Apple News, News+ get new audio features and expands local news availability

We’ve heard about Apple News audio stories for a bit of time now, with expectations that the new feature would see the light of day with the public launch of iOS 13.6. And now those feature are officially official.

Apple on Wednesday officially announced a whole slate of new audio-focused features for Apple News and Apple News+. A quick roundup of what’s new: audio stories for “some of the best” feature stories available in Apple News+, curated local news collections, and a daily audio news briefing. Apple says that customers who want to take advantage of these new features will need to download and install iOS 13.6 — which means that should be launching today as well.

But, let’s get to the announcements:

Audio Stories in Apple News+

Per the announcement:

Beginning today, Apple News will produce about 20 audio stories a week across a wide range of interests. Narrated by professional voice actors, these are audio versions of some of the best feature reporting and long-form pieces published by Esquire, Essence, Fast Company, GQ, New York magazine, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired, and more, and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. Audio stories are now available to Apple News+ subscribers in the US.

The daily briefing

Apple News is getting an audio news briefing, which will be refreshed on a daily basis. Co-hosts Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino, along with Apple News editors, will round up the day’s most noteworthy stories. The daily briefing will even include “how the world’s best journalists are covering them”, in connection with those news stories.

The daily briefing, and the new audio stories, can both be found in the new “Audio” tab in the Apple News app.

CarPlay support

Apple News is finally supported in Apple CarPlay:

Apple also introduced support for the News app in CarPlay, so users can listen to audio stories and Apple News Today while driving. Users will be able to sync listening progress across devices: Start listening to an audio story with CarPlay from your iPhone and pick up listening to or reading it later at home.

A larger focus on local news

What’s more, Apple News is getting a lot more focused with local news. That begins with curated local news coverage. However, it’s a bit limited as far as regions are concerned:

Apple News introduced a new curated local news experience currently available in the Bay Area, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, featuring a variety of content from a diverse collection of local publishers, including a major newspaper in each city and region. Local news collections in Apple News include coverage of topics most important to local communities, such as sports, dining and restaurants, weather, news and politics, and more, with curation by local Apple News editors as well as personalization for each user.

Apple News+’s local news coverage is expanding, though:

Apple News recently added even more top local and regional newspapers to the Apple News+ catalog: A subscription to Apple News+ in the US now includes access to The Charlotte Observer, the Idaho Statesman, The Kansas City Star, the Miami Herald, The News & Observer, and The State (Columbia, South Carolina). In Canada, leading French-language newspaper Le Devoir is now available to Apple News+ subscribers, and The Globe and Mail, one of the country’s most prestigious national newspapers, will be available to subscribers later this summer.

All of these features are available alongside the public launch of iOS 13.6.