Apple News has a notification spam problem

Lately, I’ve been diving deeper into Apple News – thanks to the recent addition of Apple News+ magazines, along with the recently-added “Open In Apple News” share sheet extension, it’s been my go-to source for a quick news digest, some longer reads, and now feature stories as well.

Plus, I’ve been using my old iPad Mini 2 to consume the news as a more focused and intentional usage of my devices, almost only ever using it for News and Books.

About three weeks ago I read Digital Minimalism, but then hadn’t touched the iPad Mini since (I just read News on my other devices). But when I picked up the device again to read How To Bored over this last weekend, I was met with this on the screen:

Page after page of Apple News notifications, all from sources I barely actually read and who were attempting to grab my attention every 15-30 minutes – my Apple News account was spamming me.

I have almost all of these notifications turned off on my other devices, but this just goes to show how bad the problem can easily become if you don’t deliberately manage this single app.

Not a single notification shown on my screen required any amount of urgency, even when marked BREAKING, and Apple even recommended a “lifestyle” story about a porn website.

For someone trying to reclaim my attention and focus from places like Twitter, I am finding myself fighting against the very application that’s supposed to help.

I am extremely surprised that Apple has created such a “trusted” medium for news organizations to spam us all day long, even more than Facebook would ever dare with notifications (though, rest assured, they’ve tried).

I really hope Apple takes another look at the core experience of the News app and how/when services are able to send notifications, hopefully moving beyond a simple on/off switch per channel. Because if we are to trust this application on a daily basis, it can’t be one of the most spammy apps out there.

The MacStories Review of iOS 12 (and Shortcuts)

Every year, it’s a staple in the Apple community to read Federico Vittici’s in-depth review of the latest version of iOS.

Federico has been running MacStories for years and always spends the summer drafting massive, book-length guides to the new changes that come to Apple’s iPhone and iPad software, quickly becoming the go-to place to pay attention when the new release drops.

This time, it’s very much the same, with Viticci publishing his entire review with 16 individual sections as pages (and 1 page for credits). Here’s the subhead introduction:

After years of unabated visual and functional changes, iOS 12 is Apple’s opportunity to regroup and reassess the foundation before the next big step – with one notable exception.

The review is also available as an eBook and audiobook for members of Club MacStories, their membership program that provides great newsletters with tons of Shortcuts ideas, links, and interviews. Members get the book free and the audiobook at 60% off, so now is better than ever to subscribe.

Now that Shortcuts is out I’m sure you won’t want to miss Federico’s work, so definitely consider joining if you have the means.

One of the major sections to look at is his coverage of Shortcuts, because he’s the OG in the space – I originally learned about Workflow because of Federico and his coverage is what brought me to work for the app, so at a certain point we all owe him for bringing a spotlight to this awesome technology.

His evangelism for the potential got all of us who knew about it excited and I’m sure influenced Apple’s decision to purchase our company, so, everyone go thank Federico!

Now excuse me while I keep reading because there’s no way I’ve read it at all just – will have to switch back and forth with Myke’s lovely voice filling my ears too as I do my own prep for the big day.

Sharing about Shortcuts: in audio and video form

With the imminent release of the Shortcuts app for iOS, I’ve been hard at work creating new ways to share with everyone.

After Workflow was acquired by Apple, I took a contract position covering support while the process transitioned to Apple Support. I didn’t want to leave the Workflow community hanging without someone to help with problems, and in my time there helped thousands of people with their workflows – and read every tweet about us.

I had joined the small team to help people learn how to use this thing, and once I saw them continue to update it I took a leap of faith and left early before I learned too much about the plans.

Seeing Shortcuts at WWDC was awesome and a wonderful confirmation that this app is the future of automation on iOS.

Plus, while I was there, I met Alex Cox and she kept telling me to make a podcast about it all. When she said she’d host it with me, I immediately said yes, and Supercomputer was born.

Since then we’ve recorded 5 episodes, introducing ourselves, talking about assistants, covering morning routines, prepping for travel, and now detailing Apple’s September 12 iPhone and Apple Watch event.

Next week we are covering Shortcuts as it’s available for everyone to use, and there will certainly be more intertwined in many episodes to come as it’s intertwined into how iOS works from here on out.

I’d love it if you would subscribe to the show and share it with others if you think if might be useful to them. Even if you use Overcast and Recommend it there (which id be extremely thankful for), Podcasts subscriptions drive the iTunes charts which ultimately get us more users through Apple’s recommendations – subscribing there helps us the most!

