September has rolled around once again, bringing with it the annual release of bigger, shinier, pricier stuff from the Apple factory.

The rumour mill has been grinding furiously for months since Apple’s conference in June, but publishers hoping for some long-awaited clarity about the release of Apple News or its editor, Apple News Format, were disappointed.

Back in June, Apple stated that News would be pre-installed on iOS 9 devices. The reality now is that iOS 9 will be released on September 16th, but with no hint or announcement from Apple about how publishers can get involved or how they can control the appearance of their content on devices*.

All in all, this seems to be a bit of a shambles. Douglas Hebbard at Talking New Media has written an interesting ‘Impressions’ piece at the bottom of his report of the Apple Event – it’s worth a read for honest lines like “the piss poor roll-out of the Apple News app has me convinced that Apple is not looking to be a partner with publishers in the same way it had in the past.” We’re not entirely convinced that native apps will really work out for publishers, but that’s another story.

There was one potentially interesting release from the Apple Event, despite the demo avoiding any publisher involvement at all.

iPad Pro

Just as you thought you’d got publishing to the iPad sussed, Apple have announced the release of a bigger beast. This jeopardises every iPad-only magazine with those fixed dimensions designers like so much. Announcements like this make it even more necessary to have magazine content in a responsive HTML format, so magazines and content can seamlessly adapt to larger or smaller screen sizes.

Ironically, a tablet this size would be perfect for those awful PDF replicas that we love to hate: no more pinch-and-zoom on a screen that’s…well…magazine-sized! Will it take off? Some have argued that the high price point (£520 to £702) will prevent any mass take-up, but whether it reinvigorated iPad sales will remain to be seen.

Sean Briggs, an independent publishing consultant at Creative Workflows, pointed out that the iPad pro makes resizable content all the more important.

“This was innovation, finesse but ultimately evolution of the existing Apple product lines. There is however a clear indication that content will be called upon to fit an increasingly diverse range of screen sizes. Everything from the Apple watch through the iPad pro to the 4k TVs. Content will be called upon to entertain and inform on all screens.

Publishers have the quality and quantity of content and by adopting article-based publishing they will be able to deliver adaptive editorial into all these emerging markets. Better still it doesn’t have to be periodical publishing versus continuous; article-based publishing will allow both to exist side by side ensuring publishers reach the widest possible digital audiences. It’s going to be an exciting year for those that can adapt and evolve.”

Apple’s Event was a disappointing evening for the publishing industry, but we’ll keep our ears to the ground and report any more Apple News-related announcements as soon as they’re released.

* Apple has got a selection of ‘approved’ publishers on board, but any others hoping to learn about how to get their content in there have been left high and dry. We have a solution to this that can also push out to Facebook and more – get in touch with us to find out more.

We’ll be leading another Tech Talk at the PPA HQ at 12:30pm on September 24th, bringing publishers back around the table to look at other developments. To attend this free event, book via the PPA website.

View our report from the first Tech Talk here, summarising the notes from the roundtable discussion with publishers.

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