Apple’s News App & News Consumption, Part Two

I could only really mess around with Apple’s News app for a few hours before I wrote that previous post about why I wouldn’t really need it and why I still use RSS. Since then I’ve discovered a little more about it, but still don’t know how much use it could ever really be to me. It also got me thinking some more about how fundamentally my news consumption has changed in the last 10 years or so.

Previously I compared Apple’s News app to RSS before realizing it actually does have a function to accept RSS feeds. If you go to a website in Safari with a certain kind of feed you can tell iOS9 to add that feed to the News app. I haven’t gotten it to actually work but there it is.

I think this would be pretty useful if I was willing to rebuilt my entire list of news feeds from scratch. Maybe. If Apple is actually committed to News for the long haul, maybe it’ll add a lot more features in the future. Maybe it’ll let me just feed it an OPML file so I can bring over all my RSS feeds. Maybe it will (or already has) released some kind of protocol any website (like this one for instance) can adopt to be available to the app’s users. At that point though I guess News would just become Apple’s version of Feedly or Google Reader or something.

But of course I’m just talking about the way I personally have come to consume news these days. I still don’t have a good feel for whether or not many people actually still use RSS. Maybe most people really do want an automatically curated feed rather than a manually curated one. Maybe most people still have their one or two publications they check every day like a newspaper, which is why you have apps for individual publications.

This is the point where I started to think about what news websites I even visits anymore. I don’t know if it’s RSS that did this to me or just the nature of news sites evolving without me, but I pretty much don’t visit the front pages of places like IGN, GameSpot, USAToday, The Washington Post, or whatever anymore. Oh I still read the stories on all those sites, just through their RSS feeds. That in itself isn’t very interesting information, but what did interest me is when I realized I still do regularly check a few news websites, and what all of them have in common is they display their updates in a single, linear feed.

The two main ones are All Games Beta and Gamersyde, both of which mostly focus on presenting one or two kinds of information well. AGB is just a list of new screenshots and trailers, occasionally throwing in Japanese magazine scans and what I believe to be unaltered press releases, with nothing else on the site to distract you. Gamersyde is almost entirely a linear feed of trailers and videos with uncompressed direct downloads. Another smaller example is a place called The Magic Box that stopped doing news updates a while ago but used to be a nice, simple source of information and media other websites might miss sometimes. As opposed to the larger websites with grids of headlines, the aforementioned ones are really a lot like this blog.

I think what all those places really have in common is they don’t do anything to get in the way of the real meat of their updates: the news, the pictures, the videos, whatever. It’s all presented to you right when you get to the site. I can’t go to the front pages of the larger sites anymore because I feel like I have to look around too much for stories I want to read. I don’t want to say they’re too bloated, because I think that content saturation is just what happens when you have a publication covering a massive diversity of subjects. I remember checking IGN every day when it was just IGN64 — it was much easier to read most or all the updates. Now IGN is about games, movies, TV, science, and probably a lot else, and it has to have all that on the front page.

I guess RSS has become a massive list of direct links to the news and updates I really want, bypassing the exploration process. I imagine for a lot of people this is what twitter has become. Apple’s News app is really just another alternative with its own quirks.

BULLETS:

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