Apple announced its own publishing tool for media companies and an updated news-reading app during its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday in San Francisco. No longer will media companies have content from their own apps within Apple's Newsstand app, which is going away. Instead, publishers have the option to be featured in the new News app and also to create content natively in the Apple News format.
The platform offers animations and videos and also interactive experiences like swiping text and autoplay videos. "The articles can come from anywhere. But the best ones are created in our Apple News format. We think this offers the best mobile reading experience ever," said Susan Prescott, vice president of marketing at Apple.
Launch partners include the New York Times, ESPN, Condé Nast and CNN. To demonstrate the feature, Prescott showed articles from ESPN and Wired. Now publishers will have the option to create their own interactive experiences for iOS users in an app that will come pre-installed on future iPhones.
"It supports our mobile strategy to publish and syndicate our content to new platforms, and meet our customers where they consume news. Ultimately it is about making CNN -- Personal," CNN Chief Product Officer Alex Wellen said in a statement announcing the company's participation.
Apple’s new app has been compared to Flipboard, a mobile app released in 2010 that curates news articles for easy-to-read mobile experiences and also creates personalized feeds. Flipboard has more than 100 million accounts, and last month, there were rumors that microblogging site Twitter was looking to acquire the company for a $1 billion stock deal.
Like Newsstand and Flipboard, News app users can subscribe to certain publishers whose content will automatically update. However, unlike Newsstand but like Flipboard, the app will have an Explore section. When first opening News, users will be able to create a profile with topics of interest such as business, entertainment and politics. The Explore section will have suggested channels and suggested topics based on those selected interests. The page looks similar to the suggested page on streaming service Netflix.
Within Explore, users can also search for content within articles. For example, while searching for "Swift," Prescott was shown stories from several publishers about the product Swift and the entertainer Taylor Swift.
Apple follows a push by social networks to directly host content from news organizations and make the experiences more interactive on mobile. In May, Facebook released Instant Articles -- a program that allows publishers to create content for the Facebook mobile app. Facebook’s launch partners included BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, National Geographic, NBC, the New York Times, the Guardian, BBC, Siegel Online and Bild.
In January, Snapchat launched its Discover network for media companies. The disappearing messaging app's launch partners included National Geographic, Yahoo News, Comedy Central, People magazine, Food Network, CNN, Warner Music, ESPN, Vice, the Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan.
Here's the full list of Apple's launch partners for News:
For Instant Articles, the publisher keeps 100 percent of the revenue from the ads they sell and 70 percent if they let Facebook sell the spots. Snapchat’s model is reportedly 70-30 and 50-50, respectively. Apple did not reveal its revenue model for the program. For companies that participated in Newsstand, Apple had a 70-30 revenue model. As Recode reports, that may be the same for News.
As part of the launch, Apple will discontinue its Newsstand app. Apple announced Newsstand at its 2011 developers conference. Originally, Newsstand was available only on the iPad but later expanded to the iPhone. Participating companies in Newsstand saw in-app revenue more than quadruple from October 2011 to July 2012, TechCrunch reported. However, some publishers took issue with how apps were hidden away in a folder.
Apple's News app will roll out first in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. There was no specific launch date announced at the event Monday.