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

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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.

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

ohmydays

macrumors member
Aug 18, 2020
52
138
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.
 
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otternonsense

macrumors 68000
Jul 25, 2016
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Berlin
I'd say it's one of those apps that get deleted first (like Stocks) but News doesn't even exist as an iPhone app in the EU yet, only as a widget on the iPad.

And to think about all this fuss over looping users into Apple News+ and/or doubling down on existing users, yet still no weather or calculator app on the iPad since iOS 7.
 
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chucker23n1

macrumors 601
Dec 7, 2014
4,636
5,826
It's worth noting that the banners only appear for users who subscribe to Apple News+.

Doesn't seem like a problem, then. Who would subscribe to Apple News+ and also not want to use the app?

In general, though, I wish universal links were a bit more flexible by now though. I don't want Twitter links to open in Twitter; I want to open them in Tweetbot. And I want reddit links to open in Apollo. This all seems conceptually less than ideal.

Hopefully, iOS 14's support for default browser/mail client is a starting point for coming up with a better design. I'm still not sure how you actually choose those defaults: does a UI show up in Settings? Or does the non-default app show a prompt (if so: eww)?
 
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RedTheReader

macrumors member
Nov 18, 2019
83
85
How come? It's a nice way to read news from a number of varied, reputable sources (and News+ access to magazines is really nicely implemented on many publications – it makes reading longer articles really pleasant).
I believe there are many users who find the News app to be biased and/or politically skewed. And unlike entertainment, one can’t really publish and/or consume news without being political; it’s just an inherent quality.

I haven’t used News(+) myself, so I can’t personally comment on how true I find the above to be.
 
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Appleman3546

macrumors 6502
May 13, 2019
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473
So Apple news publishers are going to abandon smart app banners, Apple is getting way too aggressive when there are options for these websites
 
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orbital~debris

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Mar 3, 2004
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I believe there are many users who find the News app to be biased and/or politically skewed. And unlike entertainment, one can’t really publish and/or consume news without being political; it’s just an inherent quality.

I haven’t used News(+) myself, so I can’t personally comment on how true I find the above to be.

I can't really understand how an app that allows the user to follow topics of their choice can be biased and/or politically skewed… unless you were to say that every available source within the app is restricted to those that match a single bias or political standpoint (which in practice would be very difficult to achieve anyway, as all news sources and publications will have variances in their voice, if they even have a collective standpoint to begin with).

Also there seems to be a persistent misunderstanding that the + part of News+ is magazine & long-form content, much of which from publications that really have nothing to do with politics (e.g. gardening, astronomy, cookery, homes, cycling, gaming).
 
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Ramchi

macrumors 65816
Dec 13, 2007
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I don't use Apple News+ etc....thank God for that! I don't intend to pay for the stuff I get it free anyways
 
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RedTheReader

macrumors member
Nov 18, 2019
83
85
I can't really understand how an app that allows the user to follow topics of their choice can be biased and/or politically skewed… unless you were to say that every available source within the app is restricted to those that match a single bias or political standpoint (which in practice would be very difficult to achieve anyway, as all news sources and publications will have variances in their voice, if they even have a collective standpoint to begin with).
Well, like I said, I don’t really have an opinion on the service because I haven’t used it. That’s just the general understanding I have of some others’ opinions. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
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entropys

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2007
708
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How come? It's a nice way to read news from a number of varied, reputable sources (and News+ access to magazines is really nicely implemented on many publications – it makes reading longer articles really pleasant).
You left out the bit where Apple, how do they put it? Oh, yes, “curates” the content.

never let anyone else decide what you read for you.
 
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Scipster

macrumors member
Aug 13, 2020
73
132
I don't subscribe to Apple News+, but if I did I think I would throughly enjoy this feature. The integrated experience would make the product so much better!

That said, I do enjoy my subscriptions to the NYT and WSJ, and their apps are leagues beyond what Apple News can do.

If Apple could find a happy medium - open links in Apple News+ where I do not already have the publisher's app - that would be fantastic!
 
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4jasontv

macrumors 68040
Jul 31, 2011
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I do, but I pay the publishers directly, not Apple.

I'd pay a MacRumors subscription too if it got rid of the adverts.
I'd Pay a subscription to MR for:

1. No ads.
2. The ability to delete my posts.
3. Direct communication with mods if there is an issue.
4. Exclusive, early access to videos by Dan.
5. Exclusive subscriber events (WWDC Bingo, MacRumorsWorld trade show where I can get software and hardware discounts, etc.)
6. Q/A sessions with editors.
7. The ability to better customize content presentation to make forum threads more visible.
8. Exclusive badges & emoticons
9. Improved alerting of reactions and replies to my comments. (I often don't get an alert that someone replied.)
10. An annual 'state of the Rumors' article that helped me understand how MR is doing.
 
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phobos512

macrumors regular
Mar 26, 2012
179
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Alexandria, VA, USA
You left out the bit where Apple, how do they put it? Oh, yes, “curates” the content.

never let anyone else decide what you read for you.

LOL. I guess you've never looked into how news organizations operate. Ever hear of an editor? A publisher? They're the ones who dictate what you see, no matter where you source your news.
 
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