At its Worldwide Developer Conference earlier this month, Apple announced its News app, a new Flipboard-style news-reader with a strong emphasis on rich multimedia experiences. Apple has begun hiring editors for its News platform, which will not rely solely on algorithms to serve up news stories, but which will also employ human curation.
The new app will form part of the iOS 9 release later this year, but Apple is now lining up publishers ready for its launch. However, the company has already attracted criticism for how it's going about this.
As BBC News reports, Apple has been contacting publishers with 'unsolicited emails' inviting them to join its upcoming News service. In order to be on Apple News, publishers must accept the company's terms and conditions for the service - but rather than present this as an agreement to which each publisher must sign up, Apple is instead presuming that those firms will agree by default.
Indeed, a line in the email states that any publishers who don't wantto be bound by the terms and conditions must explicitly opt out of them.
Some publishers have criticized Apple for this approach - and given the unavoidable reality that emails sometimes end up in junk mail boxes, and others just get deleted before they're read in any great detail, some publishers are concerned by the prospect of being expected to adhere to Apple's terms and conditions without even having seen them.
In a blog post entitled 'I Do Not Agree To Your Terms', developer Mike Ash highlighted one part of the agreement, for example, which requires the publisher to cover Apple - potentially including financial compensation - if any of that publisher's content on Apple News is targeted by legal action:
"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."
Another section permits Apple to place advertising within and alongside publishers' content without having to share any ad revenues with them.
However, while these terms may sound a little unfair to some, they're actually said to be fairly standard for this kind of agreement. But what's really got some people fired up is the presumption that all publishers agree by default with the terms and conditions for Apple News, unless they explicitly tell Apple that they opt out.
Mike Ash articulated these sentiments in his post:
Let me get this straight, Apple: you send me an email outlining the terms under which you will redistribute my content, and you will just assume that I agree to your terms unless I opt out?
You're going to consider me bound to terms you just declared to me in an email as long as I don't respond? That's completely crazy. You don't even know if I received the email!
Apple has so far refused to comment on the matter.