Why I Enjoy Apple News So Much

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.  ••


Staring at Phones is now on Apple News!

Hi everyone!

Well it took four weeks for Apple to approve me, but the Staring at Phones blog is now officially on Apple News!

What is Apple News? It’s that new app that showed up on your iPhone or iPad when you installed iOS 9.  It’s a place to get news – about all kinds of topics – from traditional news outlets as well as blogs.  You can follow a certain account (or “channel”) as well as different topics.  After a month of using it, I really enjoy it.  You can be sure I’ll go into more detail on that in a future post.

But anyway, Apple News is now the latest way to keep up to date with everything Staring at Phones!  You can check out this link here to see my channel (yes, you have to click the link on your iOS 9 device).  Searching “Staring at Phones” doesn’t bring anything up yet, but I’m assuming that will start working soon.*  You can see that I’ve divided my channel into three sub-categories (in addition to “All”), which reflect the new way I’m organizing content here on WordPress as well.  First is “Apple.”  I didn’t start this to be an Apple blog, but that’s where the majority of my interests are, so it naturally happened that a good bit of what I write about is Apple related.  You can find it all under this tab.  Next is “App Reviews,” for the review I do at the beginning of each month.  After that is the “Misc.” tab, which basically means “Everything Else.”  Although I’ve got an Apple slant these days, I still like to cover random things in the technology industry, so I’ve got all that content in this tab.  Now here’s the embarrassing part: right now those tabs aren’t working.  I don’t know why; I know the RSS feeds I gave Apple are working, so I’m just hoping that, again, this will start working soon.  I’ll keep you posted.**

So check it out!  Apple News is joining the many ways to follow this blog, right along side WordPress, email, RSS, and Twitter, and I’m excited to keep pushing Staring at Phones into the future.  Thanks so much for reading!  ••

*Update 10/23/15: Staring at Phones does indeed now come up in Apple News search!

**Last week’s story about Tesla is now filed under the Misc. tab, so it seems those subheadings work, but they’ll only grab content published after I gave them to Apple News.  So those headings should be filling up with posts soon!