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.