SAN FRANCISCO: Apple on Wednesday (Jul 15) launched its own news podcasts, a first for the iPhone maker which is wading into an already crowded field.
Apple News will now feature daily audio news briefings along with “audio stories” – pieces from partners such as Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Time, Wired and the Wall Street Journal, as read by professional voice actors.
Apple says it has 125 million monthly active users of its Apple News product, but it does not disclose revenues or the number of subscribers to the paid version, Apple News+, which costs US$9.99 a month for US users.
The iPhone maker maintains a staff of editors that curate the stories in both the paid and free versions of its app.
The audio effort intensifies competition with Amazon.com and Alphabet’s Google, both of whom offer audio news options on their smart home speakers, as well as Spotify Technology, which has been expanding its podcast business with news content.
Apple is also launching a weekday morning audio news programme called Apple News Today, which will be hosted by New York-based journalists Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino and highlight stories from the publishers that work with Apple.
The show will be available to both free and paying users, and both it and the audio stories will also be adapted for Apple’s CarPlay, the system that connects iPhones to many newer vehicles.
Apple also said it would offer expanded access to local news in its app, starting with five metro areas in the United States: San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area, Houston, Los Angeles and New York.
Apple will maintain editors in each area to curate local stories, and paying News+ subscribers will get access to premium content from the local newspapers that take part in the program.
Last month, the New York Times left Apple News, saying publishers should be fairly compensated for their content and that the program is not align with its strategy of building direct relationships with paying readers.