iOS 14: Smart App Banners Point Safari Users to Apple News Instead of Publisher Apps

Apple has added Smart App Banners to the latest iOS 14 beta that prompt Safari users to open its News app when viewing the website of a publisher that is part of Apple News+.


First spotted by AppleInsider, the new in-app Safari prompts use Apple's Smart App Banner API, first introduced in iOS 13, which allows developers to prompt users to download their third-party app from the App Store or a corresponding link from Safari.

In this case, Apple is using the Smart App Banner framework to direct users to its own News app when they visit a website hosted by a publication that is also an ‌Apple News‌+ partner. It's worth noting that the banners only appear for users who subscribe to ‌Apple News‌+.

The Smart App Banner code on affected pages is reportedly unchanged, making it seem likely that it's a change to the way Safari handles publisher URLs, but it remains unclear if developers are able to control which banner appears.

The news follows a similar change Apple made in ‌iOS 14‌ and macOS Big Sur that directs users who tap to read a news story in Safari to the ‌‌Apple News‌‌ app instead of to the publisher's website.

Safari banner that appears in ‌iOS 14‌ (Image via AppleInsider)

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.

However, it has not gone down well with some large publishers, three of which have said they were not informed of the change and are now evaluating whether to terminate their relationship with ‌Apple News‌+ as a result.

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 has not only struggled to entice new publishers to ‌the paid service, it has had difficulty gaining new subscribers since it launched in March 2019.

Related Roundups: iOS 14, iPadOS 14

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
2 weeks ago
> It's worth noting that the banners only appear for users who subscribe to ‌Apple News‌+.

Good, I can continue to ignore the existence of Apple News+.

Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
2 weeks ago


Apple is really doing themselves no favors in their anti-trust case. Tell me how can a third party developer on iOS hijack third party website URLs and redirect to their own app?

It’s only for paying users who ALREADY pay the publisher via News+. This is so they can use their subscription on/from the web too. This has nothing to do with antitrust, just letting the user know that they can read the article with the News+ subscription they already have, instead of subscribing to another one for the web version.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
2 weeks ago
Apple is really doing themselves no favors in their anti-trust case. Tell me how can a third party developer on iOS hijack third party website URLs and redirect to their own app?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
2 weeks ago
Could be worse, could be Google Amp :rolleyes:
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
2 weeks ago
THIS IS ONLY FOR NEWS+ USERS, NOT REGULAR USERS OR USERS WHO HAVE SUBSCRIBED THROUGH THE PUBLISHER’S APP. This isn’t antitrust, for goodness sake. ?‍♂️
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
2 weeks ago
First app I delete on my iOS devices and the last one I recommend.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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