How to publish to Apple News from any CMS

August 30, 2023

Apple News has been around since September 2015. Subsequently, it has grown to become one of the most popular and trusted sources of news. It’s even outcompeting the BBC as the most popular news app in the UK. 

With its slick native format and predilection for credible journalism, it’s little surprise that over 145 million monthly active readers trust Apple News. That’s why it has become a top priority for publishers looking to expand their readership to get their content on the app. 

There are a few ways to start delivering content to Apple News – some more complicated than others – so we’re going to explain how you can gain access to Apple News and integrate any content management system to start publishing to the app.

How to gain access to Apple News

To begin this process, the first thing you need to do is sign up to News Publisher and create a channel. News Publisher is the iCloud application for publishing articles to Apple News. And channels in News Publisher represent your publications. So if you’re a media organisation with multiple titles, you’ll be managing multiple channels.

While it’s possible to create your own News Publisher account, you’ll need to wait for Apple to approve your application. This can take some time. They want to ensure every publication on the app matches their ethos of being credible and trustworthy to ensure misinformation doesn’t creep onto the platform. 

However, as FlatPlan work directly with Apple, we have experience in putting forward a case for publishers to join Apple News when they start working with us. We can also fast-track your application too. This should be straightforward if you’re a major media organisation that is already widely revered. Get in touch with FlatPlan to get started.

Furthermore, if you’ve previously been accepted onto Apple News but you're delivering to a limited ‘RSS’ channel or your account has gone stale (the integration is broken and hasn’t been publishing to Apple News for a while), FlatPlan can help you revive your account and get you published again.

Once you’ve created your News Publisher account and had your application approved by Apple, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of integrating your CMS with Apple News.

How to integrate any CMS with Apple News

Integrating your CMS with Apple News requires a deep understanding of the platform, its native article format, and the relationship between your CMS and Apple News.

There are three ways to start publishing to Apple News: 

  • A bespoke build that you set up, manage and maintain yourself
  • Install and maintain plugins 
  • Have FlatPlan handle everything including the build, ongoing maintenance and aftercare. 

Let’s begin with the bespoke build where you manage everything yourself.

How to create a bespoke Apple News integration

To create your own bespoke integration you’ll need to learn how to build articles in Apple News Format, how to use the Apple News API, and how to build and maintain your Apple News channel. This method requires development expertise and can take significant time to get set up so it’s best to familiarise yourself with the Apple News documentation.

You can get the Apple News API in the following 2 ways:

  • Download the Apple News API Client Utility (a Ruby Gem). Follow the setup instructions in the ‘ReadMe’ file.
  • Use the Apple News REST API. You’ll need to write code to integrate the Apple News API with your content management system (CMS).

You also need to verify your channel security information with the following information. 

  • Channel name
  • Channel ID
  • API Key ID
  • API Key Secret

If you don’t have the information, here are the instructions to find them.

The Apple News API delivers Apple News Format articles into the news app. You’ll need to recreate all your articles in Apple News Format – a proprietary format that Apple News uses to display stories on the app natively. This format is what gives Apple News its slick aesthetics while allowing content to load quickly and provides in-article advertising opportunities for publishers.

You may need to create a variety of templates in this way to match all the different article layouts you use on your site. This might include using different branded headers for each category, accommodating bullet point summaries or recreating any design motifs you use in your article designs. It’s essential to ensure your content on Apple News looks exactly like it does on your website to maintain brand consistency as you’ll want to avoid jarring experiences when readers click through from Apple News to your site.

To reproduce an article in Apple News Format, you need to start by creating a JSON document file. This will contain the code that details the layout of your article, what content it consists of and controls its overall look. This is then processed and rendered as an article in Apple News.

You’ll need to consider all the different content formats you use on your website like social embeds, quiz embeds, image galleries, audio articles and videos. Apple News doesn't accept Javascript embeds or iframes and has limited support for podcast embeds, data tables, interactive graphics and HTML5 video. These all need to be set up to work in Apple News and tested thoroughly to ensure readers don’t see broken media or disjointed content.

Apple News is responsive and works across a range of devices including iPhones, iPads, laptops and desktop Macs. The variety of viewports available means you’ll need to develop your templates and layouts to display properly in all of them. So you’ll need to understand automatic resizing on Apple News and plan your layouts accordingly as well as position content appropriately, such as coding for text wrapping around pull quotes and images. You also need to build and test stories in light mode and dark mode to ensure text colours, logos and graphics show correctly when colours are inverted.

As you can tell, there’s a lot to consider. The integration becomes even more involved if you’ve got a variety of article layouts or multimedia elements to implement. Therefore, thoroughly QA testing your integration is essential.

