Apple News app may add a subscription service

Apple is working to make subscription content available through its iOS News app (has attracted more than 100 publishing partners worldwide since launching last September), giving publishers with paywalls a new way to control who sees their articles, reports Reuters, quoting two unnamed “sources familiar with the matter.”

The article adds that this would differentiate Apple News from Facebook's Instant Articles news offering, which does not offer subscriber-only content, and “would likely give Apple a boost as it seeks to distinguish itself from a growing crowd of online news apps.” Reuters notes that it’s unclear how Apple would authenticate subscribers or if it would take a cut of payments from readers who become subscribers through the app

Subscriber-only publications that work with News now can either share their articles for free or just share excerpts of articles and direct readers to log on to their own websites for more. For example, The Wall Street Journal, which has a paywall for most of its content, posts a handful of articles a day to News.

News compiles articles you've expressed interest in from several sites.  Stories are pulled from a range of sources, from top news organizations to indie publications. Stories are chosen for you based on what you like to read. Apple says that the more you use News, the better it gets at picking out just what you’ll want to see. Apple allows publishers to keep 100% of revenue when they sell their own ads into the app; they keep 70% of ad revenue if Apple sells ads on their behalf.

Earlier this month it was reported by The Wall Street Journal ( that neither media companies nor Apple know how many people are reading. However, Apple has mistakenly has been underestimating the number of readers using the News app since its launch, and passing that inaccurate information on to publishers, according to the WSJ.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, told the publication that the company missed the error as it focused on other aspects of the product. The company didn’t explain how the problem occurred or say exactly when it might be rectified.

“We’re in the process of fixing that now, but our numbers are lower than reality,” he told the WSJ. “We don’t know what the right number is,” but he added that it was better to undercount than overcount traffic.