At the end of June, some people using the iOS 14 beta noticed that they were being guided through a paywall to the News app for outlets that are included in an Apple News+ subscription. It turns out, the feature also works on macOS Big Sur.

Apple News+ Intercepting Links on iOS and macOS Big Sur

A quick recap on how it works – tap on a link to the Wall Street Journal, for example, and, instead of hitting a paywall on the outlet’s website, your device recognizes you are an Apple News+ subscriber and takes you directly to the article within the app. The setting is reportedly turned on by default but can be switched off. Personally, as an Apple News+ subscriber, I think this is great. It makes using my subscription easier and I can always turn it off if I don’t like it. Some though, seem to be less than impressed:

Convenience for Publications and Users Alike

Clearly, there are some chinks to work out too. That’s why there’s beta testing, right? For instance, Techcrunch’s Anthony Ha noticed that all his publication’s content went to the News app, not just the premium articles included with an Apple News+ subscription. In a statement, Apple told him:

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.

[Apple News+: All The Publications Available With a Subscription]

On this occasion, I’m happy to go along with what the company said. I do not see this as a gross privacy violation for users, nor an infringement to publication. The features make it easier for users to access a service they are paying for, and likely means that publications who are signed up to Apple News+ will get more visitors to their content there, making it more worthwhile for them too. A win-win, surely?

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I can remember a time when most all Apple users were up in arms about Microsoft automatically setting up Internet Explorer as the default browser on Windows. But now that it’s Apple doing the same thing it’s all hunky-dory? Similarly, it was all smart and leading edge when Barack Obama used Facebook and Twitter data to target prospective voters in 2008 and 2012, but it was evil and duplicitous when Trump and Cambridge Analytica did the same thing in 2016. I don’t like being manipulated by anyone, particularly political candidates and way-too-cocky corporations, but the double standard is obvious and… Read more »