It’s also important to note that your Apple News integration isn’t a one-and-done setup. Whenever Apple News Format or the Apple News API are updated you'll need to bring your integration up to date, and add support for all new components. And if you end up changing CMS or completely redesigning your website, you’ll need to go through this process again. 

This is why major publishers trust FlatPlan to manage the entire setup and ongoing maintenance for them. But more on that later. Next up, we’ll show you how plugins can help you deliver content to Apple News.

In a nutshell:

  • Get access to Apple News API.
  • Verify channel security information.
  • Recreate all article layouts as templates in Apple News Format.
  • Pull in all the necessary content components such as fonts, colourways, and design motifs.
  • Recreate any other components you have in your articles such as article summaries, Read More links, and pull quotes.
  • Ensure multimedia elements such as iframes, Javascript embeds, data tables, podcast embeds, audio articles, videos, interactive graphics, and maps display correctly in Apple News Format
  • Ensure your responsive layouts work in all viewports and that content is being automatically resized appropriately.
  • Carry out comprehensive testing of all templates, formats and media to ensure your articles on Apple News look exactly like they do on your website and meet Apple’s quality standards.
  • Continue to test for a few weeks to ensure your delivery is stable.
  • Build a system to detect delivery issues.
  • Train your team on how to maintain article build and delivery.
  • Ensure any future updates to your website are replicated in Apple News.

How to use a CMS plugin to publish to Apple News

Plugins can be a simple way to modify Content Management Systems to handle tasks. Apple News plugins are available for WordPress, Craft CMS and Drupal. As plugins are designed to make it easy for users to do things without needing development knowledge, they tend to be quite basic. This can cause issues with a platform as complex as Apple News.

While a plugin can take the body of content in your articles and push it to Apple News, no plugins currently allow custom layouts, brand fonts or publication branding. This can lead to your Apple News articles looking very similar to others or readers not knowing which publisher they’re reading from entirely. 

We’ve seen first-hand with FlatPlan publishers that the power of Apple News is leveraging it to reach new audiences and then funnelling those readers back to their website where they can utilise first-party data strategies. If your channel lacks branding and is difficult to determine who the publisher is, how can reader loyalty be nurtured? Furthermore, the absence of essential conversion mechanisms means Apple News isn’t being used to its full effect.

Also, plugins may not detect when you make updates to your article layouts and therefore require just as much ongoing support and maintenance as a bespoke build. This is further exacerbated by a lack of support for multimedia elements such as iframes, Javascript embeds, data tables, podcast embeds and many others. 

Using a plugin for your Apple News integration doesn’t allow you to forget the setup once it’s done. Thorough testing is still needed to ensure all types of articles are being delivered correctly.

To get your Apple News plugin working well, developers often have to hack it, at which point, they may as well learn to integrate your CMS with Apple News properly using the Apple News API. 

Many publishers have come to FlatPlan to discuss inconsistencies in their Apple News plugin. Quite often, the plugins will only correctly deliver certain article layouts while struggling with others. That’s why we only provide fully managed integrations where we create templates for all types of articles while providing ongoing maintenance to ensure your integration is 100% stable.

So without further ado, let’s move on to our recommended Apple News integration.

In a nutshell:

  • Find the right Apple News plugin for your CMS.
  • Test it to see how and what it pushes from your website to Apple News.
  • Get your development team to hack the plugin to ensure article layouts display correctly.
  • The plugin may need further hacking to make multimedia elements such as iframes, Javascript embeds, data tables, and podcast embeds show correctly too.
  • Test thoroughly and check that all article elements are being delivered by the plugin.
  • Ensure you have resources dedicated to monitoring the delivery to ensure any future updates to your article layouts are being replicated by the plugin.

Use FlatPlan to build, manage and support your Apple News integration

As you may have gathered from the information above, integrating your CMS with Apple News is no small task. If you have the resources to learn about the process and manage the integration to ensure any future changes are replicated in Apple News, then that’s certainly a good alternative.

But if you want an experienced and knowledgeable team to manage everything for you, then the FlatPlan team can provide that for you. While it’s possible for your newly built team to gain this knowledge, this will take time. Whereas FlatPlan can get your Apple News channel up and running in two weeks.

Middle East Eye's Read More widget on Apple News
FlatPlan helps publishers pull in reader retention tools from their website such as Read More widgets.

Furthermore, as an Apple News preferred provider, we’re in direct contact with the team at Apple. Therefore, we can represent your publication and present a case to Apple to accept you on Apple News. Our relationship with Apple also allows us to make fixes and changes quicker than normal.

Once accepted, we work quickly to onboard you. Minimal input is needed as we handle the process independently. We only need input for brief building and approvals, therefore mitigating any need to regularly check in with your developers and disrupt your other projects. 

