Apple touts its News offering as the top app for news anywhere its available. And yet, I never find myself firing up Apple News, turning instead to other trusted sources, including even (gasp) Google News. But an iOS 16 addition to the News app could be the thing that gets me to change my habits.
The addition is called My Sports, and it promises to bring customized news about the teams, leagues and sports that matter most to you. Right now, I'm getting that info from a variety of other apps, including ESPN's cluttered mobile offering. If iOS 16 News can pull off a cleaner, more informative presentation of sports news, though, I just might have a reason to launch Apple's news offering on a more regular basis.
We won't know for sure whether My Sports is a hit or a swing and a miss until the iOS 16 public beta arrives next month. But based on Apple's iOS 16 features preview as well as what people who've downloaded the iOS 16 developer beta are saying, we have some idea of what's coming to the News app in the upcoming iPhone software update.
Here's a look at what's changing in iOS 16's News app with the addition of My Sports
iOS 16 News: What My Sports delivers
The current Apple News app already has sports content in it. When you're customizing the topics you're interested in, you can pick specific sports, teams and related terms, and News will include stories related to those selections in its main Today tab. Sports stories might be grouped together under a specific header, but you've usually got to scroll through many different headlines and curated articles to get there.
My Sports promises a more contained experience, more like the sports section of your local newspaper — or at least assuming your local newspaper still exists. You'll still get articles of interest, but My Sports also includes scores, schedules and video highlights of recent games. The feature will be available in the US, Canada, UK and Australia initially.
The previous sports-related topics you've selected in News will inform what shows up in the My Sports section. But you'll also be able to add more specific teams and sports to the mix as well. Supported leagues will include the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, NWSL, collegiate football and basketball, the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. From there, you can select specific teams such as the Los Angles Chargers from the NFL, the Portland Thorns from the NWSL, Chelsea from English football and (assuming you're a masochist) the Oakland Athletics from Major League Baseball.
All those selected teams will get their own section within My Sports in iOS 16 News, at least when their sport is in season. With baseball in full swing right now for example, the Oakland Athletics section would the latest stories about the team from a variety of sources, video highlights of recent games, scores of the most recent game or a live score if the game is ongoing and schedules of upcoming games.
The scoreboard and schedule feature is particularly interesting, and not just because it's a new addition to the News app, which has focused solely on articles up until this point. Screenshots for the My Sports section include "Watch on Apple TV" links next to live games, so presumably, you'll be able to tap that and jump to the TV app to view your favorite teams in action. (You'll need to be a subscriber to whatever channel or app is streaming that game, but it's nice to see the News app pointing you toward live coverage of something you're interested in.)
The links between News and the TV app don't stop there in iOS 16. When you launch the TV app, you'll find games of the teams you've highlighted in the News app highlighted in the Up Next and What to Watch sections of the Watch Now tab.
As with the current version of News, the iOS 16 edition of the app will include both free articles and ones tied to Apple's News Plus subscription service. You'll need to be a News Plus subscriber to read the latter stories, so Apple is clearly banking that people's interest in their favorite teams might prompt a few extra $9.99/month subscriptions to Apple News Plus if it means more coverage of your favorite teams.
Other sports-related additions to iOS 16
My Sports marks the biggest change for sports fans in iOS 16, but there are some other features coming to the iPhone this fall via the software update that deliver up-to-the-minute sports news.
As part of the iOS 16 lock screen overhaul — Apple's now allowing you to place widgets on your lock screen for easy access to info — there's a new Live Widget that's ideal for sports score updates. Right now, when you get notifications about sporting events, it's a constant stream of distracting alerts. The Live Widget changes that with a persistent widget at the bottom of your iPhone screen with an updating scoreboard, giving you an at-a-glance update without having to unlock your phone.
Live Widgets for sports will require app makers to take advantage of the developer tools Apple released at this month's Worldwide Developer Conference. But there's enough time between now and the full release of iOS 16 in the fall for those widgets to materialize later this year.
Both the Live Widgets and My Sports additions in iOS 16 tie into Apple's newfound interest in featuring sports as part of its ecosystem. That's included weekly live streams of Major League Baseball games through Apple TV Plus as well as the company's recent agreement with Major League Soccer to stream MLS matches starting in 2023.
Sports fans have an insatiable appetite for anything related to their favorite teams. Clearly, Apple has recognized that and is adjusting both its subscription services and device software plans accordingly. We'll see soon enough if a newfound focus on sports pays off for News in iOS 16.