Apple is planning to expand its News service to provide subscription content through the iOS 9 News app, Reuters reports. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the report notes that the aim would be to give publishers with paywalls a way to limit access to their content, and would help to distinguish Apple’s offering from other online news apps and services such as Facebook’s Instant Articles. The move may address concerns raised by publishers, which cannot ignore Apple’s hundreds of millions of users, while at the same time preferring to still connect directly with readers. Making paid content available through the iOS News app would allow publishers to maintain relationships with their existing reader base and possibly attract new subscribers, although it’s still unclear at this time how Apple plans to authenticate subscribers or whether it would take its usual cut of subscription payments, as the company did with its prior Newsstand system.
As things currently stand, there is no way to charge for content published through Apple News, and subscriber-only publications who wish to work with the service are basically limited to regularly posting only a small selection of full articles, or publishing only excerpts that redirect subscribers to the publisher’s own web site via Safari. Publishers have been “frustrated with the lack of information” they receive from Apple about who is reading their content (a recent report noted that Apple was giving “inaccurate information” to publishers), and Apple’s move into supporting a subscription model is said to be primarily about addressing these concerns about a lack of reader data.