We tend to use your website as a cue for article designs, then ingest new and archive content, and rebuild each article element so it will appear exactly as required in Apple News. No matter how many design motifs you use on your website, the FlatPlan team can recreate them for you on your Apple News channel.

Formula 1's Apple News channel
Some publishers and brands, like Formula 1, have beautifully designed websites that help them stand out. This must be replicated well in Apple News to ensure brand consistency.

On top of getting your Apple News articles to look exactly the same as on your website, we can also recreate elements such as bullet point summaries, Read More widgets and any other reader engagement graphics. This also includes ensuring all your multimedia elements display correctly such as videos, data tables, podcast embeds, audio articles, commerce units and many more. No matter what it is, we’ll have a solution for you.

Once set up and delivering to Apple News, the FlatPlan team runs a comprehensive testing programme to ensure all article layouts are continually displaying correctly.

Grazia commerce unit
Publishers who sell products through affiliate links may use commerce units to help package up promotions in a more reader-friendly way. FlatPlan works with publishers so that these display correctly in Apple News.

FlatPlan also uses a range of automated checks that notify our team, as well as your editorial team, of any issues in delivery. This allows the FlatPlan team to quickly resolve any issues thus ensuring your implementation is stable and reliable. Quite often, the team can resolve issues before publishers even notice that an issue occurred.

If, in the future, you decide to update some of your article layouts or even change the tech stack behind your website, the FlatPlan team is on hand to provide full support to ensure your Apple News channel is unaffected. Last time we did this for HELLO! and allowed them to launch their newly created Apple News channel at the same time as their new website.

HELLO!'s Apple News channel
Conversion mechanisms and branded footers are just a couple of features that FlatPlan publishers can utilise on their Apple News channel.

FlatPlan also allows publishers to enhance their Apple News channel with conversion tools that help retain new readers or funnel them to owned properties where they can be converted with website registrations, newsletter sign-ups or any other first-party data strategy you might be using. 

This can be done with inline CTA buttons that sit within the body of the content, which engages readers while they are consuming your content. All FlatPlan publishers are also equipped with branded footers on all their articles. These help reinforce brand familiarity while also providing space for more key conversion goals.

In a nutshell:

  • FlatPlan handles everything for you.
  • We present a case to Apple for you to gain access to Apple News.
  • We build out your Apple News with as many article templates as you need while bringing in all necessary assets such as branded fonts, colourways and design motifs.
  • We recreate all reader engagement mechanisms such as Read More widgets and article summaries.
  • We ensure all multimedia elements such as videos, data tables, podcast embeds, audio articles, commerce units and many more are working correctly in Apple News.
  • Everything is comprehensively tested to ensure your integration is 100% stable. The team continues to monitor your channel to ensure any issues are ironed out quickly.
  • Your channel is then enhanced with reader retention and conversion mechanisms to help you build a loyal readership on Apple News and then funnel those engaged readers to your own properties for first-party data capture strategies.


So, there are three main ways to start delivering content to Apple News. It will be up to you to decide which is the correct way for your business. Due to Apple’s high standards, we think it’s essential to fully immerse yourself in the process.

When implemented with intent, Apple News represents a highly valuable opportunity for publishers. Not only does it allow publishers to reach a large and engaged audience, but it can also build brand awareness, nurture reader loyalty and then funnel those loyal readers back to owned environments where first-party data strategies can kick into action.

This is why it’s absolutely vital to ensure your Apple News integration is implemented comprehensively. It’s essential that readers know who you are when they land on your content, and it’s even more crucial that they know how to reach your website when they’ve become familiar with you. 

Apple News is a great platform to feed your audience development funnels, so it’s imperative that it’s been set up with the right tools to encourage readers to take that decisive next step when they begin engaging with your content.

This is why FlatPlan offers a fully managed service that looks after you from the initial build through to expert maintenance years down the road. If you want to get started and find out how we can help get your publication on Apple News, book a demo with our experienced team.

Next steps...

No matter what stage you're at in your discovery of Apple News, we'll help you get the information you need to make the right decision for your media business.

  1. Are you an existing Apple News publisher?
    Our expert team can audit your existing Apple News channel to ensure your integration is stable, determine how optimised your channel is, and provide recommendations that will help you make the most of your setup. Book a free audit now.
  2. Looking to integrate Apple News with your media business?
    Leading publishers use FlatPlan to grow their media business by leveraging the power of Apple News. With help from reader engagement tools, we help publishers reach new readers, nurture them into loyal followers and then funnel them to first-party data strategies on owned properties. Book a free consultation now.
  3. Still learning about Apple News?
    We're always providing insider knowledge and expert advice to our network of publishers. If you want to access that same material, head over to our Article pages, download our free Guide to Apple News eBook or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
  4. Know someone who might find this article useful? Share it via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social network you use.

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