It was an instant attraction.
Or, at least, the idea of it was.
Here was something that was almost painfully gorgeous and potentially even entertaining. And how long is it since you felt something like that about an Apple product?
The minute I witnessed Apple News Plus on my iPad Pro, I was mesmerized by the design. The layouts were dramatic and stylish. The abundance of content made me imagine days spent scrolling from one beautiful picture to the next, occasionally stopping to read actual words.
It wasn’t hard to hand over my $10 a month, in the belief that this would be my refuge from a daily life of news, hype, memes, tweets and trolls. And that was just the emissions of the U.S. government.
At its launch, Cupertino called Apple News Plus “an immersive magazine and news reading experience.” I should have realized right then that this relationship may not be built to last.
We all claim to want immersion. Too often, our minds are now trained to offer minimal attention and maximum instant absorption. We spend our online reading lives as if we’re listening to elevator pitches from cocaine-fueled twenty-somethings, desperate for our attention.
Our eyes dart this way and that, seeking excitement and solace in equal measure, with both being needed right now.
Apple News Plus was the vacation we could never give ourselves. It was a promise of deep relaxation that seemed alien to the digital world as it was constructed.
It was the online equivalent of the Economists that pile up next to my coffee table, meekly begging to be read. Or even opened. Times 300. That’s at least how many publications Apple News Plus contains. I felt like Cleopatra being fed far too many peeled grapes.
I soon realized that I hadn’t looked at Apple News Plus for weeks on end. When I remembered to look, it was still beautiful, but I couldn’t give it the time nor the patience. It was the lover with whom the timing just wasn’t right and, in your heart, you know it never will be.
It’s true that its content was a touch varied. For every gorgeous piece that took at least five whole minutes to read, there were other stories that looked as if they’d been cobbled together at the inception of the web. And it somehow fell into a hole between being magazine-y and current.
With so many choices, I didn’t know where to start. Which drove me to not starting at all.
Yes, it only cost a couple of Starbucks Almond Milk Lattes a month. But I simply didn’t go there. I forgot it existed. So I said goodbye.
It seems I wasn’t alone. This week, the executive in charge of Apple News Plus, Liz Schimel, left the company. Related to her departure seems to be Apple’s reluctance to declare how many people bought subscriptions. And how many still have them.
If you’re not a video game or a Game Of Thrones, it’s very hard to get people immersed these days. It’s also very hard to get them to keep coming back when their noses are permanently buried in Instagram, Facebook and their kids’ TikTok.
Perhaps Apple News Plus tried to be a lot of things to a lot of people and ended up being very little to too many. Perhaps the solution is, as some have rumored, to bundle Apple News Plus with Apple Music and Apple TV Plus.
Even then, how often would people go to Apple News Plus? Our time is so precious, yet we’re very good at wasting it.
Somehow, Apple News Plus didn’t offer a really good place for me to do even that.