Even if you aren’t playing around with iOS 14 or macOS Big Sur yet, there’s one setting you want to know if you’re an Apple News+ subscriber. That’s because starting with iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur, web links to news stories that you tap or click will pull up said stories in Apple News+, rather than the publisher’s site.
This “feature” only applies to publishers participating in Apple News+, but it’s a bit of a jarring takeover by Apple’s app. While it’s not uncommon for various websites to reroute links to their apps whenever possible, or at least ask you if you’d like to launch the associated app instead of the web-based content you’re trying to access, Apple’s implementation in iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur sends you right to the News app. And, as far as I can tell, this behaviour is enabled by default.
To disable it in iOS 14 — because you’d rather continue visiting a publisher’s website than launch that same content in Apple’s app — you’ll want to visit Settings > News. In there, look for the “Open Web Links in News” option and turn it off:
And if you don’t want to deal with that same treatment on macOS Big Sur, you’ll want to launch the News app and pull up its preferences via the News menu in your menu bar. You’ll see this screen:
Uncheck that box if you’d prefer to keep your web browsing distanced from your News reading.
Apple’s implementation of this redirection isn’t perfect. As Dieter Bohn writes for The Verge:
“I do find the behaviour a little weird. If you click a link in Safari, it opens Apple News. If you click a link in Chrome, it stays in Chrome. If you click a link in some other app like Slack, it opens in Apple News — even if your default browser is Chrome. That’s odd simply because it’s not clear how Big Sur knows that it should redirect some websites but not others. Is it checking in with a pre-approved list of participating publisher sites (if so, at least it’s offline)? Is that list stored locally or is it checking in with Apple? Whatever the answer, the point is that what happens when you click a link is inconsistent. Maybe it opens a browser, maybe it opens Apple News.”
Of course, there’s also one big benefit to keeping these options enabled. If you subscribe to Apple News+, but not news websites individually, then clicking on stories hosted on sites that use a paywall should instead pull up the full article in Apple’s apps, rather than send you to a “log in here!” or “sorry, subscribers only” prompt.
Still, is this a bit of an overreach by Apple? I’ll be curious to see what people think once the final versions iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur launch for everyone.
Regardless, Apple News is making a big move to move user behavior from a web that they don't control to an app where they do. Will be fascinating to see how the industry reacts.
— Tony Haile (@arctictony) August 10, 2020