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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!