I am also open to any constructive criticism or feedback – help me make the show better! I am relatively new to podcasting and feel like I’m improving quickly, but any help speeding that up is welcome.

But wait, there’s more!

Shortcuts is a highly visual tool, and while I love writing and now producing podcasts, sometimes a little video goes a long way in helping you understand how this darn thing works.

So I’m producing YouTube videos to help you learn how to use Shortcuts! My channel will be me explaining what shortcuts are (and what they aren’t), giving examples of shortcuts you can use and how to use them, and I’ll teach you how to build your own shortcuts and think about the process.

In the same spirit above, I am new to video and hopefully I can get through the inevitable awkward bits sooner rather than later, but I have the content down – I worked at the app, I wrote the documentation, I’ve built thousands of workflows/shortcuts, and I am making the time to show you how to use it.

So subscribe to my channel, listen to my podcast, and ask me any questions on Twitter.

I’ll help as best as I can, and I hope you jump in the deep end with me to take advantage of all that Shortcuts has to offer – this is going to be fun.

Shortcuts & Siri: I’m excited to see more

The best announcement at WWDC this June was Shortcuts, which will let you seamlessly interact with your apps with Siri, your iOS devices, and Apple accessories.

These quick actions will make using Apple devices much faster for everyone, plus the upcoming Shortcuts app will mark iOS opening up to true automation and sets the platform down a path full of potential.

I originally joined Workflow, the app and team that was acquired by Apple and is now becoming Shortcuts, because I believed in the power of getting things done on mobile devices and what it means to have the capability to do so in your own hands. I saw firsthand the benefits of having your own creations to use with you everywhere,and the accessibility for everyone to build those programs with the touch-based interaction.

I left and started working independently because I wanted to share my own experiences directly with people. I want to take time to help everyone understand how to take advantage of these types of tools in their own lives, work directly with app developers and companies to build integrate these properly, and share my own vision of what the world could look like with these technologies properly utilized.

Now that the public beta is available, people are starting to see what the basic custom voice and suggested shortcuts can do – I’ll be sharing my thoughts even more here and a few other places.

Coverage so far

Over on iMore, I wrote a piece shortly after WWDC called Siri Shortcuts: Everything You Need To Know that introduced people to the new features. I shared about how you’ll first experience shortcuts, how to set up custom voice commands to launch Siri actions now, and what the Shortcuts app will be in relation to Workflow.

I didn’t cover too much about the specific details of interacting with Siri intents-based shortcuts, so there’s more to come there.

Rene Ritchie also had me on his podcast VECTOR to talk about Shortcuts for my debut appearance on a podcast. In it, we talked about the potential of Siri, how Shortcuts will work, and I teased some thoughts that I’m going to write up in more detail this summer. I’m super thankful for Rene to have me on his show and give me a chance to share1.

I really enjoyed speaking to someone else about all my ideas – keep an eye out for more from me in this space.

Coming soon

I have so much more to say about Shortcuts that there’s so many places to start (is there anything you’d like to know?).

I suggest everyone on the betas try out the parts of Shortcuts that are available now in Siri Settings, and read up more with Federico’s coverage from MacStories because he nailed all the details available so far.

If you’re really curious, I suggest watching the Shortcuts developer sessions available on Apple’s website and in the WWDC app – Introduction to Siri Shortcuts, Building for Voice with Siri Shortcuts, and Siri Shortcuts on the Siri Watch will get you very far and reveal most of what’s possible for apps to do with the technology right now, and coming this fall.

Workflow is on the App Store

Now’s the time to dive into Workflow and get a sense of what’s coming with Shortcuts. I suggest you download the app, explore the Gallery, follow the community on Reddit, and check out more of MacStories’ archives to learn as much as possible about Workflow’s past.

I wrote the original Workflow documentation while I was on the team to try and clearly show people what’s possible with the app – I suggest reading through the archive available online. Apple has just recently updated the documentation URL to redirect to help.apple.com/workflow, so you can check out their new set of documentation there as well.

Getting ahead on Shortcuts is guaranteed to be worth it now, and if the potential expands more in the future you’ll be even further ahead.

If you’d like to keep up with my Shortcuts coverage, follow my posts here on MatthewCassinelli.com or via RSS, subscribe to my email newsletter, and follow me on Twitter.


  1. Sorry again I messed up my audio!