Last week when I announced that Staring at Phones is now available on Apple News, I mentioned how much I like the service. But I didn’t really say why. This week, I’m going to go into more detail about how I’m now using Apple News as my primary news reader. When I was thinking about how to describe why I like Apple News so much, I started thinking about what makes it better than other services I’ve tried. So I’m going to do this as a comparison, listing other news consumption/RSS feed apps and saying why Apple News is better.
Probably the app I used for the longest amount of time as a reader was WordPress. WordPress is still the best way to read blogs that are hosted by WordPress, because you can like and comment right there in the same app. Because of this, I’m still using the WordPress app for the few WordPress blogs I follow. However, I’ve stopped using WordPress as a general RSS reader, because I like Apple News’ layout better. Apple News uses a grid layout, with stories taking up different amounts of space based on headlines, images, and so on. This is in direct contrast to WordPress’ single column of posts. I like Apple’s grid better because it makes it easier to browse and surf through stories, picking out the ones I’m most interested in.
I’ve never used Flipboard extensively, but it’s actually very similar to Apple News. You follow specific blogs and general topics, and it gives you a grid-layout “magazine” of articles. The thing that bugged me most about Flipboard was that it showed the articles in pages that you “flip” through, instead of in a scroll line. For some reason I prefer scrolling, I guess it lets me see the context of each article, and how many more there are above and below it. Also, as far as I can tell, Flipboard’s articles are endless. This is nice if you have a lot of time on your hands, but I prefer to just scroll through what’s there and be done.
For awhile there, I used a rather unconventional way to follow blogs: I set up IFTTT recipes for each one that took every post and put it in Pocket. Pocket isn’t really meant to be a place where articles come in from blogs, it’s meant to be a place where you put things you found other places but want to come back to. Because of this, it’s not ideal as a reader, since articles sit there until you delete them, so stories start to pile up. However, sometimes I wanted articles to wait until I could get to them, so that could be nice. Fortunately, Apple News has a “Saved” section for just that. I just wish that you could add articles you found elsewhere, say, on Twitter, to this section. Personally, I think Apple should just make the Apple News Saved section and the Safari reading list one and the same, but maybe that’s just me.
There’s just one question left: what kind of content am I following on Apple News? Well, for traditional “news”, I’m really enjoying the content from Vox. It’s not too partisan, and the stories are really varied, instead of being all politics. As for Apple related stories, Six Colors is my go-to blog. I’ve tried adding other RSS feeds to Apple News with mixed results; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Fortunately, 99% of blogs I follow are either on WordPress or Apple News, so between those two, I’m pretty happy with the way I’ve got things set up right now. ••