A few weeks back, Apple added “Give me the news” to Siri’s repertoire of tricks in the latest beta version of iOS. The feature comes as the company is readying its smart assistant for the imminent arrival of the HomePod, the company’s first smart assistant-driven device.
The feature is now out of beta here in the States and the U.K. Asking Siri for the news will default to NPR in the U.S. and the BBC in the U.K. If you’re so inclined, you can also switch to Fox News, CNN, and The Washington Post or Sky News and LBC, respectively — because where you get your information is a particularly hot button top in the age of the Fake News Awards.
The functionality depends on how you invoke it. Talking to Siri directly though the phone will bring up print articles. Triggering it through a non-visual interface like AirPods, on the other hand, will bring of a podcast news briefing — similar to the sort of flash briefings currently available on Google Home and Amazon Echo.
Those news briefings are really cornerstones of their respective smart speaker experience. Having tested them both at some length, the ability to get a quick news update first thing in the morning is arguable one of the strongest selling points for introducing them into your daily routine.
Like Google Assistant, Apple’s clearly aiming to make Siri the most well-rounded assistant for a given task. Given the fact that the first version of the HomePod is lacking a touchscreen interface, this kind of feature certainly makes sense.
But while the feature is beating HomePod to market (the exact ETA of the smart speaker is still TBD), it’s potentially useful in other scenarios, like the car, where a quick audio news briefing hits the spot. HomePod will arrive to a crowded market when it finally does drop, following a CES that was utterly dominated by assistant-powered devices.