Apple AAPL News services introduced a bunch of features that include audio stories of some of the top stories on Apple News+, audio news briefings hosted by Apple News editors, and curated local news collections for its 125 million monthly active users in the United States, the UK, Australia and Canada.
Additionally, Apple News+, the company’s paid offering is running a new promotion for users who have tried the service and canceled their subscriptions. The new deal offers previous customers another free month of Apple News+ as the new audio stories are set to be launched with the upcoming release of iOS 13.6 update.
Currently available on iPhone, iPod touch, and CarPlay, to access the new audio features, users must update to iOS 13.6. To access the new local news features, users must update to iOS 13.6, iPadOS 13.6and macOS 10.15.6.
Apple News+ is available in the United States for $9.99 a month, Canada for $12.99 a month, the UK for £9.99 a month and in Australia for $14.99 a month. Audio stories are available to Apple News+ subscribers in the United States.
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Details of New Features and Offerings
About 20 audio stories will be produced every week on Apple News, narrated by professional voice actors covering a range of topics. These will include the audio versions of some of the top feature pieces and long-form articles published by the likes of Esquire, Essence, Fast Company, GQ, New York magazine, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired alongside stories from newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Additionally, Apple News will now include more local and regional news including stories from The Charlotte Observer, Miami Herald and The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina). The curated local news feature is being rolled out in five cities and regions to start with and Apple intends to expand this to more areas soon.
These apart, Apple News editors and co-hosts Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino will guide listeners through some of the most important stories in the news and how the world’s best journalists are covering them with the addition of Apple News Today, the daily audio news briefing.
Both Audio stories and Apple News Today can be found in the newly added Audio tab, located at the bottom of the News app. Users can manage their queue and also get personalized recommendations.
Moreover, Apple has introduced support for the News app in CarPlay. So, users can listen to audio stories and Apple News Today while driving.
Apple News Intensifies Competition in the Audio News Space
The expanded audio offerings are expected to intensify competition for the likes of Amazon AMZN and Alphabet GOOGL owned Google, both of which offer audio news options on their smart home speakers, as well as podcast news providers such as Spotify Technology SPOT, which has been expanding its podcast business with news content.
Notably, just last month, The New York Times left Apple News — the free version of Apple’s news platform — a little over a year after it refused to join the paid Apple News+ service alongside the Washington Post. The NY Times is prioritizing adding new subscribers and said the Apple partnership did not give it enough of a direct relationship with subscribers to justify continuing relationship.
Nonetheless, Apple’s new curated local news experience is currently available in the Bay Area, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco and the platform has also added more local and regional newspapers to its catalog like 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 will be available to subscribers later this summer.
Meanwhile, Apple has been rumored to bundle its services together before, with a Bloomberg report claiming that the company was negotiating deals with publishers and music producers to bring a suite of content into a single monthly cost.
We believe that this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company’s bundled services offering in an affordable package could boost subscriber growth and the appeal of its upcoming iPhone 12.
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