Apple News+ in iOS 14 Opens Article Web Links in Apple News, Intercepting Traffic From Websites

Apple News in iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur has a toggle that's designed to open web links from ‌Apple News‌+ publishers directly in ‌Apple News‌, which has the effect of directing users who tap to read a news story in Safari to the ‌Apple News‌ app instead of to the publisher's website.

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Enabled by default in the Settings app, the option to open web links in ‌Apple News‌ is an ‌Apple News‌+ "feature," so an ‌Apple News‌+ subscription is required to have the ‌Apple News‌ app open when a web link is tapped.

The option to open links in ‌Apple News‌ instead of on the web was highlighted by Tony Haile, who points out that Apple is intercepting traffic from websites and directing it to the ‌Apple News‌ app instead, cannibalizing a publisher's audience and drawing more users to ‌Apple News‌+. Haile suggests that Apple can accelerate News+ growth by intercepting publisher traffic, with the ultimate aim of attracting more publishers to the platform with a growing subscription base.

Publishers are not likely to be appreciative of this feature, even limited to ‌Apple News‌+ subscribers, because the feature is enabled by default in the ‌iOS 14‌ and ‌macOS Big Sur‌ updates. Apple has struggled to gain new subscribers to ‌Apple News‌+, while also dealing with publishers who are not happy with the service because of its low subscription rates.

There have been multiple reports suggesting publishers are unimpressed with the revenue generated from ‌Apple News‌+, which has fallen below Apple's initial promises. ‌Apple News‌+ attracted multiple magazine publishers from launch thanks to Apple's acquisition of magazine service Texture, but it has struggled to entice news publishers.

The New York Times and The Washington Post have refused to participate in ‌Apple News‌+, as have many other news sites. The New York Times recently ended its Apple News partnership entirely and pulled all articles from the service, stating that ‌Apple News‌ does not "align with its strategy of building direct relationships with paying readers."

The redirecting feature appears to be limited to publishers who participate in ‌Apple News‌+, so this change in ‌iOS 14‌ and ‌macOS Big Sur‌ could perhaps spur additional publishers to end their relationships with ‌Apple News‌. ‌Apple News‌+ readers on ‌iOS 14‌ can open the News section of the Settings app to disable "Open Web Links in News" while ‌macOS Big Sur‌ users can get to the toggle by opening the News app and then going to the settings section.

Many ‌Apple News‌+ users have been asking for a way to open up web links in ‌Apple News‌+ to avoid paywalls on the web, so ‌Apple News‌+ subscribers that pay for the service are likely to be appreciative of the new feature.

Top Rated Comments

Marbles1 Avatar
15 months ago
What a horrid feature, especially for desktop.

The Apple News app is awful. They should have made the access to magazines front and centre, instead it's like a child's version of an rss reader only worse. It presents a poorly categorised dull mix of the same kind of news stories.

The curated stuff, when political, takes a very narrow political view too. It's quite preachy.

I got 6 months of apple news plus for free through my mobile provider, I tried really hard to like it. In the end I only use it to occasionally read a Times (UK) article, which are really hard to find as there's no proper search engine in the app.

Once the 6 months free expires, I'll be deleting the app across all my iDevices.

Subbing separately to news services, whatever mix you want, that interest you and you'll actually read seems like a better options.

Apple News+ is a solution looking for a problem.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
unobtainium Avatar
15 months ago
I subscribe to the New York Times because they still engage in a lot of (expensive) investigative journalism, and that’s worth paying for. They also have a clean app design and nice presentation. I’m not sure why anyone would pay Apple to gather together other people’s content and present it in a messy, ugly app.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
15 months ago
Sounds like Apple is panicking about the lack of traction of their News app and decided to start hijacking traffic to bring its numbers up.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jonathan Leclerc Avatar
15 months ago
Wow, I wasn't expecting such a misinformed article here. Let's quickly review. When you subscribe to Apple News+ you get access to content within the app that is typically also available to non News+ subscribers behind pay walls on a given publisher's website. That's great, but what happens if you stumble on a news article outside of Apple News+ that you're interested to read? You have access to the content within Apple's app but it could be difficult to find it there, yet you're confronted to a pay wall on the publisher's website. Currently, Apple provides a way around by providing the use of a user specific and Apple provided email and password to use your News+ account on any pay wall of News+ participating organization. However, it's kind of a cumbersome solution. Now, this new feature basically makes this process automatic. And if you don't like being redirected to the News+ app (although that would be strange as the reading experience is much better compared to most crummy websites) you just have to toggle off the feature. Big whoop, right? And for all those clamouring that medias would loose money, you're just wrong: Apple pays royalties when a News+ subscriber accesses some content of a participing news publisher. What the publisher potentially would have made through publicity on their website, they will make through Apple News+ royalties instead. And you can be sure something like that is well provided for in the contracts that news organizations sign with Apple. So, ironically, this is basically a big non-news story. And I really didn't expect such Apple fearmongering from MacRumors.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
twinpeaks_sf Avatar
15 months ago
For me, this is a nice feature that I intend to keep on. I get access to a lot of content via Apple News+ but don't have (or want, for that matter) individual logins for each publisher. So it's really nice when I hit a paywall in Safari to have the News app open and display the article I have access to. I bet a lot of people will appreciate this. If it's not for you, the toggle is there to turn off and I don't think people without a News+ subscription need think about this at all.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DoogH Avatar
15 months ago
Am I the only one that likes this?

I subscribe to Apple News, and I regularly want to open the article there, because there's a paywall or ads.

As long as you can disable it, imo, it makes Apple News+ more valuable.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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