Apple Added Audio Stories and a Daily Audio Briefing in Apple News and Introduced Expanded Local Coverage

The Apple News app which ships preinstalled on Apple devices is getting significant updates. The company is adding new audio features including audio stories, and a daily audio briefing known as Apple News Today in the application, alongside expanded local coverage.

The Apple News Today feature is somewhat of a competitor to Alexa’s Flash Briefing. Flash Briefing has become a popular way to catch up on the top headlines, however, in Apple’s case, people host the briefing instead of a virtual assistant. Duarte Geraldino and Shumita Basu, Apple News editors, and co-hosts will guide users through the day’s news headlines. The briefing will run for nearly 7-8 minutes, and all Apple News readers in the United States will be able to access the feature.

Every Monday through Friday, a new briefing will arrive, and users can play them in Apple News in the US, in Apple Podcasts, or users can also launch them using Siri voice commands across Apple devices.

Audio stories will only be made available to Apple News+ subscribers in the US, and starting today, the app will produce nearly twenty new audio stories every week across a range of topics. The stories are narrated by voice actors, and will not be original content. These stories will be professionally narrated version of feature reporting as well as other long-form pieces of news published by NY Magazine, TIME, Vogue, Wired, Esquire, Essence, and other, and newspapers such as the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Four years ago, Apple partnered with SpokenLayer to bring audio narration to Apple News, however, that was focused to enhance the Apple Podcasts experience. Apple has not partnered with SpokenLayer to bring the new audio features. The company stated that it is working with voice talent itself and recording audio stories in the company’s studios. The company did not reveal the number of workers hired to work on audio programming, however, confirmed that it expanded headcount particularly for audio.

Apple News navigation experience has also been redesigned to make room for the new audio features, and you will now see a new Audio tab at the bottom of your screen. CarPlay will also support Apple News, and listening progress will sync between devices as users more from iPhone to car.

Apple News is also introducing expanded local coverage. Apple News will feature a curated local news experience in select markets. The news experience will be headed by a local editor, and these sections will include a wide range of stories across various areas. Today, Apple News+ expanded its selection of local as well as regional newspapers. Apple News has now over 125 million monthly active users in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia.

The new features will be released as part of the iOS13.6, macOS 10.15.6, and iPadOS13.6 updates arriving today.



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