Safari Smart Banners point to Apple News instead of publisher apps in iOS 14
Apple confirmed last month that it planned to intercept traffic heading to the websites of Apple News+ publishers by automatically redirecting users to the Apple News app on iPhone, iPad and Mac, forcing web users who had intended to read a story online to instead read it on the Apple News platform instead.
The plans were met with criticism from publishers, who saw the new iOS 14/macOS Big Sur feature as a threat that would reduce traffic to sites, therefor lowering ad revenue and the chances of a reader signing up directly to that publishers own subscription service.
As spotted by AppleInsider, with the latest iOS 14 developer beta Apple has made a change to the handling of Smart Banners in Safari, by now encouraging users to visit the Apple News app rather than downloading an Apple News+ publisher’s own third-party app from the App Store.
The report reads: “In the most up-to-date iOS 14 beta, the Smart App Banner API or Safari appears to detect News+ partner web domains, which triggers display of the modified promotional banner. Smart App Banner code on affected pages is unchanged, suggesting that it’s a change to the way Safari handles publisher URLs.”
Apple hasn’t confirmed if developers have the ability to control which banner appears to users.