Apple wants to guide news consumption with News app, partnerships with 50 news companies

Markets Associated Press

Apple wants to be a central part of how you consume news.

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The iPhone maker has forged partnerships with CNN, National Geographic and others — more than 50 companies so far, representing hundreds of outlets. Apple will launch a News service on iPhones and iPads as part of a free software update this month. That means millions of devices will get the app on the home screen, with no separate download required.

Here's what's known so far:

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HOW IT WORKS

You begin by choosing at least three news topics or outlets of interest. Topics include "cooking," ''science" and "dogs," while outlets include Hearst and BuzzFeed.

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You get a customized feed of news. Just tap on any item to get the story in a layout that resembles a print publication — without a lot of clutter found on many websites these days. The app offers uniform navigation, but publishers can customize the presentation to reflect their brands, says Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media.

You can search for stories or browse by topic or outlet. You can like or share stories, or save them to read offline. Your interactions will influence future recommendations.

Although Apple has partnerships with just a few dozen outlets, thousands more are available through a feed technology called RSS. These are typically top headlines chosen by the outlet and presented in a standard format that various apps, such as News, can understand. News from The Associated Press will be available through the News app that way.

News outlets choose which stories go into the service, and Apple plans to leave it to its software to organize them. In tests of a preliminary version of News, negative stories about the company are still appearing prominently, alongside news on competitors.

News outlets will experiment. At CNN, for instance, there's a team devoted to adapting and creating content for the News app. For now, CNN isn't planning much with breaking news, as Executive Vice President Andrew Morse sees it as more of a "lean-back storytelling experience," akin to magazines.

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THE COST

The service is free, and outlets such as The New York Times that usually charge for online access are offering a selection of their stories for free. There will be ads. That's notable as Apple is permitting ad-blocking technology in its Safari Web browser, but not in apps. The outlets keep revenue from any ads they sell. For ads Apple sells, the outlets get 70 percent.

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OTHER SOURCES FOR NEWS

Ken Doctor, a media analyst for Newsonomics, says many people now get news directly from an outlet's app. Otherwise, they get it from social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Facebook, for instance, has an initiative called Instant Articles, which promises faster loading of news content on Facebook. SnapChat started a news section called Discover.

Doctor says news aggregators such as Apple's News represent another way of getting news, but they will have to prove compelling enough for readers to spend time there instead.

Apple believes it can help you read what you want to read, without having to do a lot of work finding it. Instead of having to check multiple apps, just go to News.

Publishers see the News app as a way to reach new audiences. Fred Santarpia, chief digital officer for Conde Nast, says he can't make people come to his company's magazine apps, so "you have to go where they are."

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PRIVACY

Apple keeps track of what you read to make recommendations and tailor advertising. The company promises not to link your reading habits with other services. So ad targeting based on news stories read will appear only in the News app — not while using other Apple services, such as Music. You can turn off ad targeting and clear your reading history.