After introducing HomePod at its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple is now enhancing Siri in iOS 11.2.5 beta with the ability to instantly stream a news podcast when asked about the news. It is quite similar to features currently offered by Amazon and Alexa and Google Assistant. The feature will work on iOS 11.2.5 beta excluding the earlier versions of iOS and the latest public version, iOS 11.2.1.
When prompted with a hardware button, Apple News headlines or Safari sourced results are shown if Apple News is uninstalled or unavailable. Currently, there’s no real user interface for configuring news podcast playback from the prompt with Siri aside from voice control, and it’s limited to four news sources. Siri can still be used to play specific podcasts like The Daily from The New York Times when specifying which podcast to play.
This feature was designed for HomePod, but iOS 11.2.5 beta users can use it on their iPhones and iPads. It might turn out into a more polished version of Alexa’s customizable feature with the ability to add custom sources for tech news and other categories. 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. As this is the beta version of the iOS, more abilities and features may be added in the future, ahead of the HomePod launch.