Weekly output: Apple’s history of trying to help journalism

Although I did not show up for the Nationals’ home opener Thursday–making that only the second time since the team came to D.C. that I haven’t been in the stands for their first home game of the season–my family and I did get to Nats Park today to see the Nats break their losing streak. It’s good to have baseball back.

3/25/2019: Apple is trying to be the future of news. Again., The Washington Post

I reminded Post readers of some earlier times when Apple was going to offer journalism a way out of its business-model malaise: iPad apps, the iOS Newsstand, and the Apple News app. Beyond pointing out how poorly Newsstand and Apple News have served journalism as a business, this exercise allowed me to take a whack at all the hype the Post and too many other news organizations ladled out over The Daily, News Corp.’s doomed venture into iPad publishing.

Sharing stories from Apple News considered harmful

Last Tuesday, Google delivered some news that open-Web advocates have long awaited: Stories posted in the speedy, Google-developed Accelerated Mobile Pages format and served up via its even-faster caching service won’t zap onto the screens of mobile devices at google.com addresses, not the domain name of their publisher.

The avoidable but common facet of the AMP experience has bothered me since my early encounters with Google’s attempt to make the mobile Web less janky–it led the explainer I wrote for Yahoo two years ago. Google is now moving to fix the problem it helped create, which is welcome news in any publishing format.

(Specifically, Google will adopt a new page-packaging standard to preserve site domain names. In last Tuesday’s post, AMP project tech lead Malte Ubl says we should start seeing the results on our phones in the second half of this year.)

This, however, leaves another address-eating annoyance on the mobile Web: Apple News. This iOS app is a pleasant way to browse and read stories; like the open-source AMP, this proprietary format cuts out the cruft that can clog mobile reading.

But when you tap its “Share” button, Apple News serves up an apple.news address. And unlike even Googled-up AMP addresses, this one offers no hint after the domain name of where you’ll go.

The text Apple News pre-populates in a tweet or Facebook update–the story headline, an em-dash, and then the publication name–does. But on Twitter and Facebook, many people decide to replace that text with their own words, leaving users to guess what’s behind that apple.news address.

Apple appears to be doing this to ensure that other iOS users can read the story you shared in Apple News as well–its developer documentation even lists a story’s canonical address as a “not required” bit of metadata. But in the context of a button that can share a story on the public Web, that’s an absurd inversion of priorities.

Apple could fix this by coding Apple News to share a story’s original address when available, perhaps with an identifier to tell iOS devices to open it in Apple News. But knowing this company, I wouldn’t expect that any sooner than the arrival of a reborn Mac mini at my neighborhood’s Apple Store.

Instead, you’ll have to solve this problem yourself. If you’re sharing a story from Apple News, keep some reference to the publisher in your description. If that would cramp your social-media style, please take a moment to tap the share sheet’s “Open in Safari” button–then share the story from that browser, from whence it will have its real address.

Weekly output: Hackable “IoT” devices (x2), AMP, Tech Night Owl

I’m taking a week off from my USA Today column, this being a month that would have had me writing five Sunday pieces instead of the usual four. That ends a streak that had started in late 2011–but was probably never going to get close to the 566-week run of weekly Washington Post column-ization that lasted from September of 1999 through July of 2010.

yahoo-finance-hackable-iot-post10/20/2016: Hackers could use your smart home devices to launch web attacks, Yahoo Finance

This column benefited from some extraordinarily fortuitous timing: The day after it ran, unknown attackers used hacked “Internet of Things” gadgets to launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against the domain-name-service firm Dyn that left large chunks of the Internet inaccessible through much of Friday.

10/22/2016: How Google is remaking the mobile web, Yahoo Finance

A co-worker suggested I write about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative, and that turned out to be a good idea. I don’t think Google realizes the level of annoyance some readers feel over seeing news stories served from a google.com cache, but I doubt this post alone will lead to any sudden enlightenment in Mountain View.

10/22/2016: October 22, 2016 — Rob Pegoraro and Jeff Gamet, Tech Night Owl

I talked about the long wait for Apple to ship some new Macs, my experience so far with macOS Sierra, WikiLeaks, Google’s Pixel phones, and a few other things.

10/22/2016: Consumer News with Michael Finney, KGO

I spent about 10 minutes talking to Finney about the risks posed by easily-hacked IoT devices. In a fit of blatant pandering to distant listeners, I compared DDoS attacks to traffic jams on the Bay Bridge’s toll plaza.

Weekly output: mobile news apps

SAN FRANCISCO–For whatever reason, this weekend’s USA Today column didn’t post, leaving me with an embarrassing total of one story to my name for the week. Meanwhile, I find myself once again at my favorite West Coast travel destination, the reason this time being that I’m moderating a panel on a post-cable future of video content at the telecom trade group Comptel’s conference. (The organizers are covering my airfare and two night’s lodging; my regular editors said that was okay.)

Yahoo Tech mobile-news post10/13/2015: Mobile News Apps Offer More Convenience But Less Choice, Yahoo Tech

This column is the latest in an on-and-off series of stories I’ve written about a post-print future of news–see, for instance, my recent Yahoo post about ad blocking, or this 2011 Post column about Apple demanding 30 percent of news apps’ subscription revenue. I’m generally happy with how this column turned out but not my treatment of Twitter’s Moments feature; for a more thought-out take on it, I’ll point you to Mark Glaser’s post at Digital Content Next.