In the modern world, news travel at the speed of light and every second there’s some fresh content to consume. Back in the day, newspapers came out once a day or once a week. With the development of telegraph, radio, television and later the Internet, things have changed as you can see. The TV and the Internet provide 24/7 access to the most relevant content.
News constitutes a significant share of web traffic, especially through such services as Google News. With the rise of smartphones, a significant share of news consumption moved to mobile applications. The largest media players in the world such as BBC, New York Times, CNN and others introduced their own branded applications.
Along with branded applications, there appeared smart content aggregators such as Flipboard and Google News which quickly became the most popular news aggregators with millions of downloads. These examples show that there are significant demand and opportunities in this niche. Building a news app may prove a very smart startup idea.
So with this being said, we’ll first proceed by briefly reviewing the most popular news apps.
The Most Popular News Apps Review
So here are some of the most popular news apps in the world at the moment:
- New York Times
- Google News
Let’s briefly analyze each of them in detail below.
One of the largest media giants in the world, British Broadcasting Corporation, has its own mobile application for both Android and iOS devices. The most important features the app offers are news alerts, feed personalization, videos, stories, live broadcast.
New York Times
One of the largest American newspapers, the New York Times, also has its own news app for iOS, Android and Kindle. The app is free to download but requires purchasing a subscription package to get full access. The key features are saving articles across devices, section list customization, search and filtering.
Unlike the two previous examples, Flipboard is a content aggregator. The app’s goal is bringing the best curated stories to the users. The main features include source bundling and feed customization, daily editions, saving stories and creating personal collections.
Google News is one of the most popular news services in the world. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Google introduced an official app for its news aggregator. The main feature is briefing updates – five stories a day selected according to your interests. The other features worth mentioning are full coverage (analysis of how different sources report a story), source selection, subscriptions to favorite magazines.
This app lets you organize and sync content from your favorite sources. Add the needed blogs, magazines, newspapers, etc. to your list and enjoy fresh content from these sources in your feed.
Having reviewed some of the most popular news apps, let’s talk about the two main types of apps in this niche.
Two Major Types of News Apps
As you have probably understood from our introduction, the two most popular types of news apps are news aggregators such as Flipboard and single-publication branded apps such as the NY Times. If you’re building an app for a specific publication then, of course, the latter option is the right one for you.
Otherwise, you may consider both options – you may start your own publication or build an aggregator. The former option is more complicated as starting a publication implies the need to create original content whereas in the case with an aggregator you simply organize and syndicate existing content.
Finally, there is always room for creativity. You can invent some new type of news app, combine both types or create something totally different, not like anything seen before. Regardless of which option you choose, one thing is clear – most likely, you’ll want to monetize your app and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about next.
How to Monetize a News App
Unless you can invent some new monetization method, you have two ways to monetize a news app:
- Subscriptions and in-app purchases
Let’s see how to correctly implement both of these methods.
The most popular way to monetize any app, not just a news one is advertising. However, unlike many other types of apps, news ones tend to have higher indicators that describe the average time a user spends on an app and other user attention-related indicators. This implies that one can expect higher ad revenue from a decent news app than from other types of apps.
As for the technical details of adding advertising to your app, you can either sign agreements with advertisers directly or use an ad platform that connects advertisers and app makers. The former option is better for established and popular apps while the latter is better for small projects which are just starting out.
Subscriptions and In-App Purchases
The two other most popular monetization models are subscriptions and in-app purchases. You can make your app accessible only with a subscription or offer premium packages that provide users with exclusive content. In any case, you’d better make sure that your content is really valuable to be able to have users pay for consuming your content.
Now that we have broken down the most popular news app monetization models, let’s finally get to the most important part which is…
How to Make a News App: Must-Have Features
A great news app requires a variety of features. When you look at the most successful news apps they all offer unique and valuable features in a big number. So, to start with, you want to at least ensure that your application can boast the most basic features which all the most popular apps have.
Furthermore, to create a competitive advantage you should think about some innovative features which will make your app different from competitors’. In any case, here are the must-have features which you should include by all means:
- Newsfeed API
- Text underline & save underlined text
- Save news and quotes
- Machine learning based on user preferences
- Social integration
- Registration & login
- Personal profiles
- Email alerts
- Push notifications and news alerts
- Search & filtering
- Commenting & likes
The most important element of any news application is the feed API. After all, you need to get all those news from somewhere, right? If we’re dealing with a single-publication application that uses original content then you’ll have to develop your own API.
Otherwise, you can choose among a wide range of different news APIs and can integrate multiple ones into your app. Here are the most popular APIs at the moment:
- News API (Google News)
- Event Registry
- Web Search API
If you’d like to see a bigger list of news APIs, you may want to check out this list by Programmable Web. Which API is best for you depends on your specific requirements. If you need general news then any of the above options should work.
