Apple readies Siri for the HomePod by adding a podcast-powered news brief

The HomePod had a bit of a notable production setback, back in December, but Apple’s high-end smart speaker is still on track for an “early 2018” release. As it preps for the release of its first Siri-focused device, the company is making some tweaks to its voice assistant. As 9to5Mac first noted, the latest beta version of iOS (11.2.5) sports a new news feature.

“Hey Siri, give me the news” will pop up one of a select few podcasts. It’s similar to features currently offered by Amazon and Alexa and Google Assistant. By default (and likely much to the chagrin of certain high-ranking politicians), the system offers up The Washington Post’s audio news read. 

But before you go crying “fake news,” keep in mind, you also can switch to Fox News, NPR or CNN, so maybe you’ll find something in there that adheres more closely to your world view. More selections will no doubt follow soon. 

Interestingly, the feature is designed specifically for usage when you don’t have a display in front of you, like CarPlay and the aforementioned HomePod. This is clearly an attempt to fulfill Siri’s stated goal of using the best potential interface method for any scenario. In other words, it’s probably just as easy to read a story or hit play on a podcast when you’ve got a screen handy. Without a visual cue, Siri has to guess at what sort of news you’re looking for.

Given the prevalence of smart assistant-driven hardware, it seems safe to assume that more media outlets will be tailoring content to this voice-only input method. Publications are clearly hungry for any potential new news platform.

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