RSS for reading aggregated News since the early days of NetNewsWire and I continue to use Reeder (fed from Feedly) on my Mac, my iPad and to a lesser extent, my iPhone. I'd be happy to use News if it had a Mac OS client but the fact that it only runs on iOS and Apple has said nothing about releasing a Mac OS client not only angers me, it stops me from using it. I'm a Mac user first and my Mac remains the hub of my digital life. Any cloud based app I use needs to be controllable and useable from the Mac.
  • But wouldn't this involve Apple collecting information about you from diverse sources in order to provide a better tailored service? Hey! They could use that information to place a discerning selection of ads for products that might be of interest to you. Wouldn't that be great?
  • You realize that out of the 1,000,000+ apps in the app store, there are literally dozens that do exactly what you're describing?
  • Such as...?
  • Flipboard, for one.Pulse, for another.
  • I would like a way to eliminate or delete some. I selected NFL Football, but get stuff on Soccer and Australia Rugby. I know they are both football too. I would like the ability to have "like this, not this opinion". Something to eliminate those feeds, and I would like a top & bottom. I hate the Twitter like navigation. Give me the option to organize from old to new, new to old, interest/subject, or alphabet, numbers. Something Please! Sent from the iMore App
  • You can already mute channels with a long touch.
  • I agree with Rene: make a one-stop shop for News and curate the information like done in Apple Music (though this could be improved in iOS 10 too). However, my question is how would Apple know which source is actual "news" and what's just an article that you wanted to save later for reading (say, about cats or dogs)? Would it pull that *exact* article and use it to curate other articles about cats/dogs or would it pull from the actual site (i.e. the article was published on CNN/NY Times, etc.) Sent from the iMore App
  • Try Facebook Paper. Sent from the iMore App
  • Not available in most parts of the world. Sent from the iMore App
  • Flipboard... All I need
  • Yep Sent from the iMore App
  • I love Apple News give me everything I need.
  • A feature that I would love to have would be keyword or topic filtering. I'm a Mac/ iPhone user, so articles about android or Windows do not interest me. Another pet peeve of mine is the mixing of important news with trivial news. For example - congress votes to increase income taxes = important . Obama's cat is named whiskers = not important .
  • It's like you're reading my mind!
  • I agree completely with this, i'd also love to be able to hide read news stories.
  • I'd love for the news app to update the content and headlines in the background so that when I open the app it doesn't spend the first 20 seconds displaying old content.
  • I have a question. When the news app was first announced as a new feature of iOS 9, it was stated that the app wouldn't be available in Canada initially. Kind of annoying, but as a Canadian I've come to expect that with most things that Apple releases ( which is by no means Apple's fault). I have the first iPad Air, an iPad Mini 4, and iPhone 6. These are all running iOS 9.2. After upgrading my iPhone and iPad Air to iOS 9 last year however, I noticed that my iPad Air got the news app, but my phone didn't and my Mini 4 which I bought last September also doesn't. First, if it's not available in Canada why do I have it at all? And second, why is it not on each device?
  • I'd rather just have the option to get rid of the Siri Suggestions screen altogether. Right now it's just a duplicate of the Spotlight screen for me, since I've disabled all the "features" I don't really want shown there. I doubt having a more personalized newsfeed on that page will convince me otherwise, because I've stopped using the completely.
  • No need to fix it. Just get rid of it as well as all the other crap Apple leaves on the iPhone. If a customer wants it then let them download the apps.
  • I agree. There's no fix for a news app that seems determined to deliver ads to me. This is the crappiest app on my phone. It can't be hidden fast enough.
  • All I want is the back arrow to always be visible like it is on Flipboard. I know it should be a minor annoyance, but it's a major annoyance for me. I guess I've used Flipboard too long.
  • I stopped using Apple's news app. Content takes forever to download. That is my biggest complaint. I'm unaware of any other issues because I never use it.