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Apple News+ is off to a shaky start, new reports show

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Apple News+ – the US hardware giant Apple’s rather hard pivot toward services announced in March, made in the face of declining or stalled device sales worldwide – has been but a component in the company’s overall emerging new strategy.

But unlike many other new services Apple announced at the time – such as its credit card, Apple Card, coming at some later date – Apple News+ was offering magazine and newspaper subscriptions right out of the gate, and it seemed at the time that the prospect was equally intriguing and horrifying to publishers.

Back in March, Reuters said that Apple was seeking to leverage more than a billion of its physical devices in use in order to offer a direct-to-consumer streaming video, along with a news subscription service.

This happened all of a month ago. So how is Apple News+ doing today – after some major publishers, like the Wall Street Journal embraced it – while other big players, like the New York Times, declined to tie their digital fortune to the tech giant?

“Apple’s focus is more on making money from aggregating content than on providing consistent experiences for either users or publishers” –  Jeremy Horowitz at Venturebeat said.

Digiday, a trade magazine for online media, is now reporting that some of the UI (user interface) problems encountered by Apple News+ seem to boil down to poor scaling to different display sizes – a problem that was supposed to be resolved some years ago with new iterations of web technologies, aware of mobile devices and their multitude of desktop and mobile form-factors.

To those voicing any technical concerns about the process, Apple has given the option of submitting their issues via email – rather than a dedicated issue-tracking service, as one might expect from a major digital platform of any kind these days. However – to a “select group of publishers” Apple has given access to a private Slack channel. “They’re basically playing favorites. It always seems to be good for the big guys, but not for the rest of us,” said one source, initially unaware of the existence of this crucial channel to directly communicate their concerns to Apple.

And forget about enjoying content equally cross-platform with Apple News+ offerings: the service works as advertised if you use an iPhone, iPad, or a Mac computer. But everybody else – including the millions, if not billions of Android and Windows users – are out of luck, as attempting to read a New Yorker of a WSJ article while in a browser on these platforms, “or in Twitter or some other service” – provides for “no way to log in and view the entire thing right there because you don’t actually have a separate account with those publications,” Dan Seifert at the Verge is reporting.

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