Digital Publishing Top Stories

Apple’s WWDC 2018 – Key Takeaways for Publishers

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2018 is taking place this week in San Jose, California. Although the annual conference is primarily focused on developers, it offers insights into Apple’s vision for the future across its entire ecosystem, including iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Macs.

The WWDC keynote on Monday had quite a few updates and changes that are of interest to publishers. Here are the big ones.

Apple News coming to Mac, with increased revenue potential

Just when Facebook has decided to show fewer news stories in its news feed, Apple is bringing its News App to the Mac. This can be great news for publishers, as Apple News can account for 50%-60% of traffic for stories.

According to Tom Dotan at The Information, getting featured by Apple News “can yield a flood of traffic for publishers. Apple News has generated half of Vox.com’s daily traffic at times, according to a person familiar with Vox’s numbers. An executive at the website of a major TV network said Apple News has accounted for as much as 60% of traffic for some stories.”

Apple is reportedly looking at introducing a monthly subscription service for the News app. This would open up a new revenue source for many publishers.

Also, now that Apple has officially greenlighted publishers to use Google’s industry standard ad-serving tool DoubleClick to serve ads in their Apple News articles, publishers have yet another avenue to earn ad revenue from the app.

Apple says you can “get all the news that matters to you in one app. And your favorite topics, channels, and saved stories stay in sync between devices. So you can start reading something on your iPhone, then pick it up later on your Mac.”

“Learn as you burn.” Apple’s Podcasts app is coming to Apple Watch

Another good news for publishers, Apple is bringing its homegrown podcasts app to the Apple Watch. Now podcast aficionados can listen to their favourite programs from the comfort of their wrists, with the help of Siri.

This naturally brings more safety and convenience to listeners on the go, without the hassles, distractions and safety issues associated with trying to control an app via the phone, especially while on the move.

Here’s what Apple has to say:

“Users can now listen to their favorite podcasts on the go with Apple Podcasts on Apple Watch and stream any podcast in the catalog by using Siri. Episodes will automatically sync to Apple Watch, and as they’re listened to on other devices, the app will automatically refresh with the latest episode.

A new feature for developers allows music, audiobooks and meditation sessions from apps such as Pandora, Audible and 10% Happier to be synced to Apple Watch for playback offline without the user’s iPhone nearby.”

Dark Mode. Focus on Content.

Apple next macOS, announced at the WWDC keynote, is named Mojave. The new macOS introduces the Dark Mode, which transforms the Mac desktop with a dramatic darkened color scheme where content pops and controls recede into the background.

According to Apple, “Dark Mode is a dramatic new look that helps you focus on your work. The subtle colors and fine points of your content take center screen as toolbars and menus recede into the background.

Switch it on in System Preferences to create a beautiful, distraction-free working environment that’s easy on the eyes — in every way. Dark Mode works with built-in apps that come with your Mac, and third-party apps can adopt it, too.”

This may come in handy both for publishers and content consumers, allowing users to stay better focused in a darkened, distraction-free environment.

A few other items of interest to publishers:

iOS apps to Mac apps

Over time, Macs and iOS devices have been getting closer in terms of functionality. Now Apple is bridging the gap, announcing it will be making it easier to convert iOS apps to Mac apps. Apple plans to release the functionality in 2019.

And that means every publisher with an iOS app can have a corresponding Mac app without having to put in a whole lot of extra effort. Imagine the possibilities, and the explosion of apps to come.

Privacy and Security

Another announcement that merits closer attention is Apple’s doubling down on privacy on its web browser, Safari. Safari will now block tracking from “Like” buttons and comment fields — features that Facebook and ad networks use to track users and collect behavior data.

The new macOS Mojave will also add anonymization features to stop “fingerprinting,” a technique data companies use to track users individually based on their computer configurations.

“One of the reasons that people choose Apple products is because of our commitment to privacy,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering.

Group Chats on FaceTime

Finally, Apple’s native video chat platform FaceTime will allow group chats that can accommodate up to 32 participants. FaceTime will be integrated into Messages, allowing a simple transition from a group chat to a group video call. Provided all participants are in the Apple ecosystem, this opens up a host of interesting possibilities for Animoji loaded conference calls and virtual events.

All in all, a pretty good day for publishers.

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