Apple News+ First Impressions: Big, Bold, and Beautiful

Apple News saw an upgrade today, thanks to the arrival of News+. But does a host of new content really warrant a monthly subscription?

The short answer to that question is, yes. As long as you actually want any of the content being offered. During its big unveiling, Apple said that if you subscribed to each of the pieces of content available through Apple News+ on an individual basis, you’d be spending $8,000 or more per month. I doubt anyone is actually paying that, but of course, monthly subscriptions do make it a lot easier to reach content.

The idea here is sound: Apple wants to offer up all of this editorial and picturesque material for a relatively cheap amount per month. It’s an admirable effort, too, because a lot of what’s being offered is genuinely good stuff. The fact that you can get access to National Geographic, WIRED, The Hollywood Reporter, and much, much more for just $9.99 per month is great. Especially considering you’re getting the full experience — not just one story here, or a brief snippet there.

It’s a steal, and it’s a good one.

Let me just get this out of the way first: My first impression with Apple News+ is entirely on an iPhone XR. I haven’t upgraded my MacBook to the latest version of macOS just yet, and I don’t own an iPad (for now; I’m getting a new iPad mini soon). So while Apple wasn’t shy about touting the experience of News+ on the iPhone, I have no doubt whatsoever that the best possible experience is on a big(ger) screen.

That being said, Apple News+ is beautiful. It’s big in content availability and bold in its use of moving images to attract attention. It’s all of these things and more. Seeing shots of beautiful cities on the moving cover of Nat Geo is fantastic. And while I thought it would be strange at first, it’s genuinely nice to see this happening without me having to Force Touch it to happen.

The text is easy to read from one magazine to the next, and you can change the size as you see fit. There is no shift from Light to Dark mode, though. And there is no denying that photography in magazines is still one of the shining elements of the platform, and seeing it on an iPhone doesn’t disappoint at all. Being able to tap into a photo to see it up close and more detail is a nice, albeit expected, touch.

Open up the WIRED issue and watch as the cow’s head moves around while you move your iPhone around. It’s intense.

First impressions are brief but can leave a lasting impact. It’s safe for me to say that News+ is a positive one. These are magazines that I’ve wanted to subscribe to in the past but just haven’t wanted to spend the money for all of them at the same time. Being able to put them all together in one place for one low monthly fee is something I’m definitely not going to pass up.

But beyond that, Apple made the experience enjoyable in its typical fashion. Just having all of this content is one thing, but the reading experience is worthwhile, as are the beautiful images. Especially when they move and grab your attention. The layout is great, and so is navigating from one story to the next. It’s all quick and easy. It just works. And it looks great while doing it.

I’m looking forward to using News+ more in the future and watching it as it learns about me, what I like to read, and offering up even more for me to consume.