When iOS 9 was unveiled at WWDC this year, Apple was very pleased to announce that a new application would be joining the iOS family: News.
Collecting and formatting stories from a huge number of sources around the world, Apple News now makes it incredibly easy to stay up-to-date with current events, all served natively within a single, beautifully designed app on all iOS devices.
With all that being said, what’s even more exciting is that publishing on Apple News is not exclusive to major news outlets. Absolutely anyone, from small companies down to individuals with blogs, may register to have their content available on Apple News!
Partly as a test, and partly to help make our content more accessible, we tried registering the News section of the Realm website with Apple News. Lo and behold, here are the results!
If you’re reading on iOS, see the Realm channel in Apple News.
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Needless to say, it takes very minimal effort to set up a news feed on Apple News. If you or your company publishes a news feed of any kind, you should definitely consider signing up.
What sort of requirements are there?
Additionally, as you may have come to expect of Apple, your registration will need to be manually approved by an Apple staff member, so you should also ensure the type of content you’re producing is an appropriate fit for the Apple News platform.
For more information on formatting your RSS content for Apple News, be sure to check out the Creating RSS Content page in the Apple News Publishing Guide.
How do I sign up?
All you need to do is visit http://icloud.com/newspublisher and sign in with your normal Apple ID. You’ll then be taken through a series of web forms, where you’ll need to supply your contact information, as well as information about your new news channel.
Finally, you’ll be asked to supply a PNG image of your logo. This will be displayed in the navigation bar of your channel in the News app.
Once you’ve submitted all of this information, your registration will be set to ‘pending review’ by the Apple News team. If all goes well, a few days later, you should receive an email from them, letting you know that your content was approved and your channel is now live in the Apple News app.
Why is my channel empty?
Immediately after you’ve been approved, you may notice that your channel is empty, and may think something is broken. This is actually because Apple News doesn’t retroactively pull past items from your RSS feed. Once a channel has been made live on Apple News, only articles published since then will be picked up and shown inside the app.
(If nothing still appears after you’ve published your next article, then maybe your RSS feed is broken.)
How do I best format my logo?
There are several considerations in making sure your logo looks the best that it can in Apple News. At the very least, it needs to be at least 256x256 pixels, saved as a transparent PNG. If you upload a bigger image, Apple’s system is smart enough to cut out any excess transparent regions, and rescale the logo to the required size.
One critical thing to consider is that the logo must look good, even if all of its color information is removed and only the shape remains. This is because in certain parts of the Apple News app, the logo will transition from all-color to a white transparency mask depending on the color of the content behind it.
The iMore logo on their channel is a terrific example of this:
As you can see, even when the logo is converted to a flat, white mask, the detail in the circle element on the left is still perfectly legible. Being able to achieve this effect, will of course, depend on your logo.
For more information on formatting logos for Apple News, be sure to check out the Asset Specifications page in the Apple News Publishing Guide.
How do I make each article have a preview image?
At present, there’s no way to manually configure preview images for each article.
By default, Apple News will create a preview image for each of your articles if you’ve supplied an embedded image at the start of your content body for each entry in your RSS feed.
For blogging platforms like WordPress, there are usually plugins that allow you to explicitly embed your featured image for each post in your RSS feed.
How do I pick a profile image for my channel?
In the Favorites tab of Apple News, your channel’s profile image will initially simply be a flat color, derived from the color of your website’s favicon. However, once you start publishing articles, your latest article’s preview image will also become your channel’s profile image.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to manually control this behavior.
What is the Apple News Format?
While supplying an RSS feed is the only way to publish content to Apple News at present, Apple has no intention of limiting it to just that.
The Apple News Format is a new, completely custom way to submit news content to the platform, allowing much greater control on the presentation and formatting of text, and the ability to embed much richer visual media than RSS allows. Additionally, it also allows for the integration of iAd, making monetizing these articles in a non-obtrusive way extremely trivial as well.
The format itself is simply a series of JSON files, generated locally, and then submitted to Apple through a custom REST API.
The Apple News Format is only available to a few media outlets for the time being, but Apple has promised that everyone will have access to it soon. In the meantime, the JSON specification is already available online.
With the addition of Apple News on iOS 9, consuming news content on iOS has become more enjoyable than ever. And with the ability for anyone to contribute to the platform, it’s only going to grow and become more rich over time.
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