At the company's 'It's Show Time' press event tonight (25 March), Apple finally took the wraps off its 'all you can eat' magazine service tonight, a year after agreeing to acquire Texture. This service is named News+, and exists as a paid tier within the existing (free) app News.
Can the company do for news journalism what it did for digital music in the early 2000s, and make it profitable? We certainly hope so. In this article we cover all the News+ launch details, including its pricing, the magazines and other publications offered as part of the service, and when it will launch in each country.
What is Apple News+?
News is a free app which curates articles from a range of media outlets and presents it in an attractive, ad-free format suited to your device. But paywalled publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times allow only a small amount of their content to appear in News.
With the launch of News+, Apple brings some of these stragglers into the fold: the company proudly mentioned that the WJS has signed up, alongside the LA Times... but not the NYT. We assume Apple couldn't close that deal in time.
But oddly enough, the biggest draw of News+ is likely to be in areas other than news. It includes 'all you can eat' access to entire publications under a fixed monthly fee, much as Texture (often shorthanded as Spotify or Netflix for magazines) continued to do following its acquisition in March 2018, and these include 300 magazines running the gamut from food and health to gardening and cars.
Which publications are included in News+?
Loads! Apple picked out the following magazines as highlights:
The Atlantic, Better Homes & Gardens, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, ELLE, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, Esquire, Food & Wine, Good Housekeeping, GQ, Health, InStyle, Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, O, The Oprah Magazine, Parents, People, Real Simple, Rolling Stone, Runner's World, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Travel + Leisure, Vanity Fair, Vogue, WIRED and Woman's Day.
In terms of newspapers, Apple picked out The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and the Toronto Star.
Finally, the online publications include theSkimm, The Highlight by Vox, New York Magazine's sites Vulture, The Cut and Grub Street, and Extra Crunch from Verizon Media's TechCrunch.
How will News+ affect the publishing industry?
If Apple is canny in the way it positions the service, it should earn the company lots of money and make it even more editorially influential. As with many Apple services pitches, News+ begins with a huge advantage because the free News app is installed on so many iDevices and Macs.
But whether it will save journalism is more doubtful. For one thing, we've heard all this before, when the iPad launched in 2010 and digital magazines were supposed to be the silver bullet that would rescue an ailing industry - but sales never took off.
Yes, more people will be reading paid-for articles, because Apple has enormous reach and because it's easier to convince people to pay a single fee that covers all their media than to shell out multiple times for individual newspaper subscriptions.
But instead of a single chunk of revenue that they control, publications will now be getting crumbs from Apple's income, and at $9.99, the company is charging less per month than many newspaper currently do for their articles alone. What's more, once a company signs up with News+, and sees readers migrate to that service, it completely loses leverage if it wants to move or change terms in the future.
News+ is available now - if you live in North America. US and Canadian readers have only to install the latest iOS and/or macOS update (iOS 12.2 or macOS 10.14.4), launch News, sign up with a subscription and get started.
Apple News+ will launch in the UK and Australia in autumn 2019.
Apple News+ costs $9.99 a month. That's the only tier. Family Sharing is included in the standard price, so up to six people can share a single subscription.
In Canada News+ costs $12.99 a month. We don't know how much it will cost in the UK, but assume it will probably be £10 a month.
There's a month-long free trial, too, but the paid subscription will automatically start renewing once the trial ends, if you don't choose to discontinue it.
Which devices can run News+?
Any iPad or iPhone that can run iOS 12.2, and any Mac that can run macOS 10.14.4. There used to be a Windows version of Texture but that was shut down in May.