However, what if you’re building a financial news app? In such a case, you may need to use a niche-specific API like Bloomberg News or Dow Jones. If you’re building a sports news one, then ESPN API, for instance, would be a possible option.
You will want to sort news by different categories and tags. Therefore, you will have to create a list of specific categories and create a possibility to add and use tags. It is necessary to create algorithms for sorting news by categories and ensure they work correctly so that you don’t have stories presented in the wrong categories.
Text Underline and Save & Share Underlined Text
Ever read an article on Medium? If yes, did you notice how it allows you to select any piece of text and share it? This feature may be worth implementing in your app. You can allow users to select a piece of text, save it and share it on social networks. This, in turn, may significantly increase the number of social shares your application gets. Taking this into account, this feature does not seem such a bad idea, after all.
Save News and Quotes
You definitely want to let users save articles and quotes in your app. You also want to give them access to their saved stories even when they’re offline.
Machine Learning Based on User Preferences
Implementing machine learning for analyzing and understanding users’ preferences is a brilliant idea. If implemented correctly, this will provide users with the most relevant content selected according to their preferences and interests.
One of the key sources of traffic for news websites is social media. For this reason, you want to make it easy for people to share your app’s stories on their social media profiles. You can go even further and use data from users’ social profiles to turn your news into another Facebook. Users can see what news their friends are reading and sharing in your app, they can comment, and so forth. Opportunities for social integrations are endless, so everything is up to you.
Registration and Login
Letting users register and log in is also necessary if you wish to add profiles and commenting functions which we will discuss below. First, you want to make the sign-up and log-in processes as quick and simple as possible. Don’t ask for too much information, don’t include too many required fields. Also, by all means, add social login via Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.
Why not let people create profiles in your app? This is a great idea especially if you want to add likes and comments in your application. This will make the application more social and create more personalization for users.
Another good idea is to let users subscribe for regular email alerts with the latest news. For instance, they can get a daily digest with the most important news of the day. Clicking on the links in the email will take them to the app.
Push Notifications and News Alerts
The best way to keep users constantly engaged and have them keep coming back to your application is to use push notifications and in your case, news articles. Ask users for permission to send them news alerts and let them choose which specific alerts they wish to enable.
Commenting and Likes
News apps and websites are hard to imagine without comments. First, you need to implement a smart commenting system which will prevent spam and offensive comments. It’s a good idea to let people log in via their social profiles to comment. Secondly, you may want to replicate Facebook’s like system and let people pick different emojis to express their opinions.
Search and Filtering
Finally, you want to let users search for stories and filter the search results according to specific criteria. Many of the existing news APIs have in-built search and filtering functions.
Having understood what key features a great news app should have, the final question comes to mind: “So how do I actually get started?” That’s exactly what we will answer next.
Four Steps to Build a Successful News App
The first four steps you need to take to build a popular news app are the following:
- Decide on the type of app. First, decide if you’re going to build a single-publication app or an aggregator. Alternatively, you can invent your own type of news app.
- Choose a good example. It’s always a good idea to choose an example of an already successful news app to look upon. Emulate it, learn from it and build something better.
- Create a technical specification with requirements. Before beginning the development process you need to have a detailed technical specification with a list of requirements. A specification is a detailed technical document that provides readers with the necessary information for understanding how to correctly turn an app idea into reality. In many cases, product owners are not capable of drafting a specification on their own. Fortunately, almost any software development company you approach should help you design the specification correctly.
- Find the right app development company. Finally, you must find the right app development company such as CyberCraft to help you bring your idea into reality. We recommend you consider offshore software development companies, specifically Ukrainian ones. In such a case, you can expect to get the same quality of development while enjoying significant cost savings without any risk. By the way, if you’d like to find out more about why Ukraine is the best place for app development outsourcing, check our other article, Why Ukraine is So Popular for IT Outsourcing Among European Clients.
Once you’ve chosen the right app development company, proceed to sign the agreement and then the development process can begin.
The news industry is constantly developing and growing with the help of new technologies. As such, it presents massive opportunities, especially in the field of app development. The largest news agencies in the world have their own branded apps. At the same time, there exist many popular news aggregators which present users with the most interesting and relevant stories from the most trusted sources.
Whichever kind of news app you decide to build, ensure that you have included the most essential features along with some unique ones which will provide you with a competitive advantage over the competing apps. Once you have decided on the type of app you want to build, choose a good example of a popular news app to emulate. Create a technical specification with requirements or have your chosen app development company do it for you.
When reviewing potential app development partners ensure that the chosen app developer offers the best price/quality ratio and has a proven track record. Our app development company, CyberCraft, perfectly fits this criteria. We have multiple years of successful experience in developing mobile apps for our clients some of which include prominent global corporations and famous Silicon Valley startups. Fill out the form below and receive a free consultation with a detailed estimate for your app idea!