This week, Apple released iOS 11.2.5. Although a minor update for the iPhone and iPad, it actually has some arguably major elements to it. For example, it fixes a bug in which a hacker could make your iPhone crash and restart just by sending you a text message with a link — even if you don't look at the message. Yikes. But today, I want to focus on a feature in iOS 11.2.5 that I really like. You can now ask your iPhone to read you the news, and it will immediately start playing a short audio broadcast from a news source. So if you are getting ready for work, or in the car driving home, and you want to spend a few minutes catching up on the top news, now you can quickly and easily do so.
To start, just say "Hey Siri, read me the news" or "play the news" or "give me the news" or something like that. Siri will start playing the latest episode of the NPR News Now podcast, which is updated every hour (so it is always fresh news) and only lasts 3-5 minutes (so you quickly get the highlights). I tried it out a few different times yesterday. It worked great, and the news updates were interesting and timely.
You can also say "Hey Siri, switch to the Washington Post" to instead listen to the Daily 202 podcast from the Washington Post. It looks like that podcast is updated every weekday morning, so it may be a little stale to listen to as you are driving home but would be very timely with your morning coffee.
Or you can ask Siri to switch to CNN, which gives you five things to know and, like the Daily 202, is updated in the morning. Or you can ask Siri to switch to Fox News, which gives you the latest edition of the Fox News Radio Newscast, which like the NPR News Now podcast is updated every hour and lasts five minutes or less. In other countries, you get news from other local sources such as the BBC.
There are also some specialty news topics. If you ask for sports news, Siri will by default play the latest episode of the ESPN Sports Update podcast, but you can instead switch to NBC sports news. Similarly, you can ask for music news (Apple Music Best of the Week podcast).
The feature also works with Siri in CarPlay. So as I was in my car leaving a deposition yesterday, I was able to press the Siri button on my steering wheel, ask for the news, and then I heard the highlights of what had gone on in the world while I was in a conference room all day.
This feature will also work with Apple's HomePod speaker, which will be available starting February 9, and which you can pre-order starting tomorrow.
I presume that the news sources will increase over time. But even with just the current news sources (especially the excellent NPR podcast), I'm enjoying this new feature.