Apple in late March unveiled its new Apple News+ service, which is designed to let Apple News users access over 200 magazines and some paywalled news content for a $9.99 per month fee.
We’ve been using Apple News+ over the course of the last week and a half and in our latest YouTube video, we explore whether the service is worth the $9.99 monthly cost.
Apple News+ primarily focuses on magazines, and there are right around 240 to choose from right now. There are major titles like National Geographic and The New Yorker, along with many smaller specialty magazines. The subscription fee also includes access to some paywalled news content from sites like The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, though as we’ll explain, there are some caveats.
All the new Apple News+ content is accessible through a new Apple News+ section in the Apple News app, which is displayed regardless of whether you subscribe to Apple News+. Apple News+ features a My Magazines section with content that you’re reading along with story and magazine suggestions from Apple News editors.
The user interface looks simple enough, but there are some quirks that have been confusing new subscribers. There’s no clear way to add a new magazine to the My Magazines list, and in fact, you have to search for the title of the magazine in the standard Apple News interface and "favorite" it with a heart to get it to show up reliably in My Magazines or tap the title to get taken to an overview page, neither of which is intuitive.
To further confuse things, some magazines that you’ve read but haven’t favorited will temporarily be displayed in My Magazines, and there are no options anywhere to control what shows up there, nor to customize content recommendations to make them more relevant to one’s interests.
When it comes to the magazines themselves, newly released magazine issues from major companies have a digital-focused interface that lets you scroll through a list of stories to get to what you want to read, but for back issues and lesser known magazines, content is presented in a PDF format that’s less than ideal.
PDFs look all right on iPad, but are difficult to read on iPhone, and the Mac interface for Apple News+ is no better. The single page spread on Mac features small text that’s not easy to zoom into, making reading PDF-based magazines on most devices a less than stellar experience.
News content is included in Apple News+, but in the case of The Wall Street Journal, there are some limitations. While you can access The Wall Street Journal‘s full range of content, Apple is only highlighting a selection of general interest news stories, and to find anything else, you have to search. Apple News+ also only retains three days of archived content.
Other major newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post have refused to join Apple News+, and it’s not clear if these publications will change their position.
Apple News+ is likely to improve in the future with interface updates and as more magazines adopt the customized digital-forward design, but right now, the service feels sloppy, unfinished, and confusing.
It’s also not clear if it’s something that will interest the general public given the heavy focus on magazines and the lack of subscription-based news that’s available. Apple’s prior magazine effort, Apple Newsstand, was ultimately unsuccessful. Unlimited access to magazine content might lure more readers, but whether this new venture will succeed remains to be seen.
Apple News+ had more than 200,000 subscribers following its March introduction, but all of those accounts are still on the one-month free trial that’s available and are not yet paying customers.
Have you signed up for Apple News+ and do you plan to keep the subscription? Let us know in the comments, and if you have questions about Apple News+, make sure to check out our Apple News+ guide.
This article, "Apple News+: Is it Worth the $9.99 per Month Subscription Price?" first appeared on MacRumors.com
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