My Apple News Publisher Experience Three Weeks Later

Back in March, I explained how to connect WordPress powers sites to Apple News. After three weeks of being in the system, here is what I experienced.

Stuck in Limbo

After configuring the plugin and successfully getting WP Tavern approved on Apple News, I thought that articles published on the site would automatically publish to Apple News. It didn’t work out that way, at least, not at first.

When checking the status of those articles in the WordPress backend, the Publish to Apple News plugin listed articles as Pending. Apple’s News publisher also didn’t show any drafts from WordPress or published articles.

Based on some Google searches, I created and published a new article within the Apple News Publisher app. Unfortunately, it didn’t show up as a published article and because it was the first one, it had to be approved by Apple News.

Apple News Publisher First Submission
Apple News Publisher First Submission

The first article published in Apple News was on March 21st. Between March 21st and March 31st, I was stuck in limbo. I had no idea when the article would be approved or at what point in the process I was in.

With the lack of communication, I started troubleshooting the Publish to Apple News plugin thinking that something was wrong. In the plugin’s settings, there’s an option to turn debugging on which sends emails to a specified email address each time an article is published, updated, or deleted with a detailed API response.

Apple News Publisher Debug Options
Apple News Publisher Debug Options

I didn’t receive any emails when articles were published leading me to believe there was a potential communication issue between the Tavern and Apple News. A few days passed by when all of a sudden, I received two emails with debug information.

I checked the Tavern’s Apple News channel and discovered that the first article I published using Apple’s publishing tool was approved. Had I not checked the channel, I wouldn’t have known that it was approved. I disabled debug mode in the Publish to Apple News plugin and noticed articles published on the Tavern after the approval appeared as expected.

Published Articles In Apples News Publisher
Published Articles In Apples News Publisher

Apple should send an email notification when the first article is approved along with details that future articles will be published automatically.

What Articles Look Like in the Apple News App

I kept the default style settings provided by the Publish to Apple News plugin. As you can see, the articles don’t look that bad with the exception of the WordCamp Central article. For some reason, the image splits up the first sentence of the post. I’m looking into why this happens but I’ve seen it on other posts as well.

One thing I don’t like is that if an image is used at the beginning of an article, the Apple News App displays the HTML code of the image on the article listing page instead of article text. It would be more beneficial to readers if the listing page displayed text from the article and not HTML related to images.

Apple News Publisher Analytics

According to the analytics dashboard in Apple News Publisher, some of you have subscribed to our channel. The dashboard includes stats like, unique viewers, total views, article shares, and more.

Apple News Analytics
Apple News Analytics

You can even dive into analytics on a per post level to determine why some articles do better than others. To view stats in a different program or to back them up, Apple News publisher allows you to download up to 30 days worth of data at once in CSV format.

The Experiment Continues

There’s not enough data to determine if publishing articles to Apple News is worth the effort. Three months from now, I’ll look at the data and publish a follow-up post with our findings. It will also include reviews from readers who are subscribed to our channel to find out what they like and dislike about consuming WP Tavern’s content through Apple News.

Although the process could use some improvement, especially around communication, once the approval process is complete, the system runs automatically. Let us know in the comments what your experience has been like connecting your site to Apple News Publisher.


12 responses to “My Apple News Publisher Experience Three Weeks Later”

  1. Thank you for your report on the various publishing options. Creating plugins for Google’s AMP, Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News truly contributes to WordPress’s missiong of “democratizing publishing”.
    Other enterprise or open-source CMSs will struggle to keep up with this pace of development.
    Along with the whole WordPress community troubleshooting early versions of the three plugins, any blogger or publisher is able to play along side the big players on the big stage. Your report on Apple News is extremely helpful!

  2. No issues for me connecting to the news service. The plugin itself is annoying to me.

    I understand they want to give you all the design options but without being able to preview it’s a lot of fumbling around in the settings to get it to look okay. (The default settings feels like size: 8px that was popular in the late 90’s) Especially when view on an iPad with the bigger screen.

  3. Seems both Apple and Google are crap at actually helping their users get onto their “better mobile” experience.

    Haven’t tried Apple News yet, and probably won’t, but tried to set up AMP. Followed instructions, set my blog up, and still Webmaster tools is telling me I’m not set up on AMP.

    Meh. I think I’ll remove from AMP, add to Facebook Instant next week, and simply keep my site responsive and offer a better mobile experience that way.

  4. People should stop using crap like AMP, FB instant, and Apple news. It’s not helpful in the current state for user and publisher too. It’s not a good idea to just use these tools, bc. Apple, Google or Facebook made it.
    If any small company did something much better, people would not use it. Why just give credit and more power to these big corporations if their products are crap? Then after years, all these people will cry why Google/FB/Apple do this and that, change algorithm or rules. Simply don’t use it. You don’t have to just bc. every crappy blog writes about it even if it’s not helpful or give any value to somebody.

    Why so many publishers give their freedom and control to other companies? Actually, these companies have much more power in their hands that is healthy.

    • To a degree, I agree. From my own experience, the AMP one sucks (not just from my attempts to implement, but the experience as a reader, with its stripped down approach leaving the good stuff out).

      Facebook Instant is a little different (again, just from a personal opinion). My social stats in GA show that Facebook and Twitter are my biggest social drivers – the rest come nowhere near close. My biggest traffic driver remains search (over 60%), then my email subs, then referrals.

      So, I don’t really care about social too much. But given the majority of my social traffic is Facebook (and even that is a miniscule amount compared to the rest), I’m fine with making a seamless user experience on Facebook. See my link, click, stay on FB if you want, and get a good representation of my content while doing so. If it makes it more frictionless for sharing, better still.

      Of course, like anything, if the stats show me FBIA isn’t doing a lot for me, I’ll disable and just leave responsive as the main option for mobile readers from Facebook.

      • Although @Peter Cralen is right at an ideological level – the reality is, what choice/leverage do publishers have over Facebook or Google? NONE

        Therefore publishers have to publish natively to those platforms knowing that FB & Google will change the algorithm & rules.

        In reality, both Facebook & Google are news publisher’s biggest competitors:
        1. both compete for attention
        2. compete for traffic & users
        3. monetize off traffic & advertising

        Therefore, if publishers *have to* publish to Facebook & Google natively (they do)…. the smart strategic plan is to do so *AND* publish natively to other platform competitors like Apple News, Twitter, and Snapchat.

        By publishing natively to Apple News, et al… you’re investing in other new platforms – and lessening your dependence on Facebook & Google.

        Moreover, particularly about Apple News: because Apple does *NOT* monetize off advertising & traffic. They don’t compete or care to compete with publishers. They’re the platform to least worry about.

        There’s a reason why most big publishers were smart when they published to Apple News – while publishing to Facebook Instant Articles. The traffic is *tiny*, but it’s brand new…

        I highly suggest all publishers to do the same and publish to Apple News…. it’s a terrible idea to have all your eggs with Facebook/Google – especially when FB/Google are your biggest competitors


  5. Thanks for looking at this and telling us about your experience. Syndication is important for content amplification, but I am curious also as to whether this is worth all of the effort or not. It depends on if it grows into a major platform and catches on or not.


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