iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur default to opening articles in the Apple News app vs. a browser

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macOS Big Sur and iOS 14, both currently in beta are set to debut to the public this fall. While both bring much-needed changes to the UI, it’s also bringing along with it an unwelcome behavior.

As pointed out by Tony Haile on Twitter, if you open a link from a publisher apart of Apple News+ in Safari, the article will open in the Apple News app on macOS Big Sur and iOS 14. As The Verge points out, if you open the same link in Chrome, it stays in Chrome, any other app and the link opens in Apple News+. The concern with the behavior around how the system opens the article depending on which browser or app you open it from is figuring out what metric macOS is using.

Dieter Bohn, the executive editor for The Verge reached out to Apple about the behavior and was provided the standard statement right-out of the handbook:

Apple is committed to creating the best experience for Apple News+ subscribers. This change offers subscribers seamless access to the content that is part of their News+ subscription right in the News app or publisher app, as well as providing publishers with increased engagement and revenue opportunities on Apple News. News+ subscribers can set their link preference in their News settings.

Statement to The Verge from Apple

Bohn attempted to press his contact at Apple about how macOS knows which links should open where, but Apple declined to respond. The original source of the behavior, Tony Halie on Twitter which is also the CEO of Scroll, an Apple News competitor points out that by the system defaulting users to the Apple News app, publishers miss out on visits if they offer their own subscription model.

Many websites offer their own monthly or yearly price to access premium and exclusive content. Apple News+ provides users with one price, to access those premia and exclusive content from 100+ publishers. By redirecting users to Apple News+, publishers miss it on advertising for their own subscription and miss it on current subscribers actually using it.

There are three main possibilities that Bohn pointed out for this behavior. First, that Apple wants to get its Apple News+ metrics up, and by forcing users to the service, publishers will all of the sudden see an uptick in views, and remain.. This comes especially handy following The New York Times dropping out of the service, claiming it wasn’t helping them. Second, Apple simply wants to increase the usage of its own apps on the system. And third, Apple wants to cut back on browser usage which means less ads and less tracking, both follow suit in Apple’s tough stance on privacy.

Whatever the reason, at least Apple provides the option to toggle it off. The behavior is only present on Apple’s beta software, meaning it could change if concerns are loud enough prior to their debut this fall.

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Sami started falling in love with Apple in 2010 with the iPhone 4S. As a registered developer, he deeply admires the world of Apple. Sami is an aspiring journalist, writer, and actor. He also has devoted his life to sharing his passion and knowledge with others around the world.