Creating an Apple News API to Help a Leading Media Company Reach a Wider Audience

Executive Summary

Our customer, a large media company based in the United States, wanted to leverage Apple News to increase its ad and subscription revenue while providing a better experience for its users. 

While the Wizeline team inherited pre-existing, functional software from the customer, there were many opportunities for improvement. To start, we created an API service that generates Apple News format-compatible articles published live through Apple’s APIs. Our team refactored the code and software documentation, developed the API solution, and rolled out new article components that dramatically improved the reader’s user experience.

Since working with Wizeline, the customer has seen tremendous growth in all Apple News metrics. Here’s a summary of the year-over-year results:

  • 312% increase in Apple News-generated overall revenue
  • 92% increase in ad revenue from Apple News
  • 87% increase in our customer’s site traffic from Apple News
  • 11% increase in our customer’s subscriptions from Apple News

Read more to see how we made this possible.

Identifying Key Challenges & Requirements

The inherited project responsible for integrating our customer’s content in Apple News did not follow good code quality, structure, and documentation standards, making it challenging for the team to ramp up.

One of the main issues with the client’s existing Apple News API was that the source of information — the mobile article translation service — was developed with native apps (Android/iOS) and their component support in mind. Since the Apple News platform has a different technology stack and way of rendering components, the team’s reliance on this service was a blocker. Any change to this service would affect article processing on mobile apps and could cause a failure or create unexpected/unwanted components. Wizeline identified this unnecessary link between the native apps and Apple News, recognizing that the best option would be for Apple News to follow its processing pipeline. 

During this stage, our customer’s team also identified various business rules for the Apple News API project, including the logic on templates, sections (i.e., Business, World, Top News), channels (different publications), choosing between free or paid articles, and whether or not to display automatic notifications for editors via Slack.

Refactoring the Product to Unlock Simplicity & Efficiency

Wizeline initiated the project by making various improvements to the Apple News API codebase. To support better code quality, our team added Linter and Prettier code formatting to the project to standardize the coding style and avoid any typos/bugs. We also increased the test cases and added an automatic deployment process on branch merge. Furthermore, the team enhanced the project documentation by creating pull request templates, adding release notes to every release since taking over the project, and improving and keeping up to date with the main project README file. 

Another major initiative in the project was adding a database to register and better handle the articles published through the API. Along with this change, we removed a big portion of the Apple News API that was in charge of the publishing (communication with Apple’s API) and created a standalone project called Apple News Publisher, an API designed to publish already transformed Apple News-formatted articles. We did this to reduce the complexity and scope of the original project and, more importantly, to allow our customer’s team to post Apple News articles directly using the Apple News Publisher API whenever they have an article ready to go without the need of going through the transformation process.

Our customer uses a one-off special format to create articles. With the publishing API as a standalone product, teams can post directly to Apple News channels without asking Apple to perform a manual upload through iCloud services. Separating the Apple News Publisher API from the original project enabled our customer to publish specially formatted articles without being tied to the standard transformation logic. 

One more significant improvement was to change the approach from article templates to components. The original API was building articles based on a Dust template, which made it hard to execute small changes, for example, when a new template had to be created to apply a headline style change for a new article type. The Wizeline team created the Apple News components library to drive a more modern approach where teams can generate Apple News format components based on metadata such as the article and publication type. This change reduced the scope of the Apple News API once again, leaving the responsibility of styling to another project. As a result, the client’s Apple News API now uses the components library as a dependency to transform the raw article data.

Finally, we needed to eliminate the main blocker preventing our customer from ultimately optimizing its Apple News integration: the mobile article translation service. This service lacked support and generated responses in XML format, which is not a natural format to process with a Node-based API. As a solution, the Wizeline team migrated to a newer internal article service providing a modern approach with neutral (not platform-specific) data in the JSON format. This change completely redefined the Apple News API, making it an elegant, simplified solution whose main task was to transform data from JSON articles to the JSON Apple News format. This gave the Wizeline team the chance to restructure and rethink how we wanted to process the data and substantially improve the code quality.

Transforming the Apple News User Experience With New Components

The Wizeline team’s work on the back-end and data side of the software enabled us to develop new components and visual strategies to substantially improve the branded look and feel of the news channels and increase users’ time spent on the articles. Here’s a quick list of some components we developed, most of which were not supported by the Apple News API before: 

Series Navigation: Wizeline designed and implemented related articles modules allowing users to recirculate inside the channel. Editors can specify the content of the modules within an internal CMS.

Theme Navigation: Wizeline designed and implemented the theme navigation ribbon containing essential articles related to a specific topic (e.g., COVID, the Olympic Games). Editors use an internal CMS to provide the list of articles. 

Video Article: Video articles required the design and implementation of a new template and a collaboration with the video team to add their articles to our pipeline.

Live Coverage: In collaboration with the Live Coverage team from Wizeline, we developed breaking news articles with rapid updates. These articles are generally updated multiple times during the day using the Live Coverage CMS.

Audio Component: This component integrates with Apple Podcasts to keep the user within the ecosystem. 

Table Component: This component was added as a native Apple News data table, allowing users to scroll through the data.

Tappable Article: Tappables are special articles created in an internal CMS. This project was a significant effort from the team to allow differently formatted interactive articles requiring a special Vanilla JS, HTML, and CSS bundle.

Collection Article: Collections are a particular type of article only existing in Apple News that allows editors to create a group of other articles related to a specific topic. This required the Wizeline team to create the components for the feature in an internal CMS.

Glider Article: Gliders are unique articles created in an internal CMS that render with a special stacking effect while the user scrolls through it.

Tiles: Tiles are special article sections linked back to our customer’s website to increase subscriptions through the main site. Examples of these tiles are conversation, newsletter, and subscription tiles.

The Result: Increased Apple News User Engagement & Revenue for Our Customer

Combining Wizeline’s technical expertise with our understanding of how Media & Entertainment ad and subscription revenue business models work, Wizeline was able to provide the following year-over-year business results for our customer:

  • 312% increase in Apple News-generated overall revenue
  • 92% increase in ad revenue from Apple News
  • 87% increase in our customer’s site traffic from Apple News
  • 11% increase in our customer’s subscriptions from Apple News

Wizeline continues to partner with the customer to optimize its proprietary technologies and build new digital solutions. To learn more about how Wizeline could help your media company reach new audiences and increase revenue, contact us today at

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