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Sept. 17, 2015, 10:27 a.m.
Mobile & Apps

iOS 9: How news organizations are updating their apps for Apple’s new operating system

Publishers update their apps for iOS 9 and get ready for News.

Apple opened up iOS 9 to everyone for download on Wednesday. Most of the attention is going to ad blocking (and, yep, the No. 1 paid app in the App Store today is an ad blocker), but publishers are also updating their apps for the new operating system, and will continue to do in coming days. (The new version of the Apple Watch operating system, watchOS 2, had also been expected Wednesday, but it’s been delayed.)

First, of course, there’s the new News app, which takes the place of Newsstand (your news apps are set free, floating free on your home screen). Apple News, installed by default with iOS 9, is a Flipboard-like news reader that lets participating publishers distribute their content directly on Apple devices. Any publisher can sign up to add content, and dozens — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, Vox, Quartz, The Atlantic, and more — are already available.

ios9-iphone-search-newsBeyond News, one of the biggest changes in iOS 9 is revamped search: It now extends inside apps. Swipe right to pull up the Spotlight screen, then search for a term like “Syria” and find related news stories from apps that have enabled the feature. The Spotlight screen will also surface other customized content, including location-based news, and suggests apps based on the time of day that you normally use them — so it might pull up the New York Times app during your commute, for instance.

Related is deep linking, which lets users open search results within an app instead of in a web browser. Here’s how Apple explains that one: “If users have your app installed, the link takes them directly into your app; if they don’t have your app installed, the link opens your website in Safari.”

There are also iPad-specific updates: The iPad running iOS 9 supports split-screen mode and picture-in-picture mode, allowing you to run apps side by side or briefly open one app and then slide it away. These features should work especially well with the new, big iPad Pro that Apple announced last week.

A number of news publishers and news apps have been updated for iOS 9, or are taking the opportunity to explain what their News app strategy will look like. Here are a few changes to look for, and we’ll continue to update this list:

The Guardian: Search and deep linking are enabled, so you can find Guardian content from the iOS 9 Spotlight screen and access content within the app straight from Safari. Multitasking is enabled, too, allowing The Guardian to be used with another app. (The Guardian also updated its Apple Watch app, but, again, watchOS 2 has been delayed.)

BuzzFeed: Works with Spotlight search.

Pocket: Works with Spotlight search, as well as the new “Picture in Picture” feature on iPad, so you can watch a video in Pocket while using other iPad apps.

Flipboard: Works with Spotlight search.

Timeline: Results from the app appear in Spotlight. And “annotated text within Timeline will bring up cards with context and detailed information on relevant topics.” The Apple Watch app gets an update too.

— New York magazine is making almost all its stories available on Apple News, and its launch advertiser is Gucci, with ads starting to appear Friday.

POSTED     Sept. 17, 2015, 10:27 a.m.
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