Bits and Bobs: June 16

Apple News. This week, Apple sent out welcome letters to its initial Apple News participants, offering no-revenue, opt-out-only participation in the program.

We are excited to introduce News, an all-new app for iPhone and iPad coming with iOS 9. News delivers stories from the best sources, beautifully designed, and selected just for you. We believe your RSS feeds feature great content, and we think Apple customers will agree. We are offering our many millions of users the opportunity to discover [your site] by including your RSS feeds in News:

The initial release will bundle third party RSS feed content without compensation. Apple will place ads near feeds but will not share revenue. Fortunately, there’s another option on the way.

A revenue option arrives a little further down the line when Apple introduces its Apple News format which will include iAd integration. That will offer a 70/30 revenue split and Apple will sell the iAd content on your behalf. (You can also bring your own and keep 100%)

Hopefully a WordPress plug-in will make this easy enough so things aren’t just a matter of “Oh look, Apple is scraping my RSS” for very long.

With “regrets-only” participation, Apple sent along instructions on how to withdraw from Apple News. Also, the company will not immunize you for any content that gets you into hot water. They promise to forward any take-down notices to your attention.

• You agree to let us use, display, store, and reproduce the content in your RSS feeds including placing advertising next to or near your content without compensation to you. Don’t worry, we will not put advertising inside your content without your permission.
• You confirm that you have all necessary rights to publish your RSS content, and allow Apple to use it for News as we set forth here. You will be responsible for any payments that might be due to any contributors or other third parties for the creation and use of your RSS content.
• If we receive a legal claim about your RSS content, we will tell you so that you can resolve the issue, including indemnifying Apple if Apple is included in the claim.
You can remove your RSS feed whenever you want by opting out or changing your settings in News Publisher.

I’m sort of caught between excitement and eye-rolling. Let’s see how this pans out. It could be great. It could be not great.

Voice Dream. Winston Chen writes to tell me about the new Voice Dream Mail app. It lets you “triage your inbox” without looking at your iPhone screen.

[Voice Dream Mail] reads your email out loud using text-to-speech. And you control it by tapping and swiping anywhere on the screen. For example, swipe right to skip to the next email. That means you’ll be able to triage your inbox very quickly without ever looking at the screen. It’s an example of a “born accessible” product: commuters can use it without taking their eyes off the road, and people with visual impairment and dyslexia can do email using a natural and highly efficient interface.

I love hands-free and accessibility-friendly development. Winston mentions that the Voice Dream team is starting a beta test for their Play Store version of Voice Dream Reader for Android. Ping if you’d like to participate.

Paid for Stripe. Paid for Stripe is now at end of life and developer Ryan Scherf has a terrific write-up over on his website about the rise and fall of this third party app. Among lessons learned, he writes “Paid just couldn’t keep up with the way it was built.” Go read the whole post.

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