How to use the Siri news podcast feature

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siri
Siri can now play news podcasts for you, just like olden-day radio.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Thanks to an iOS upgrade, a simple question — “Hey, Siri, what’s the news today?” — will now play you an NPR podcast. It’s just like turning on the radio in the morning to catch up on events, only you don’t have to use sucky radio. Here’s how to use Siri News.

Siri news sources

Siri appears to use Apple’s Podcasts app to find local news shows. If you’re in the United States, you automatically get NPR, but Siri offers you the option to switch to Fox News, CNN or The Washington Post. In the U.K., options include BBC, Sky News and LBC.

The new feature is exclusive to hands-free “Hey Siri” invocations. If you summon Siri with the Home button on your your iPhone or iPad, you’ll get a list of headlines from the Apple News app instead. Only if you actually wake Siri up with the “Hey Siri” phrase will you be offered audio news.

Not available everywhere

Or perhaps you will not be offered it at all. The feature has come to the iPhone from the still-unreleased HomePod speaker, and has until recently only been available on devices running the latest iOS 11.2.5 beta. But now, it works on any device running iOS 11.2 or later (the current release version is iOS 11.2.2).

However, when I tested this on my own iPhone, the news podcasts feature didn’t work. Even though I have both the News and the Podcasts apps on my device, all I got was this message:

Thanks a lot Siri.
Thanks a lot, Siri.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Still, it seems like the feature is either rolling out to everyone, or in extended beta testing. Either way, give it a go, and see if you like this modern take on a time-tested way of catching up on world events.

It does not seem all that useful on an iPhone. But on a HomePod speaker in the kitchen — coming soon, according to the latest rumors! — it would probably be killer. (If you have one of Google or Amazon’s spy speakers in your home, you can already do something similar.)